Features — 02 September 2017

It may be arrogance, but, maybe wisdom to compare ourselves to the richest, mightiest empire that has ever existed.

The United States is the biggest melting pot of peoples that has ever struggled on this planet. Belize is the littlest. To compare these two extremes may seem comic but because we share this quality of the melding of every tribe and race of man into one nation, one people living at peace with itself; and all its sections, finding its unique dignity among a great diversity of goals, biases, prejudices and dreams, the comparison is not ridiculous.

Belize’s major problem may be its tiny size. We simply do not have the multitudes that are needed to shoulder massive projects of physical development. On the other hand, America’s size with its somewhat infinity of interests is its biggest contemporary problem. Its younger generations have forgotten that when their forbears arrived on the shores of the free they made a pledge to a social contract to become one nation out of many peoples (e pluribus unum).

On the other hand, Belize’s major problem is not caused by tribalism or racism. Our greatest plague is violence that is callous and destructive, because its cause is simply greed. Does anyone understand or even know what happens to the millions that come or pass through here that is made off illegal trades?

How do we improve our jewel, how do we suggest to America what they should do to save their mighty nation that we still look up to as the Land of the Free?

With all its faults, I believe like most Belizeans, we continue to love America. I guess our admiration and love is because it is the only empire in the whole of human history that has conquered, helped and left its future to be determined by its own people.

We love Britain too, especially because they recognized when it was time to leave and did so, giving us the time and help we would need to survive – which we have done for almost four decades.

I am glad that in the process of seeking to run our own affairs as an independent nation we did not chuck parliamentary democracy, our great Civil Service and most of all the great English language, the tongue of William Shakespeare and many other immortals. I am so glad that we still admire giants like Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and others. (By the way, I think it is naïve to think that any one of these and other heroes were perfect human beings.)

Today, as an independent nation state, thankfully our leaders acknowledge that to continue improving the material wellbeing of all our people we need help.

I never thought that a nation that is almost as young as we are would become our foremost development helper. I love Taiwan and its people and delight in the way they have been a support to us. Perhaps they may become more judicious in providing the mechanisms to ensure that their hard earned money benefits all of the people and not just public fat cats.

There is one little thing that we can start doing – I mean this at the grass roots level. I cringe over and over when I wait in a neighborhood shop and a child rushes in hollering, “One ideal, chiney.” I hate this! Please, let us teach our children ordinary courtesy. Mothers, fathers, teachers, let us teach our children basic respect for person – everybody is our brother or sister.

It is a simple lesson that we must learn – especially we who live in the two greatest melting pots in the world.
All Americans must one once again realize and live with conviction that anarchism, nihilism and plain hatred has never ever, built a great society. Following the teaching of iconoclasts is futile; it never changes any hearts.

I believe an experience I had in America may be helpful.

It was 1957, I was doing voluntary work at Desloge Hospital for Blacks in East St. Louis, MO. On this first fateful morning, I found myself at the foot of the bed of a patient – a giant of a man. He was so big that his huge feet hung over the bed. As I lifted my eyes I became aware of the fierce and fearsome gaze of this huge man – maybe as big as, or bigger than Shaq. Curiously, I was unafraid and moved to the head of the bed. As I spoke softly a word of greeting, perhaps miraculously, his whole attitude softened. Perhaps, as he looked into my eyes he did not see an enemy but just someone who was different. I must emphasize how this giant looked me straight in the eye; and I, pygmy though I must have seemed to him, looked him back straight in the eye. Something fantastic (maybe miraculous) happened at that very moment an unspeakable bond of trust became established between us so that we could never again see each other without a feeling of acceptance. We ended that first encounter with him inviting me to have dinner with him and his family at his home. I have never forgotten this friend and how we first met.

I don’t know that my puny words would ever qualify to appear before the great ones of America. But if they could and did, I would plead: Don’t forget that none (no one) of us is perfect. We are human and have all made mistakes. One of the biggest is to delude ourselves to think that your looks or mine qualifies and certifies greatness. Let us judge each other by the content of our character. Its main qualities should be mercy and forgiveness!

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Eden Cruz

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