The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence
by Gary Haugen.

I cannot even begin to express how this book has been an eye-opener for me. Haugen does an incredible job explaining the various effects that all forms of human trafficking have on developing countries; and, as the title portrays, why ending poverty must first begin by putting a stop to the brutal violence that takes place on a daily basis all over the globe.

The title of the book really caught my attention. THE LOCUST EFFECT. Kind of a strange title, I thought; but the analogy between locusts and violence that Haugen uses is very straightforward. Locusts are a type of grasshopper that live and thrive in swarms. They will eat anything and everything in sight and can do mass destruction in a short period of time. America had an invasion of locusts back in 1875. Crops all across the Midwest were completely demolished by a swarm of locusts. Because of these locusts, thousands of people were left destitute and thousands died from starvation.

“The locusts had come and destroyed it all. All the hard work, sacrifice, and effort of these impoverished families didn’t matter. All the government grants of free land didn’t matter. The assistance of neighbors and well-wishers from the other side of the country didn’t matter. Indeed, to those who saw the labor and loving of years gone within ten days through the onslaught of the devouring locusts, talk of assistance from outsiders seemed but a mocking.” (Haugen, 97)

Seemed but a mocking.” That phrase struck a nerve. Almost seven years ago, I spent two months in a tiny, destitute village in the country of Nepal building an orphanage. I was with a team of 17 people, and we worked tirelessly 10 hours a days to get this orphanage started. This orphanage now houses many kids from that village. I pray for those children on a daily basis and continue to support them. But what if the government just decided to seize the land the orphanage was on and force those children to leave? What if slave owners came and forcibly took those children to work for them? What if thieves came and stole everything the orphanage had and those children were once again left completely impoverished? Would all that hard work my team and I did “seem but a mocking“? This orphanage has definitely had its share of problems, but by God’s grace that orphanage still stands secure today. But this is definitely not the case for orphanages across the globe. Some thrive, but countless others suffer. Gary Haugen writes many heart-wrenching stories of how people’s lives were completely shattered by violence. He writes how violence abounds in the poorest of places — violence ranging from property grabbing to gender-based crimes.

“That aspect of poverty is violence – common, everyday, predatory violence. The way our world works, poor people- by virtue of their poverty – are not only vulnerable to hunger, disease, homelessness, illiteracy, and a lack of opportunity; they are also vulnerable to violence” (Haugen, 43).

He also states:

“If we want to understand the violent reality in which the poor actually live, we will have to look very hard because, of all the conditions that afflict the poor, violence is the hardest to see” (Haugen, 49).

What many people find so surprising is that there are more slaves in the world today than there has ever been known in history. Haugen writes, “About 11 million slaves were extracted from Africa during the four hundred years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade – which is as little as half of the number of people held in slavery in our world this year.” (Haugen, 69). But all of these forms of slavery are brought about by violence.

Later on in the book, Gary Haugen writes the reforms he is striving to bring about in the governments of other countries. He breaks apart foreign governments into three segments – the police, prosecutors, and the courts. He explains how all of these are so heavily corrupted in almost every nation across the globe. He illustrates how the poor are terrified of the criminal justice system in their country because of the corruption they know that goes on there. They do not understand the system, and any involvement they’ve had with the system is usually a very negative experience for them.

Gary Haugen makes a powerful argument for human rights. He states practical and doable ways to bring about reforms to the government of other countries. He is an incredible advocate for the poor who is not afraid to speak up FOR THE SPEECHLESS.

“If we do not decisively address the plague of everyday violence that swarms over the common poor in the developing world, the poor will not be able to thrive and achieve their dreams – ever” (Haugen, 98).

This book is definitely one to buy and add to your home library. It brings to light the darkness that creeps this earth, but it provides a shining solution — one which we can pray for and get involved in.

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