Nov 02

Reading Reflection 11: The Tin Roofs of Cange

By Thursday at 1:30….

Describe Liberation Theology and Farmer’s understanding of it as a guide for his work. How does this relate to your own interests or career plans?


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  1. Jessica Yen

    The formal definition of the Liberation Theology is an attempt to interpret the Christian Scripture through the plight of the poor. In the eyes of the people living in poverty, they believed that the economic distribution of wealth was unfair and that they did not want to accept their plight. Their mentality was that although the wealthy class was making them suffer, God or a higher being is watching over them and keeping score. The poor believed that God gives everyone equal resources but that it’s the doing of the wealthy that makes the distribution of goods unjust.

    The theology of Liberation also states that people need to address the horrors of poverty with community service and remediation. This idea fits Farmer perfectly and he decides to devote his life in helping the poor. After witnessing a poor market woman get run over by a large truck owned by the rich, his life was immediately impacted because he saw how sad life for the poor was and how nobody seemed to take notice of her death. Another event that changes his views on life was when he met a woman who was crying because her sister and her niece died from malaria because there they could not afford blood transfusion. Farmer empathized with the woman and asked donations for blood-banking equipment from his relatives. He then received a thousand dollars and donated it to a local hospital. This incident would soon foreshadow Farmer’s great contributions to the country and his growing heroic frame. Farmer would soon become an American doctor who loved the Haitians and would charge them free of service.

    The Liberation Theology relates to my own interests because I also agree with how people, like myself, who are in relatively fortunate circumstances, need to help people in need. We often misjudge those living in poverty as those who did not work hard enough or that they deserved their situation. I believe that students like myself are the future and that we need to start working for the good of humanity. Throughout my life I have underestimated how lucky I am to be provided a shelf to live under, food every meal and a high education. Ever since I realized my lucky circumstances, I have tried in every way to give back to the community. For instance, I have donated clothes, worked at food banks, participated in beach cleanups, mentored children in high-risk neighborhoods, and has worked in street clean ups. In the future, I hope to make greater contributions to society through bigger volunteer projects and maybe even start my own non-profit organization.

    1. admin

      You make some great points about snap judgments and misjudgments people make.

  2. Alexis Utanes

    Accorind to Farmer, Liberation Theory declared that the Catholic church had a duty to provide preferential option to the poor, in terms of service. It addresses the fact that many populations in tremendous poverty are suffering silently in their communities. Since they are out of sight from more fortunate areas, they are also out of mind. Liberation Theory counters this notion by stating that it is the responsibility of able-bodied people to help out those who cannot help themselves, through service and remediation. Haitian peasants have a distilled view of Liberation Theory that everyone is against them, but since God loves the poor, they find favor in him.

    Farmer is guided by the practice of Liberation Theory. “to provide preferential option for the poor–seemed like a worthy life’s goal for him” (81). There are numerous examples of Farmer practicing the Liberation Theory characteristic of not leaving one person behind. For instance, in the previous chapters, Farmer walked 5-hours to check up on a TB-patient who did not come to his appointment. “And if it takes four-hour treks or giving patients milkor nail clippers or raisins, radios, watches, then do it” (42) Furthermore, his committment to serving the poor is something that is always on his mind. He has trouble sleeping because he knows that there are always somewhere suffering and in need of his services. Also, his travels depend on where his patients are located. Therefore, Liberation Theory guides not only Farmer’s work, but his entire life.

    Liberation Theory definitely fits with my current interests. Within the past year, I have been doing as much community service as I can. Though I have volunteered in a few different populations, I feel like poverty is an area I would like to explore more. Service learning at Share Our Selves has exposed me to a great example of Liberation Theory at work. Not only do they have a free health and dental clinic, but they also operate a Social Services wing which distributes free food, clothing, and financial assistance to the poor in Orange County. They are trying their best to accomodate every need possible. I hope to find a career in a non-profit agency which benefits the less fortunate. Like how the book addresses, you may not be able to solve the problem of poverty on your own, but you can make a big difference in the life of one person.

    1. admin

      Alexis, I really appreciate you drawing out connections to particular chapters and examples. I think this will help people see Farmer’s view on LT, even if it is not totally in synch with the views of other scholars.

  3. Leslie Mendoza

    From what I interpreted, liberation theology has to do with the way people living in oppressed environment interpret “religion” in general ; and this will differ based in their culture (as I didn’t quite get the meaning in the text, I decided to google different sites for a broader range of definitions and that’s what I came up with).

    In the case of the Haitian peasants(going back to the text), they need their faith in order to keep living, since despair of having hungry children, poor medical practices, high medical costs, and lack of good water. Christianity for them was seen as “the shared conviction that the rest of the world was wrong for screwing them over, and that someone…just and perhaps omniscient, was keeping score.” It’s how they rationalized that there was unfairness in the world- as demonstrated in their saying,”Bondye konn bay, men li pa koun separe” (“God gives us humans everything we need to flourish, but he’s not the one who’s supposed to divvy up the loot”)

    Though Farmer didn’t really seem to classify himself with a religion, he empathized with the Haitian belief more than his native land’s belief of religion being “disdained” (as a Western man, where science explains things). Though I don’t think that it was this idea that guided him directly (because for me it felt that it was his own personal drive that motivated him to reform the hospital’s inefficiency and corruption), he sympathized with the idea of Liberation Theology in the form that he believed that as a person in the upper hand who held the materials needed for them to flourish, he would help the more unfortunate side. Even if it strikes as being inconvenient for another person- because he has the chance (e.g. in contrast to the American doctor who returned home eagerly and dismissed the Haitian need of his services despite that he held good intentions because it was inconvenient without Western technology such as electricity).

    If we have the chance to do something that will cause change towards the good, even if it feels inconvenient for us, I think we should strive to do it- even if its little things. I think, it’ll be really wonderful if my future career could help in changing current injustices as Farmer is doing now, even if it’s just by person by person. The two law speakers who came in Tuesday, I somewhat envy them because they have been lucky to do just that from the skills from fate they have obtained. It’s a wonderful goal, but one that I don’t know how to go about it. The best thing I can do right now is continue to explore my options and figure out what is the best way I can help out. I can do little things, but sometimes it feels that is not enough. Its a reminder that I need to sharpen my skills and continue to level “up” in standard like Farmer has been doing.

    1. admin

      leslie, it would really help to show those other sites that you have found. it seems you have dug up quite a mix of different interpretations (some which may even be in conflict with Farmer’s definitions), which is an interesting point of discussion.

  4. Alejandro Barraza

    Liberation Theology focuses on the terrors of poverty and how we could solve or alleviate these terrors today. Liberation Theology emphasizes restoration of impoverished areas through action and engagement within these areas. The people that should be committing this engagement are the individuals with the time, money, and knowledge pertaining to helping these impoverished countries. Overall, Liberation Theology focuses on helping people in poverty through action.

    Before introducing Liberation Theology to the reader, Kidder begins with two Haitian quotes, “God gives but doesn’t share” and “God gives us humans everything we need to flourish, be he’s not the one who’s supposed to divvy up the loot” (79). These are two quotes illustrate the feelings of the Haitians, and why Farmer interpreted Liberation Theology as a declaration of helping the Haitians because they feel unequal. Farmer not only interpreted the theology as a declaration telling him to helping those who feel unequal, he saw the theology as a declaration of action in Haiti. This emphasis on action guided Farmer’s work and life, and this is illustrated by the extraordinary amounts of time he spends in Haiti. When Farmer enters medical school he spends half a semester at the actual school, and the other half in Haiti. Farmer’s classmates eventually give him the nickname of “Farmer Foreigner.” Also, the idea that the Haitians feel unequal under god has led him to a life of attempts to alleviate the Haitians. For instance, when a sick pregnant woman entered a hospital and didn’t have the money to pay for treatment, Farmer started collecting money so they could treat her. And after this woman died he decided he was going to start his own hospital that would be free.

    Both the Liberation Theology and Farmer’s understanding of it do relate to my own interests or career plans. I believe all of us want a job that helps somebody, and we want to receive some sort of satisfaction from this job. Personally, I have always reminded myself I want a job that helps people in poverty that don’t understand the law and as a result may be taken advantage of. As stated on Tuesday, we live in an unequal criminal justice system. If you are poor you get a public defender that is taking up too many cases so he can’t focus on your case, and this leads to a plea bargain, acceptance of guilt, within the court. People can’t sleep under bridges, can’t sleep in car, and if your house looks untended you get a ticket. These statutes are focused on people in poverty. I want to work in a job where I can help people in poverty understand law and use it to their advantage. I want to help change the law even though I believe it is impossible. Similar to Farmer, I know who he needs the most help under the law and I want to help them in any way possible.

  5. Kellie St. Pierre

    I think the Poverty group’s presentation was very impacting. To visually lay out the percentage of people in poverty really puts you back into reality and reminds you how many people are suffering around you. I know I take for granted my financial status and am constantly telling myself how fortunate and blessed I am. Even those of us that are on student loans and financial aid-there is such a stronger degree of people struggling that I am embarrassed to whine. It makes me very uncomfortable to know that there are a large amount of people that do not have access to clean water or shelter, and there is so much the rest of us can do to help.
    There are actually two homeless people living outside of my apartment right now, and have been there for the past three years. My initial thought upon seeing them was “why in irvine?” A silly question, it makes me realize that poverty is truly all over; in places you don’t expect. Just like the YouTube clip the Poverty Group played at the end of their presentation, normal high school students, our peers are being evicted from their homes due to four months unpaid rent. These are situations that we sometimes see with glazed eyes, and especially when counting my blessings, it is essential that we all do our part in community and help those in need.

    1. admin

      This is an interesting and thoughtful post, but can you connect it to the reading?

  6. Anthony La

    From what i gather Liberation theology is a movement of religion that interprets Christianity as means of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. This faith if you will enables those in poverty to continue to fight even though everyone has turned their backs on them. That there exists a God who is watching that bestows them solace and faith to help them get through the days, It gives them hope.

    This theology promotes the notion that people who are able should help those in poverty through service and remediation. This is where Paul Farmer comes in as he is their angel of service. He believed that as a more fortunate being he had a duty to help those less fortunate. And remembering what Bill Tanner and the other panelists touched upon, we know poverty will always be here and nobody alone can change it, but everyone can do their share and do what they can. Paul Farmer is doing everything he possibly can and is definitely giving those he serves hope.

    You know how nowadays every car has a licensed plate, i mean its almost a cars’ birth certificate. Some people pay an extra fee and write what their heart desires with those 7 spaces on that metal frame. Some are funny and some are plain out dumb. But a while back one stood out to me..it said “HOPEGVR”. (The ‘O’ was however replaced with a heart). You see countless license plates everyday..but that particular one stood out to me and i’ll never forget it. It would justly serve as Paul Farmers license plate if he had ever wanted it. And i one day hope it will justly serve me as well.

  7. Amy Sage

    From my understanding, Liberation Theology is a movement in Christianity that explains or acknowledges the unjust treatment of the poor. God puts humans on Earth with everything they needed to flourish, but it is humans who have distributed it unequally. Those with the wealth will be judged for their greed.

    Farmer’s life goal is based on LIberation Theology’s central imperative is “to provide a preferential option for the poor.” If he was going to practice medicine it made sense to practice in a poor region like Haiti, and if he were to practice medicine in Haiti, it makes sense to practice in Cange because it suffers most dramatically from poverty.

    Farmer’s work relates to my own interest’s or career plans because I choose to work one day on my reservation. It has it’s challenges like poverty, low grade education, and access to good healthcare as well, and like Haiti, many do not prefer to stay and work where I am from. I do not believe it is as bad where I am from, but when compared to the greater United States, it differs drastically.

    To work in such places, it is very challenging for an outsider, especially one from a different culture. I think Farmer’s background in Anthropology helps him as a physician. He’s a physician that is culturally aware, and this is KEY when working in places like Haiti, or my reservation. All people have when the systems are failing them is their faith. They cling to it with great rigor, and if you don’t have respect for it, you offend them and make it harder to help them. You may have the best intentions possible, but you must still maintain respect for people, and this should not be influenced by socioeconomic status, education, or whatever else puts them at a disadvantage. People need to have respect for people because we’re all human beings, and the only real difference between us is the distribution of the loot.

  8. Natasha Zubair

    Liberation Theology is a Catholic movement that recognizes and wishes o help the lower economic class. Latin American bishops declared it the church’s duty to provide better options for the poor. Farmer believed that there was a continuous struggle between the rich and the poor, between good and evil and because he was already interested in medical ethnography, he wanted to learn about the most disease-ridden countries. He knew he wanted to “lend a voice to the voiceless”; he knew he wanted to be a doctor the poor people and very much supported the liberation theology because it was a powerful push to get rid of poverty. After the scenario of the pregnant woman that needed a transfusion when there was no blood to give her, Farmer decided to raise money so that he could donate blood-banking equipment to the hospital. To him, the central aspect of the liberation theology seemed like worthy life goal: to provide for the poor and fight the horrors of poverty through service and action. I, myself am interested in becoming a teacher for an underprivileged school where kids are faced with unfortunate circumstances that are beyond their control. I hope to inspire them to look towards the future and hope for a better life through hard work and dedication to reaching their goals.

  9. Andre Navarro

    According to the reading Liberation Theology, was a doctrine created by Latin American theologist in the late 1960’s. Latin America’s catholic bishops had endorsed some of these tenets. Archbishop Oscar Romero was murdered for perching this doctrine. One bishop talked about oppression of the poor calling it “institutionalized sin.” They declared that the church had a duty to provide “a preferential option for the poor.” Farmer didn’t think this was any think like the Catholicism he had remembered. . The reading goes on to say that after reading and studying about all the social injustices that were happening in Latin America, Farmer “said he was more curious about the world than outraged. Truths about events in places like El Salvador are hidden from most Americans. This is how he got interested in the migrant labor camps not far from Duke.” We also see the practice of Farmer’s Liberation Theory from his love for the Haitians whom are in great poverty.

    I think this way of thinking has enormous benefits’. I have thought about what I want to do with my life for a long time, and the only thing that I feel will give me a sense of purpose is helping someone in need. The thought of working the rest of my life for a company which is already wealthy and making them wealthier is a sad thought in my mind. I really think if we all worked to alleviate the issues & problems surrounding poverty; poverty would be only read about in history books.

  10. Cindy Arias

    Liberation Theology was an approach by Christianity to enlighten scripture by focusing on the poor and the social conditions caused by institutional pressure. Farmer uses this ideal in shaping his interests in medical anthro, social conditions, and helping out those who are most needy. As he came from a different background of theology, liberation theology resonates most in his belief that the poverty he sees in Haiti is not right and is an institutionalized sin. As my parents are from El Salvador, I grew up always knowing about the murder of Archbishop Romero and the reasons why he was killed. Yet as I entered high school and college, it never failed that I had to explain to my peers the histoyry behind it since many have not even heard of the war that occured over thrirty years ago. I have always felt angry at the fact that oppression fof the poor has never been highlighted in the media until the poor riots or causes disruption, or until the oppression is so bad that the US HAS to intervene, especially since my own parents were directly affected by it. Since faith is such a huge part of society it is rereshing to see that new theological ideas are emerging that embrace the inequality and aim toward fixing it with an emphasis on faith.

  11. Stephen Mendez

    Liberterian theologists believe in counter-economics, dispute resolution organization, economic freedom, egalitarianism, and free market ideals. They beleive in a free society that allows for free trade (laissez-faire) with people having free will and freedom of contract. Non-aggression and non-interventionism are ideals of liberation theologists. They believe in methodological individualism and self-governance and self-ownership. This is not in line with my career path because doctors have to follow strict guidelines and ,aws set forth. There is no room for libertarian theology in my chosen field of interest.

    1. Stephen Mendez

      However, upon further deliberation, in the field of medicine there is a lot of room for liberterian ideals when concerned with trips to impoverished communities to provide medical services at lowered costs for people who can’t afford it normally. These impoverished members of society can’t afford such services due to capitalistic trends and economic theories currently set in place which have created a large population of poor and a concentrated group of wealthy individuals. Many medical doctors either after or during their acquisition of a medical license travel to poor areas and give their services at a fraction of the cost. This is where libertarian theology is concerned the most. These services are being provided at a cost which is dependent on the public, and the red tape of government is less concerned. Government is heavily involved in the medical field, especially now more so with the passing of Obama’s new health care reform. It is interesting what the effect of this bill will have on the practice of medicine in the coming years, and I will hopefully be able to see first hand what new regulations and standards in medicine are placed in response to this momentous reform.

    2. admin

      The categories of actions you bring up here are interesting and could help with class discussion a lot… you don’t really define them or give examples, though, which would add to the post.

  12. Brenson M Yu

    Liberation theology to Paul Farmer from what I understand is those who are well off, [those] people have the power and ability in their hands to help the poor. LIberation theology branches from a Latin American theologist doctrine that focuses on “helping the common man.” To help the common man, is to consider his/her plight, and with a fortunate background, a kind being can make a difference in the poor persons lives by helping the poor be recognized for their conditions, and eventually be helped. What I think interested Paul Farmer to take on liberation theology was his interest in learning more about the poor. Perhaps it was his thoughts if he could try himself and provide an alternative that pushed him to go on a global health mission to Haiti.

    In my own plans, liberation theology to me sounds more like, “Do the right thing.” In my discourse of studies I plan to branch out and help people, but I don’t really plan to go to third world countries and make a career like Paul Farmer. I relatively plan on focusing on local, home-health problems in the sense of work in clinics, and health sectors that deliver service to the poor in the US.

    1. David Moghissi

      Great post, Brenson.
      Since you expressed interest in our county’s health sector, I wonder what – if anything – you think needs to be changed or improved in that area? With all the talk of healthcare reform we’ve been hearing on the news lately, It would be interesting to see your perspective.

  13. George Goodman

    Libertarian Theology is a Christian movement which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ as liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. The Haitians would tell Dr. Farmer that, “Everybody else hates us, but God loves the poor more (81).” Faith is what keeps people in poverty going because if not the hardships and suffering would be too much to handle. The theology emphasizes the horrors of poverty and fixing them now by service and remediation. This has become a guide for Dr. Farmer’s work, because even though he expands his medical knowledge by being a doctor in Haiti, he really does it because he feels that it’s his life’s proper work. He held strong to his beliefs as he built a hospital in Haiti and didn’t charge patients for its use.

    If I have my own accounting practice one day, I will make some time outside of busy season to provide free tax clinics to the poor and lower middle class in our country, who can’t afford the expense of having their own accountant. I will most likely start my career at a corporation, so one of the first things I am going to do when I am hired, is find out how to get involved in community projects that help the less fortunate. If I have time, I would really like to work at a food bank since I have enjoyed my time so far at the Share Our Selves food line.

  14. Natalie Chau

    Liberation Theology is an interpretation of Christianity through the poor’s suffering. It is about the unjust social, economic, and political conditions of the poor and how we can help the poor because we live in a world where the rich has everything but rarely does anything to help. The poor Haitians only had religion to keep on living. When asked “how could a just God permit great misery?” The Haitians answered with a proverb, “God gives but doesn’t share” (79). The way Paul Farmer interpreted this was that “God gives us humans everything we need to flourish, but he’s not the one’s who’s suppose to divvy up the loot. That charge was laid upon us” (79). Basically, we have all the necessary things to survive, however, they were not distributed equally among the rich and poor. The poor got the worst end of the stick and it is our responsibility to help them out and help them where they are lacking.
    Paul Farmer sees Liberation Theology as a guide for his work because during his stay at Haiti, he begins to feel the need to stay there and help the poor Haitians because they are more in need of help than the more fortunate people in America. He once talked to an American doctor who was so ready to go back to the U.S. and Farmer just didn’t feel the same way. When he decided to stay in Haiti to help after going to Harvard medical school, he realized that Haiti was in serious need for medical/health equipment but there was no easy way to get them. So, one day he returns to Haiti with a microscope that he stole from Harvard and he justifies his actions because he saw it as redistributive justice and Harvard already everything they needed in excess. Farmer was just “helping them not go to hell.”
    This relates to my own interests and career plans because I also think that helping those in poverty is what I want to do. I’ve always wanted to help those in less fortunate countries and I really want to do what Paul Farmer is doing. I would like to become a doctor and travel/live in a different country and help the people any way that I can.

  15. David Moghissi

    It is fair to say that Farmer sees the world through the prism of Liberation Theology; this philosophy affects almost everything he does and forms the foundation of his service to the poor. Essentially, Liberation Theology applies the messages of Jesus Christ to the plight of marginalized people around the world in an effort to uplift them from their current conditions. It attributes the suffering of impoverished people to human actions, not God. More often than not – and like we read in this section of Mountains Beyond Mountains – Liberation Theology is most prominent in areas with high social/economic inequities. Few places on the planet fit that description better than Haiti and that helps to contextualize Farmer’s mission. Farmer understands all too well that the poor in Haiti have no influence against the wealthy. Images of dying Haitians that could have been saved through medical procedures considered basic in America, for example, drive Farmer to constantly give all he has to those who are suffering. His purpose in Haiti isn’t solely to provide medical help to the sick or assist in basic anti-poverty projects. At some abstract level, one motivation guiding Farmer’s work is the desire to see ordinary Haitians uplift themselves out of oppression. This aim fully echoes Liberation Theology.

    My own interests relate to Farmer’s understanding of Liberation Theology in that, I believe that it is incumbent on all of us to help those less fortunate in some way. Either directly or indirectly, we all should be ready to assist those in need. We can look at the presenters we saw last lecture as an example. They all acknowledged their duty to help those in need and, through means most appropriate for them, they have been working in accordance with that duty. In this day in age, assistance may take the form of working with Haitians like in Farmer’s project or it may involve monetary support for people/organization seeking to promote the greater good.

  16. Justyne Catacutan

    Liberation Theology does relate to the Christina beliefs. In the sense, Farmer does point out the need for help directing towards the poor. His life has taken this interest. For those that have the time or willingness, it is morally a good thing to help people. I feel that helping out in the community is very important in my life because I know it makes a difference for other individuals and myself. I know that in the future, if I do have the time I will utilize it by volunteering or even just helping out someone that seeks help. Any factor does make a difference. Honestly, having a career that is related to social service is not what I am looking for. It is not that I have no concern for the less fortunate, I just have residing interests when I look for a career. It also does not mean that I won’t volunteer or help out in the community. I would prefer to do it on my own time and boundaries. Like the speakers said on Tuesday, there are so many opportunities out there.

    1. admin

      You make a great point about your career and helping. Not everyone is going to get a career in the public sector. So, the question then, is how do you plan to stay engaged and support your community even when the demands of your career and family are upon you? What advice might you give others in the same situation?

  17. Brenda Ramirez

    es this relate to your own interests or career plans?
    From what I gather in the book, Liberation Theology is a way of thinking that “institutionalized sin” (oppression, social injustice, poverty) is created by government/ruling bodies and maintained through the church.
    As for Farmer’s understanding, Paul Farmer’s curiosity is consistently provoked as he searches for answers to why things are occurring as they are. After his study of Virchow, he concentrated on learning about Latin America and became very concerned with Haiti. With Virchow’s ideas, Liberation Theology, and Julianna DeWolf’s example, Farmer learned how to use medicine not only to make a living, but to also make a difference through social and political emphasis. These ideas allow him to take a multi-disciplinary approach and his work also feeds his curiosity.
    This relates to my career plans because like Virchow’s Ideas and Liberation Theology, I believe that truths are sometimes hidden or unveiled for certain political or economic reasons. I would like to become a veterinarian and also be an animal activist. In order to work towards progress, I believe I have to take action by giving hands-on care, but also make political, environmental, and social problems related to animals my other priority.

  18. Rachel Berman

    In the reading I was interested in the perspective of Ophelia on Farmer. It is interesting and makes sense why it would be difficult for someone as devoted to giving care to be in a relationship. This discussion about an impossible relationship brings out the inequality in Farmer’s care for his patients. Being in a relationship with Ophelia would mean some kind of selfishness, some taking, in opposition to his constant giving. Farmer is incapable of receiving and cannot be in an equal relationship where giving and receiving occur simultaneously. This makes me curious if many extremely passionate service givers have a difficult time in relationships where the other person does not need their aid. I would imagine if their life’s purpose was centered on caregiving they may not have a sense of their own needs and cannot relate to others because they lack this sense of self. I would say that in my field of study the balance of giving and receiving information is vital and it cannot be one or the other. When we are consumed with what we can do for others we can lose sight of who we are and in turn lose what we have to offer. Working toward a balance shows that you are capable of cultivating yourself as a tool for helping others.

    1. admin

      great segue into next week’s reflection :)

  19. Ai-Thuan Nguyen

    The Liberation Theology’s main purpose is to alleviate the sufferings of the underprivileged by means of providing services by those of able-bodied. Similar to the poor healthcare system in Haiti, the United States might some day end up in this position. Farmer lets this belief guide him throughout his life. He basically handed his entire life on a platter to the Haiti community. After seeing the woman need a blood-transfusion, he tried to raise money in order to help her in any way possible. He also walked a long distance just to check on his patients because his patient did not show up to their appointment. This shows the amount of dedication he puts into his line of work. Instead of giving up after seeing the huge amount of work needed to get the Haiti population proper healthcare, he decided to take action and help as many as he could. As the one of the panels said, get over the fact that its not fixable and do what you can.
    This belief also speaks to me. I want to help out those who are in need of help as well. My goal is similar to Dr.Farmer’s goal, but I lack all the professional training that he has. The only thing for me to do now is to take action and engage myself. Hopefully I will be able to make a difference int he community one day just like what Dr.Farmer is doing in the Haitian population.

  20. Diana Garcia

    Liberation theology is a movement that interprets the teachings Jesus Christ in terms of freedom from unjust economic, political and social conditions. The movement began as a moral reaction to poverty caused by social injustices by the Roman Catholic Church. The Church believes that if God has blessed you with wealth then it is your responsibility to spread the wealth and help the poor.

    Paul Farmer understands this idea and devotes his life to helping those who are in great need. He travels to Haiti to treat and cure people free of charge because he knows that they live in poverty and cannot afford any medications. Farmer not only helps those who come to him but he also takes time out of his busy schedule to go out and look for patients who miss their appointments because it is vital that they get treated. Liberation theology is a way of life for Dr. Farmer but he sees it as doing his job because he loves what he does and wants to make an impact.

    As far as my future plans go, I do not think that I am necessarily following liberation theology I view it as my duty as a citizen to help this world become a better place. I have volunteered and been part of many after school and mentor programs that try to inspire children to go onto higher education and prepare them for their future. I do this because it hits close to home for me. Being from LAUSD I am aware that people do not have high expectation for students but I want them to defy the odds and succeed. I aspire to change the education inequity that we have in the United States.

  21. Patricia Chiu

    In the 1960s, Latin American theologians had developed Liberation Theology. As a result, many Latin American bishops at the time began to preach of this too. According to Wikipedia, liberation theology is the movement that views poverty and other associated issues, such as political unrest, as unjust and strives to use Christ’s teachings to assuage the poverty. The theology’s main goal was to help out the poor. The late archbishop Oscar Romero was among the first to preach of liberation theology; he was assassinated in 1980 for doing so. Farmer’s interpretation of liberation theology is that it is the belief that there is someone of a higher power called God that keeps track of the wrong committed in the world. It is like a religion in that it gives the Haitians something to believe in. As a result of this “religion,” the Haitians are more hopeful about the possibility of improvements in their current situation than the “blan” that visit. Rather, the blan view the squalor that the Haitians live in and predetermine their future and their lack of potential to succeed in building a better Haiti. As Farmer views it, the blan give Haiti the kiss of death. Though, the blan, mainly from America and Europe, provide Haitians with medicine, they do so without the belief that their patients’ health or living conditions will improve.

    Angered by their nonchalance in helping the “poorest people in the Western Hemisphere,” Farmer tries even harder to bring about change to the status quo in Haiti. Though he is not willing to get hurt in the process of bringing help to Haitians, he tests his boundaries and tries to see how much he can get away with before the Haitian army will harm him. As a result his devotion to the Haitians, he is even willing to forgo convincing Ophelia to marry him after she declines his marriage offer. Farmer, in a way, is married to the Haitian people; he will not waver in his dedication to the Haitians.

    In a way, I am similar to Farmer in that, I too, have a dream- a dream in which I can see myself as a health professional. Liberation theology is Farmer’s driving force for why he does what he does. As for me, my driving force is that I want to help others, not just necessarily the poor. I, too, have a wish to bring about change, just as Farmer does. Though, I am less geared toward helping only a certain group of demographics like the poor; rather, I would like to help everyone in need of help. However, the career I wish to go into, calls for being paid a salary; as a result, I will be helping those who can afford to pay. Since I do enjoy volunteer work too, I can also provide service to the community free of charge.

  22. Omeid Heidari

    Liberation Theology is the belief that uses the teaching of Chistianity to understand and explain the suffering of the the poor class. It is basically Christianity of through the eyes of the poor, and how their situation is them being displaced by those richer than them. It is almost a Marxist thought to say that acquiring too much wealth at the expense of putting others into the position of living in poverty.

    Farmer is the best case of living by example. His belief that the rich are those who potentially can help those in need but rather displace other by putting them further in poverty by acquiring more wealth. Farmer has the potential to be the top medical professional working for one of the best medical school in the United States, possibly the world. He uses his talent and his wealth, however, to work non stop at the clinic. He fuel to help those at the clinic drives him to forget all the comforts he can earn with his talents, and continually devote his time and money into helping the Hatian people.

    I aspire to have the same values as Farmer in my life. While I find myself giving into the comforts associated with my socio-economic situation, I always want to think of how I can help those around me, how to give my to my community, how to help those less fortunate than me. After college I want to dedicate my life to service and see how others live their lives. This will be the best way continually think about to help others around you and work towards liberating those in the worst socio-economic situations

  23. krystin uyema

    Liberation theology was first established as a reaction to poverty cause by social injustice in Latin America. It is from Christian theology based on unjust economic, political, or social conditions. From the reading, it seems to describe wealthy people who are able to help those in poverty and in need. Those who are more fortunate should want to help those who are less privileged than them because one small change can make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

    Paul Farmer was attracted to liberation theology because of his strong interest in helping those living in poverty in Haiti and because of his interest in curing infectious diseases. It killed him to see people suffering in those living conditions and to know he could decrease poverty. Because he had the ability to help the ill, he believed he should do all he can to help them out. I think what really struck him was seeing the poverty in Haiti and Cange, when he states, “an individual might exist in misery this great almost anywhere, but it was hard to imagine an entire community poorer and sicker than this” (77). After the scene with the young woman who was not able to get a blood transfusion, he raised money to buy the hospital its own blood-banking equipment. That’s when he decided the main goal of liberation theology—to provide for the needy, was going to be his life goal.
    Ever since I tutored students in a low income community in high school, my increase for helping those in poverty increased. It was at that point that I realized how fortunate I am to have the things I have, while some lack those basic necessities. I recently saw a show on MTV called “World of Jenks” where a young man spends a week living in the shoes of someone he’d never thought he would. The episode I saw was him living with a homeless woman, dealing with her daily struggles of where she’s going to find food to where she’s going to sleep that night. After watching this show, it made me want to give back to the community even more. For example, I decided this Christmas I want to donate cans and toys to Toys for Tots. I think small donations like these could make a difference in someone else’s life.

  24. Hyun Joo Lee

    Farmer sets truly admirable examples by self-sacrificing himself in his pursuit of serving sick people—particularly with the focus of poor people in Haiti. Such actions are guided by his belief in the Liberation Theology. Through this belief, he comes to feel that we owe poor people our commitment in fighting for the injustice they are suffering from. Farmer seems to be a strong believer in this system because he feels that these individuals under unfortunate, poor circumstances are stuck in a system that does not benefit them because of the determined structural aspect of our society, rather than their own personal sins committed. Thus, he says we need to “provide a preferential option for the poor,” and that we need to better distribute our wealth/resources. He also takes action in his belief by taking microscopes from the Harvard Medical School and saying, “Redistributive justice. We were just helping them not go to hell” (90). One thing I noticed was how his commitment to his goal guided by Liberation Theology affected his more intimate, personal relationships with people. Farmer seems to hold such strong obligations for others as a priority in his life that I think made people around him a bit lonely. In chapter 7, a letter composed to Farmer by a woman named Ophelia is revealed. In this letter, she writes why she is not able to marry him. And it is not because she does not feel love or commitment for him. She writes, “the qualities I love in you—that drew me to you—also cause me to resent you—namely, your unswerving commitment to the poor, your limitless schedule and your massive compassion for others” (66). While I respect and greatly admire Farmers for his passion and commitment, and feel a strong commitment towards community service too, one thing that occurred to me was that I would actually not be able to do it the way he does because family, friends, and personal relationships in my life would matter a great deal to me. It is actually a concept that never occurred to me before in how community service could affect our personal relationships, and through reading about Farmer, I was able to learn how others view community service and carry out their acts towards community service. While I would not be able to make contributions in the way Farmer does, I know that any act of kindness goes a long way—and I try my best to live my life making as much positive impacts to others.

  25. Dillon Gamboa

    Farmer understands and utilizes Liberation Theology as the aspect of helping others that can’t always help themselves. It looks at the wealthy spectrum and compares it to the less fortunate, seeing how there is a wide gap in certain economic areas it should be the obligation of the more fortunate to help.

    For me, liberation theology should be an important aspect of everyone’s lives. Since we have more than we need and for the most part stable in the economy, I think it is our civil duty to do something for the less fortunate. It has always been an effort of mine to give back whenever I can and that is why I always continue to do community service. At times the volunteer work that you do doesn’t always look like you are doing something, but every little bit counts for something. In the long run you will make a difference in at least 1 person’s life. I plan on carrying this concept into my career choice because I do want to get into the medical field. That in itself is always helping people and making a difference in their lives.

  26. Nirav Bhardwaj

    Liberation theology is use of the Christian Scripture and teachings of Jesus Christ to uplift the poor from social, political and economic disadvantages. It is a belief by the poor that it is not God’s fault for their suffering and that in fact God is watching and “keeping track” of the poor and rich disparities. Furthermore, it is a movement to help those who are poor and in need.

    Specifically in Paul Farmer’s case, this affected him while he was doing work in Haiti. Haiti is one of the (if not the single) most impoverished nation in the world. And Paul Farmer was able to see that through his own eyes. He was able to understand that the poor in Haiti have no chance against the rich and powerful in the country and because of that he felt compelled if not almost obliged to continue work in Haiti.

    Personally, I may never enter into a career that is specifically targeted towards serving those who are in poverty. While that is the case, this still plays an important role in my life personally and morally. I feel that coming from a fortunate background, I have the ability to help out those who are in need. I have the ability and the resources to bring individuals, whether it be one or many, out of poverty. And because of that, while making a great career for myself in the banking industry, I will do everything I can to make sure I give back and help out those who are in poverty. My philosophy is something like this: we at UCI complain about problems with grades or the car we drive and what not. Well we should be happy that these are our problems. That we struggle for A’s and B’s while other people in the world struggle for food and clean water.

    Just remember, that whatever profession you enter into, there is always room for serving and helping the community, the impoverished and those in need.

  27. Symone Magsombol

    Liberation Theology is defined as a Christian theology that encompasses liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions, in mostly which deals with helping the less fortunate and the poor. It also has strong ties with roots from Roman Church as well, deriving mostly from Latin America in the 1950s-1960s. Thus, Farmer’s understanding of liberation theology relates directly to this philosophy to help the poor in Haiti. He shares deep compassion for others to help them heal from sickness, and other health problems. He devotes his own time and willingly assist those in need.
    I can relate this to my own interest in many ways. I’m not sure exactly what profession I would like to do in the future, except all I know is that I want to do something in healthcare. I have a lot of experience working around the health care field, such as volunteer work in hospitals, internships, and more. Every time I help someone, I always have this sense of fulfillment after; I truly found it to become a passion of mine to try and get involved within the community where I can make a difference in others health and well-being.

  28. Dulshani BalasuriyaArachchi

    Liberation theology is a religious movement that started in South America in 1950s, where liberation from unjust economic, political and social conditions was explained through poor’s suffering, their struggle and hope. Paul Farmer called it a “powerful rebuke to hiding away poverty” (p.78). The people he talked to in Haiti believed that god gives everything humans need but it’s up to the humans to share it. I think Farmer understood this and that’s why he devoted his time to help the poor and be a person who ‘shares the wealth’ or give to the poor in whatever way he can. Personally, I too believe that sometimes economy, politics and social conditions can become barriers to helping and understanding the poor. I chose medicine or to become a doctor as my career plan because I felt like that’s one of the best ways to help people who can afforded it. I don’t think I necessarily follow the Liberation Theory in my life. I volunteer my time to help the community because I feel like it’s my responsibility.

  29. Jennifer Lazaro

    The Libertarian theory, in my view supports equality in distribution of goods and the responsibility of each person to take care of one another. They emphasize charity work, not following governmental bureaucracy in distribution of power. Yet they are not anarchy. This theory guides Farmer’s work view opening his eyes to issues in other countries. He describes his childhood being surrounded by family and poverty, and how his life style was different from that of his life with the fraternity in Duke. In the fraternity, Farmer was not comfortable with the system that they ran, therefore he dropped out. He also demonstrates this theory of mind when he tries to open a blood bank and finds out that it was not what he was expecting, and therefore leaves to open his own hospital. Farmer believes that no one should be underrepresented and that’s what the Libertarian theory implies, that we should look out for each other, and make sure that what we are receiving is just for those whose voices aren’t heard, mostly the poor. This relates to my interest because, like Farmer, I see the poor being overlooked within out society. I am aiming to be one of those few individuals who fights for their rights to resources and equality. Farmer is an inspiration for people that are trying to make a difference in a world where bureaucracy is hard to argue against.

  30. Elim Loi

    Liberation theology interprets Christian teachings through liberation from unfair conditions poor people are suffering through. Farmer ‘s understanding of this theology influences his actions to reach out to the poor and offer his help to them. He sees life through their eyes to understand their sufferings and struggles and bring them hope through what he does for them. This relates soo much to my own interests and career plans because i plan on serving underprivileged people, especially in other countries. A lot of the basis and motivation for the things i do comes from my beliefs, similar to Farmer. Because i have been to various places where the unfortunate conditions and lifestyles of people are very apparent, i know that i am very fortunate and should be grateful and help others that are not as fortunate as i am. i often feel it is very unfair that i am where i am or have what i have while most of the world does not come even close to having the privileges, materials or opportunities that i have and experience. I think from understanding and realizing how fortunate we are and how much we can do for others, we should really use or time and resources to serve others. These actions that we do to offer what we can to help are beneficial and encouraging to these people because it brings hope for their lives and futures.

  31. karina venegas

    From my understanding it is a christian idea of unfairness or suffering of the poor. I personally want to work back at work where the majority of people are of Hispanic descent and are either living in poverty or are middle class. I think these are the people that need more help, especially when it comes to health. I am a public health major so health is a great concern of mine and I believe that people shouldn’t have less access to information or treatment because of their economic situation. Everybody should have the same access to health whether they are extremely rich, middle class or poor.

  32. Jennifer Madamba

    I have understood Liberation Theory to be related to the way Jesus Christ has lived. Jesus has gotten out of his way to help those in need and those who are suffering. It’s all about sacrifice – sacrificing time and other aspects of your life to help others. In a way, Liberation Theory reminds me of community service. Community has definitely expanded – people don’t only donate money but also their time, their homes, their food, their material belongings to those who need it most.

    Mountains Beyond Mountains is basically a story of Liberation Theory. Farmer grew up humble. His family was not in the best economic situation. He grew up knowing that he had to work hard to get his rewards. After getting a degree, he used it to become a doctor. Through this, he was not only able to support himself but he was able to help others and give back. He traveled to Haiti to get a job at a hospital to help those who are in of medical need.

    This really pertains to my interests because I love doing community service. I really love the feeling of helping others and to help those less fortunate most especially. I think it is a responsibility and an interest- sort of like education. You’re not required to attain education , but I feel like it’s the duty of every human being. Because it’s a habit that needs to be passed on from generation to generation to make the world better.

  33. Christine Thrasher

    Liberation Theology is a Christian theological movement that interprets the message of Jesus as liberation from unjust conditions such as poverty, downtrodden social status, or repressed political status. In other words, subscribers of this philosophy believe that the most important goal of the Christian faith is to liberate the world from suffering and injustice. Paul Farmer adopts this philosophy in his work by dedicating his life to serving the poor and needy. Seeing the great disparities in wealth and resources around him, he believes that it is his moral duty to utilize all his assets and talents to help alleviate those difficulties.

    I am not Christian, so Liberation Theology does not specifically pertain to me, however, I do agree with the values of serving the less fortunate and dedicating ones life to the betterment of the community. I don’t think that any kind of religious faith is necessary to have these kinds of goals, but I find it encouraging that people of every belief can and have interpreted their religions in a way that promotes charity, compassion, and public service.

  34. Gaurav Nihalani

    Liberation Theology is basically the concept that God created everything for everybody to share equally, but still the minority wealthy class causes an unequal distribution of resources and the poor are losing out. This viewpoint is in favor of the majority of poor people in the world who are unable to attain many necessities the wealthy take for granted. The belief is that God is watching everything on earth and he will be the ultimate giver of justice in the end.

    I believe this concept is quite idealistic rather than realistic because people are justifying their plight as a ticket to God’s grace. It seems somebody with this mentality will never be able to rise out of the poverty they are in because they accept it as unchangeable without the intervention of God. I personally do not agree with this mentality because I feel everything here on earth was given to us for the taking. In the Bible itself it states that man is to have dominion over all other creatures and living things on earth. Therefore, I argue we should strive to attain our true happiness since its here for the taking rather than succumb to a plight with hopes of a divine scoreboard in our favor.

    1. admin

      go back and look at Farmer’s words and actions again. He (and many others) see Liberation Theology as VERY action oriented not the hopeless/helpless attitude you describe here.

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