In last week’s essay on this subject, I left out that when members address the House, they should direct their remarks to Mr. Speaker. During their speech, they may make references to individuals, inside or outside the House, but when they refer to other members, they must always use the term “Honorable” before the electoral division he represents, or his official title e.g. Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition. Members of your own side may be referred to as “My Honorable Friend” and, of the Opposition, as the “Honorable Gentleman.” Therefore, there is no room in Parliament for the use of the personal pronoun “you” in a speech in the House because, a member should never be addressed directly.
Parliament is an institution that the people should revere. So. It has been the practice for the Speaker to set standards by declaring what he considers to be unparliamentary language. I would like to suggest that the use of “they” or “them,” when referring to the government or Opposition should be discontinued.
To the ICJ
I have just finished reading Assad Shoman’s booklet, which claims to be a guide to assist us in making up our minds on whether we should vote “yes” or “no” in the referendum. It is more than that. It is a most clear, cogent, comprehensive, yet condensed, presentation on the whole question of what needs to be considered in coming to a well-informed and wise decision. If you were opposed to the referendum in the beginning, and, you still are after reading the Guide, perhaps it might be that you are like Caesar, constant like the northern star and, cannot be moved and your mind is set. I always thought that an affirmative vote to go to the ICJ was the sensible thing to do and, now I am convinced that it is the best thing to do.
I think it would be appropriate here to deal with a question raised by my good friend, Senator Henry Gordon. He asked on a local television program where he was a co-host, “How can the International Court of Justice be asked to make a decision about the border between Belize and Guatemala, when that border is firmly established and defined in the Constitution of Belize?” His position is, unless our Constitution is amended, the border cannot be submitted to a court for determination.
I beg to differ with the Honorable Senator. The Constitution can be amended, suspended or replaced by a vote of ¾ the membership of the House of Representatives. What is of the greatest significance is that the sovereignty of our nation resides in the people of Belize, represented by the electorate. The Constitution belongs to the people, not the people to the Constitution. How can the Constitution prevent the people from settling a difference between itself and another country, in the only way possible? Belize is a member of the international family of nations and that body has decreed that the ICJ is the means how differences between members of the family are settled.
If we wish to be considered as responsible and worthy to be a member of that family, what choice have we but to let the institution specifically established to prevent armed conflict between disputing nations, do its work.
The children of neglect
In the absence of statistics, let us say for the purpose of this essay, that out of a hundred children born in Belize, eighty-five find themselves in circumstances where their basic needs are met. A child needs much more for his healthy physical, mental and moral development but, a child whose basic needs are provided for has a good head start in life.
So. According to our assessment, fifteen of our future citizens are born in circumstances where no one provides for their basic needs, much less the other things necessary to produce good, decent, law-abiding, productive citizens. Using accounting terms, are these fifteen likely to become assets or liabilities in our society when they grow up?
Every child has the potential to be an asset. What he becomes depends to a large extent on what is invested in his development. For the fortunate eighty-five, parents and other members make the investment. Money is only a part of it. Who does for the unfortunate fifteen? Those responsible for these children’s welfare can’t or don’t do enough. They are unlikely to fulfill their potential. It is unlikey that they will become assets to the society when they grow up. Instead, they may become liabilities. All because, society, or rather the state, did not make the necessary investment in their development while they were children, or they thought they could not afford to.
What is plaguing society today in the form of juvenile delinquency and adult crime are citizens who have no skills, no education, no occupation and no hope, who have decided to survive by preying on other citizens. These are our children of neglect.
Pledge of Allegiance
We are a nation of several ethnic groups, the largest being the Mestizos, which is a mixture of Hispanics and Mayas. The next largest group are the “so-called” Creoles, which is a mixture of European and African. So almost all Belizeans are a mixture of two or more ethnic groups. For example, this columnist is part Scot, part African, part Maya, part Cherokee, etc. Almost all Belizeans are mixed; even the Garinagu are a mixture of Arawak and African. We are all Belizeans. That is our nationality but, we are not yet a nation. Too many things divide us, such as tribal and party loyalties. Not many of us are prepared to make the supreme sacrifice in the service of our country.
That is why we do not fully appreciate our musicians, writers and artists. We have no sense that we should promote, encourage and patronize our own rather than another country’s. We are loyal to our schoolmates, team mates and members of organizations we belong to. A commendable spirit to be fostered. We need to go on a grand scale to establish a feeling of comradeship as a special people called “Belizeans.”
A Pledge of Allegiance should be the first thing in building the nation. If our schoolchildren pledged allegiance to our country Belize, our constitution and our laws, institutions and traditions, and promise to preserve, protect and defend them for eight years of primary school and four years of secondary school, twelve years altogether, what it would do for their sense of nationhood would transform this country.
The Gender Policy
What is contained in the Policy document are supposed to be proposals by a Commission chosen by the National Organization of Women, an arm of the United Democratic Party. The People’s United Party have their own women’s organization. The main purpose of the Policy is gender equity which seeks to establish an even playing field in the areas of our national public life where men and women compete for positions. This is my understanding of the main thrust of the Policy and, if my understanding is correct, I think that this is a commendable objective.
The Policy also legitimizes homosexuality and promises to make laws protecting them from discrimination. It would seem that the policy is to promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle by having this taught on our schools.
The government has the power (given to it by the people) to enact any law or adopt any policy but, knowing that the majority of Belizeans are people of faith, who strongly disapprove of homosexuality and consider it an evil, adopting such a policy is against the will of the people.