In many professions, the recognition by one’s peers is the highest honor that can be bestowed on an individual. For example, many athletes take great pride when they are recognized for their achievement by the very people they are competing against. In the scientific world, it is of great importance to be published in a magazine that is reviewed by your peers. In Haitian politics, there seem to be a great disconnect in the worthiness of serving the public interest.
Being an elected official is the highest honor that any civilian can attain. It is the ultimate gratification to be elected by your fellow citizens to represent their interest. Unfortunately, many public servants in Haiti seem to think very little of this honor.
Public offices in Haiti are often occupied by people who were not chosen by the people. It is with that perspective in mind that we can come to understand why many public officials in Haiti have such a low respect for the offices they occupy.
In their heart, they are convinced that they are not the servant of the people. They are where they are not because of the Haitian people, but mainly because of their masters will. In a democracy, the people are the state, but since Haiti is not a democracy, the people are worthless.
The very foundation of the Haitian state never really took into account the will of its people. As much as we are all proud of our ancestors, it is a great injustice to forget the grave mistake they made right after liberating us from the French colonialists.
Some of our liberators, like Jean Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe proclaimed themselves king without consulting the people. They let their self interests blind their universal consciousness. They set the wrong precedence for all leaders thereafter. We can not find one Haitian public servant who has put the benefit of the people before his own. This is indeed the greatest tragedy of Haitian history.
From independence to present, holding public offices in Haiti has always been about flaunting one’s self-worthiness. In Haiti, we have made a reality out of the cliché that politics are for the dogs, instead of bringing out the true honor that exist in being a public servant.
This past weekend, Haiti once again was the focus of the region. A so-called election was held for members of the senate. The report coming from multiple media outlets is that turn out was dismally low, and that part of the country, especially the Plateau Central witnessed some violence and voters intimidation. There were over 100 candidates for 12 senatorial seats, and not one of those candidates represented Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular political party in the country. How can we talk of fair elections, if we are denying the people a choice?
To come back to my earlier comment, in Haiti, the people who occupy public offices are often not chosen by the Haitian people. We are among very few countries in the world, where the results of our elections are not determined by the populace. In fact, the word election should never be used in the same sentence as Haiti. They select our leaders for us, and hence they do not have to answer to the people they pretend to serve.
For Haiti to move away from misery and despair, we must find a way to implement the value of honor in public offices. We must elevate the standard by which we choose our leaders. We must take control of the process of governing ourselves, and hold responsible those who are in charge.
Government by the people, for the people is a must for progress to take place. The people must engage in the ideal of change. They must not surrender their power to control their destiny by feeling powerless. The will of a determined people is stronger than the force of the most powerful flood; we must take back our country.
The day of being sidelined in our game should come to an end. The game is being played on our home turf; therefore it should be played by our rules. We must invoke the pride within being a public servant. Anyone who believes they are superior to the very people they should represent does not belong in public offices.
We must learn to serve with honor, respect, and selflessness. A public servant is an honor placed on an individual to represent the will of the public. We shall never let our servant becomes our master. The people collectively are omnipotent, and must exercise their power whenever their will is not being respected.
We are at a junction in history, where no dream is impossible to turn into reality. We must be strong, ferocious, and undeterred in our pursuit of developing our country. The urgency of the moment is calling for strong leaders to rise up, and take a stand against those who are too weak to serve the public interest with great honors.
The past generations have failed to leave a model legacy for us to follow, but we should not fall in the trap of recycling that vicious habit. We owe it to those who made the ultimate sacrifice by broken the chain of bondage with their blood to establish a state, where public servants will be regarded as honorable individuals; then and only then can the public gain the self-confidence necessary to build a prosperous nation.