This is a dream I have had and continue to see after visiting my homeland Belize. I had been away for eight years this time, and how time has changed . Now while I am no Dr. King, I don’t think he would mind if I borrowed his theme just for a moment. I really do have a dream.
Since returning home to Phoenix after my visit to Belize, I had a chance to reflect and think about the possibilities. It dawned on me that my little Belize has a lot to offer to Belizeans both home and abroad. Belize has a lot to offer to people of many difference races – blacks, whites, brown and yellow. I have a dream that my little Belize will one day grow up from a diamond in the rough to a nice and shinning diamond sparkling in the Caribbean and beyond and taking its seat on the world stage for all the right reasons, yes, I have a dream.
I have a dream that my Belizean brothers and sisters will rise above the many obstacles that appear to hold us down and show the world that we as a people working together can accomplish the impossible. We will show the world that we and only we as a people hold in our hands the future of our lives and our kids’ and grandkids’ lives, as well as our very existence. I have a dream that one day, we as a people won’t have to be on the streets begging for handouts; we won’t have to run to a Minister’s house or office for a little stipend, because we will be too busy going to school, too busy studying, and working and building our own businesses. We will be too busy creating our music, our poetry, our talent show; we will be too busy practicing our craft, our sport of choice and finding ways to market ourselves and our businesses.
Yes, I have a dream.
I have a dream of a time when the most fortunate of Belizeans, the educated, the rich and powerful, the big fish, the intellect, the doctor, the nurse, the Belizean American, will stand up and be counted as being a part of the solution instead of the problem. They will take a direct role in the lives of some that didn’t have the opportunity to advance but have shown a willingness to learn, to try, to do what it takes to elevate themselves from the pits of the desperate.
I have a dream. Belizeans at the top will not disparage my brothers and sisters, but will use the available mediums to shed a positive light and focus on the good, focus on the potential, focus on the possibilities, focus on what could be instead of what may have been. The world is watching, the world is watching and they are taking notes. I have a dream, my people.
I can see the day when no one will be scared to walk on any street, or ride on any street, or stop and greet a friend on any street corner because they think they will get shot or mugged. These kids on the street corners are not evil; they are hungry. They are not muggers; they are untrained. They are not criminals; they need directions and guidance and a way to sustain themselves and their families. They want a piece of the pie too.
A man has to eat; undesirable acts are not the way to go, but in reality, sometimes they know no other avenue, which is very sad but not unique in this world. I have a dream that this will all change one day. I can see the day when these young men will be missing from the block, missing from the street corners, because they will be in training, learning new skills, real world skills. They will become teachers, store owners, group organizers, and will be teaching the next generation of youths what to do and what not to do.
There is a role for everyone; even the gangster has a role because he has knowledge that a youngster can use to navigate through life. He too has been through some stuff and he can pass that on and show some of these kids why not to do certain things. Yes, I have a dream.
I can see the day when we resolve the traffic jam with freeways, yes I said it, freeways… I can see us building freeways over the canals. I can see the day when you get in your car from Mike’s Club and jump on the freeway ramp which puts you on an elevated freeway over the canal lengthwise and takes you out to as far as the old burial grounds across from Wesley College in less than a minute.
I can see this freeway extension going over the waters through Birds Isle and out to Fort George. I can see another going in the opposite direction over the waters behind the port and all the way to the Western Highway. I can see Central American Boulevard as an elevated freeway with activities underneath it such as commerce and the like. I can see North Creek as a shopping center with all kinds of stores and shops; it sure is wide enough. Imagine the amount of jobs and business opportunities for Belizeans.
I can see a day when Albert Street will be for pedestrians only and parking would be on the peripheral. Think about it, if we have a traffic jam now, think about five, ten years from now. I have a dream, my brothers and sisters. I have a dream.
I believe we have more oil and other natural resources, maybe even gold; lets invest in this research. I can see gas prices at half what it currently is at this point. Let’s train our own people and drill for oil where appropriate, oil that stays in the country. Let’s build our own refineries; we can do it and we will. I see that day; I have that dream.
I can see medical and health insurance for all Belizeans; we are a rich country – we can pay for it. I can see the day when we are in a situation where no one will be scared to go to the public hospital for fear of negligent services because it will be the best in the country and the region. We have the talent, people, and we can do it. Just imagine all the skilled workers we have in America at this very moment; what if we could get just a small percentage to come back home with all their expertise and knowledge; we could do just about anything, anything. I have a dream.
I am not one to blame Government for my problems, because ministers are just people. We all have fallen short of the glory. The people elect the Ministers; if they don’t like their performance there is a way to fix it; it’s called get out and vote. Ministers don’t walk into office. People put them there, so, as I said earlier, there is always a fix. I do see the day when people won’t be so focused on what the government can do for them but what they can do for themselves. They will not give up their rights to accountability and proper representation, but looking for a handout is not an option.
People want real opportunity, so that they can maintain their pride, dignity, self-respect, self-worth, power and fortitude. We as Belizeans want to look in the mirror and smile because we are an independent people not reliant on Government subsidy. I have that dream, my brothers and sisters, and I can see it coming.
Like Mr. King, whom I don’t claim to be or know, I may not see these things, but I can see it in the distance in my dream.
Raymond G. Lashley
602 459 5514