Martin Luther King once said everybody can be great because everybody can serve; all you need to serve is a heart full of grace, and a soul generated by love. It is by following this definition of greatness that King paved the way for millions of Americans and inspired an entire world.
As we sit today, celebrating the life of this great American leader, I can only imagine what courage it must have taken him to be so effective in an era of pure hatred for colored people like him in a land that they have helped build. The greatness of a man can not be measured by the amount of wealth he has, but by the lives he touches. King was a great man, for even after his death his messages continued to touch people’s heart.
Growing a plant is arduous, but its fruits are sweet. Everyone wants to taste the fruit even if they did not help cultivating it. The idea of waiting for others to do for us is faulty, and can only prolong our misery. It took 45 years for King’s dream to become reality, but as Barack Obama is getting ready to become the next President of the United States of America, I can’t stop imagining when Toussaint L’Ouverture’s words will become prophetic for the Haitian people.
The roots of the tree of freedom are deep and numerous proclaimed Toussaint L’Ouverture in 1803, and two century later the tree seems as dead as Toussaint himself. Haiti is not a free country. The suffocation by the international community on this small nation is making it even more impossible for the people to continue on the path that L’Ouverture paved for them.
Many Haitians living in America or elsewhere are rejoicing in the success of Barack Obama. Rightfully, we ought to enjoy this moment for we fully understand what it takes to succeed when the odds are against us. Not many people believed that Obama could win when he announced that he was running for president of the United States in that frigid day in February 2007 in Illinois. By turning a dream into a reality, Obama has inspired us all to believe in ourselves, and never let cynicism shake our desire and confidence. He is paving a new way for us, like L’Ouverture and King have done before him.
It is easier to worry about our individual standing in society than to be concerned over that society as a whole. It is much more common to hear others complain about injustice done to them than to be bothered about the abuses taking place in our community. While we are celebrating the new dawn of American politics, let us not forget that we have plenty of work to do at home. I can’t immerse myself fully in the glitter of Obama’s presidency, when we have millions of powerless children back home who are non-existent in their own country.
What is next for us as a nation? How do we get ourselves involved in the daily struggles of our brothers and sisters back home? As an individual living outside of his homeland, how does one empower himself. It is my understanding that Haiti will not perish, and I am willing to bet everything I have on it. But before anything else, we must revert back to the words of King, and allow ourselves to become servant of our community.
Haitian leaders want to be recognized, they want to be famous, but above all they want to be powerful. What none of them really want to be is true public servant. We can not build a nation, if our leaders do not want to serve the people. We can not become a cohesive people, if we do not value selfless service. We can’t expect a better future for our children, if we refuse to help our neighbor’s child. We can’t imagine things will change, if we want to operate in the status quo.
Let’s pave a new way for our children and grand-children. Let us get off the road of skepticism and illusion. Let us start building a new foundation for our nation. It is time for a national dialogue to let bygone be bygone. Together, rich and poor, mulattoes and dark skin, country people and urban people, can join forces and make Haiti the envy of its neighbors. Yes we can, if we value the sacrifices of our ancestors, and if we want a better country for our children. Yes, we must come together, as one nation, one people to rejoice our freedom and to let the tree of liberty grows as it shall.
The first black president of the United States of America is an agent of change, and we must take him as his words when he says that he wants to change the world’s perception of his country. We must think that this new perception will exclude the kidnapping of foreign leaders and the destabilization of other countries’ government.
We have paid the price for our freedom with blood and with money. We have been lingering in a state of despair because our ancestors fought for what they believed was right. The world had turned their back on us in 1804, and still today they continue to turn their back on us. They claimed to be too tired of helping us build a nation, when in fact they have never given us a chance to build our nation. The hypocrisy of the world towards us should be our motivation to stick together. Before we expect others to do for us, we must acknowledge our responsibility vis-à-vis each other. The only way we will move forward is by becoming less selfish, and live the words of King everyday of our lives. Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. Let us serve Haiti together.