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Book Review of The Locust Effect by Gary A. Haugen

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The Locust Effect


The Locust Effect by Gary A. Haugen, Founder and President of International Justice Mission, tackles one of today's most difficult topics, Poverty and Violence. Often individuals do not connect the two atrocities, yet in society these two often work in tandem. As Founder and President of International Justice Mission, Gary has dedicated his life to eradicate human trafficking, all the while poverty and violence are substantial aspects of the cause.

Filled with detailed examples, The Locust Effect not only stimulates the mind with statistics and reasoning, but also pulls the heart into the midst of each individual's story. As I write this review I am sitting in Starbucks sipping my fair trade, living wage providing $3.50 latte, while 52% of the worlds population survive each day on less than $1.25. The impact of global poverty, even on us in the United States, is substantial and must be rectified. The result of such devastating poverty is violence. Haugen states, "Violence is as much a part of what it means to be poor as being hungry, sick, homeless, or jobless. (pg. 43)" This violence is not just physical in nature, as in war and fighting, but also sexual, emotional, and even spiritual (in the name of a god). Other aspects of violence focus on land seizures and abusive police, throughout these forms of violence the Locust Effect must begin.

The locust effect reflects the devastation of the 19th Century American Midwest where locusts invaded and devoured the crops, wool, and even supplies of the farmers creating an immediate impact on the harvest and potential food production. "Likewise, it seems that we are approaching a pivotal moment in history where agreement is beginning to emerge that 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. (98)" Unlike the locust effect of the 1870's, where the entire species died off by the end of the decade, the poor and violence against them does not appear to be declining. The question raised here revolves around why. Why are poverty and violence not declining in a world with massive amounts of monetary and material assistance. Haugen determines to answer this question in the middle chapters.

Here, Haugen, provides three striking reasons for this lack of affect. First, "most law enforcement systems in the developing world are colonial relics that were never set up to protect the poor from violence. (197)" Second, "elites with wealth and power in the developing world have abandoned these dysfunctional public justice systems and have set up systems of private security that protect them from the poor and violence. (197)" Third, "the massive global movement to address poverty in the developing world over the last half century has not made a meaningful effort to address the problem. (198)" So, what can we do, today, to alleviate or at least begin the process of affecting change? Haugen's final chapter provides excellent examples of where to begin, join, or promote.

Overall, The Locust Effect is a MUST READ for anyone even slightly interested in helping those in need. Non-profits will find the structure and source material to begin or refocus their journey, churches will find the biblical mandate to love God and love their neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39), while living out the great commission (Matt 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8).