Features — 25 April 2014 — by Janus

You have to consider this question from different points of view. First, the citizens of a nation which affirms the supremacy of God think that we are made in the image and likeness of the Most High. Your life is His gift brought into existence by the miracle of procreation. Therefore, your life is priceless.

Secondly, let us be specific. A man who was head of an establishment that offered electrical services was murdered in his 35th year of life. He would have had a reasonable expectation of at least 35 more years of earnings. Let’s say he earned $70 thousand a year. In thirty five more years he would have earned about 2 ½ million dollars. So this amount represents what would have been his loss of earnings for himself and his family. But that would not be the sum total of the value of his life.

Let us consider the question from a different angle. Your life may be worth the price another may assign to it. You are a resident of Belize City, one of the top 3 murder capitals of the world. Is not the answer to the question of your worth what someone is willing to pay for you to be killed?

When a person is killed, his life is ended – something priceless and irreplaceable is lost forever on earth; a precious life is snuffed out against the sacred will of the Lifegiver. The society and Government, in particular, don’t feel distressed because in their judgment the law enforcement and the justice system have been provided to protect you.

Let us consider the loss to the nation in the past three years, during which three hundred Belizean citizens have been murdered. In the light of average earnings of the victims mentioned before, our loss as a nation would be about 250 million dollars. But remember the value of a man is much more than his earnings.

So should not society, in general, and the Government, in particular, do more than they have done to stop the pollution of the Belizean earth with the blood of our brethren? It is written in the Book of Numbers that the blood of the murdered man pollutes the land, which can only be cleansed by the blood of his killer. Holy Scriptures are quite explicit on this subject. The clergy can have no doubt what their position should be and what they should teach their flocks, including our political leaders, also including the members of the judiciary and of the Bar Association.

The people of Belize are confident that their government knows how to restore peace and order, and also what needs to be done to bring the murder rate down to double digits within a short time and still further down fifty percent in a single year.

The Government knows what needs to be done, but it seems, from the pronouncements of our Foreign Minister, that in the matter of our penal system it may not exercise its autonomy. This is not in accordance with our Constitution, which declares that the acts of government should reflect the will of the people. If in a democratic nation, the will of the people does not inform the decisions of its government, then that democracy has ceased to exist.

What we have is a problem. It is to convince our friends in the international community that the common people of Belize know best what forms of punishment for crime are acceptable, desirable and effective, having regard to our culture, traditions, experience, history, and the present state of affairs, where citizens no longer enjoy a sense of security.

It is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to make the case for our government to secure international support in exercising its proper authority in accord with the expressed will of the people.

So now, let us reconsider the proposed question in the light of what I have already written in this essay. I put it to you personally: what do you think your life is worth? I would like to suggest your answer should be: what is the government prepared to do and what price are our rulers prepared to pay to protect our lives?

What do you think?

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