An interesting question was posed recently in Haitian FREE Thinkers: would any of the members be atheist if the were raised in Haiti.
An interesting question was posed recently in Haitian FREE Thinkers: would members be atheist had the grown up in Haiti?
The simple answer for me was: "I don't know". I would like to think that I would still be a critical thinker becaue that is my natural inclination. I became an atheist because I came in contact with some out and open atheists and they explained what the term meant. At that time I was not as afraid of the social stigma as I was before. Ultimately I had to be honest with myself before I could be honest with anyone else.
View from my aunt's house in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
I consider myself to be fortunate. My basic needs are met. I have access to a great deal of information and I live in a relatively peace country. Can the same be said if I was living in Haiti right now. Some people are living great but the majority live a very hard life.
Access to people and information that challenge the status quo is very instrumental in my opinion. In Florida we have people from all ethnicities and backgrounds living all around us. The Haiti I remember is much more homogenous. On top of that we have a totalitarian culture. In my experience Haitian kids are not encourage to explore, challenge the popular paradigms, and generally just ask the question "why".
Asking the elders "why" something is done in a certain way is often see as rude and a sign of poor home training. With that background in mind it is no wonder that there aren't too many Haitians leading the way in certain fields. Those who have managed to move to other countries may be the exeption.
Having said all that I did manage to find one group of non-believers who are trying to get their organization off the ground. I got in contact with the leader as soon as I could to see if it was true. The founder, "Billy" is a very smart Haitian guy who is going through the normal toils of Haitian life. Speaking to him can be depressing as he tells me of his everyday ordeals. All things being equal, he has still managed to throw off the shackles of the ancestral religious traditions as well as the ones imposed on us by our colonizers.
I reckon that Billy is in a minority but it does answer the question on wheter or not it is possible to be an atheist while living a regular Haitian life. Billy faces many challenges-namely having enough resources to communicate to fellow Haitians the things that he knows or have thought about in a uniquely Haitian manner.
This is the reason why the group Haitian FREE Thinkers is in partnership with Billy in order to support him and his group to the best of our abilities.