(This column was first published in the Amandala issue of Friday, March 10, 1995)
A problem…in search of solution…
We are of the consensual opinion that one of the most distressing problems besetting our young nation of Belize is what to do with our children, our boy-men children, particularly those of the gangs. Everyone seems to have a solution; the government, the churches, the NGO’s all have their say with legislation, church groups, field trips. In all this, however, nobody seems to ask the youths what they want, what is their problem and what would be their solution.
It is an opinion that the present day young man has grown up in a void caused by Hurricane Hattie and the post-Hattie era. After this hurricane their parents abandoned them to the care of their granmas, to aunts and uncles, to friends and neighbors, to strangers, to go to the U.S.A. at the most critical time of their lives, a time when love, discipline, education, the bond of family was crucial for their psychological development. Granma was too old to care for them, friends and neighbors made them feel inferior to their own children, and strangers couldn’t care less after they received their sporadic cheques.
Abandonment brought mistrust of all and sundry, no knowledge of love from a mother, no experience of a hug or a touch or discipline, no male smell of a father, no one to oversee the basics of education. Abuse brought anger and range and hate. Inculcation of inferiority reinforced their despair, hopelessness and confusion. Lack of all these has resulted in an asocial boy-man. When he looks about him he hears people lecture: “Do as I say, but not as I do.” He listens to the preachments of people who are exploiting him. He observes the lifestyles of “leaders” who promise but do not deliver. He suffers the beatings and indignities of authority figures. The only solution he hears is more of the same.
Is it any wonder that our boy-men who know not love, form gangs for security and protection, are forced to “jack” to eat and to want the nice things they see on the “idiotic box” called the television, the new Bible of the white man? Should it surprise that being psychologically castrated, they father as many as they can, believing this to be an affirmation of their masculinity, feeling no responsibility, abandoning their children as they were abandoned? Should it shock that having been educationally emasculated, they are unprepared for the speed and complexity of present society? Is not their cynicism, disrespect and distrust justified when they hear their leaders legislate the continuance of their status quo?
It is a suggestion in search of solution: legislate for them, not against them; legislate hope, not tyranny.
As a boy-man in search of solution and if you took time out to listen to me, I would suggest that:
You establish a national trust fund in the National Workers Bank to keep the money being exported, at home to establish agricultural, vocational and technical facilities for I and my brethren’s benefit.
You expand the literacy program so that I can learn to read and write and count; if I am my country’s future, then at least I need to know and understand the machinations of the North’s programs.
You subsidize school lunch programs so that I can look forward to at least one good meal daily, enabling me to concentrate on my teacher instead of listening to the rumblings of my empty belly.
You legislate apprenticeship programs so that I may learn to work. Reimburse the employer for any losses suffered because of my ignorance and illiteracy. In time this will be cheaper than having to support me in jail.
You restore my respect for you and other authority figures by your living what you preach: austerity for me, then austerity for you; do not assume I am guilty and automatically beat me up and demean me because of my tattered clothes and scavenged shoes.
You give me hope by allowing me to participate in programs and discussions involving self. It is I who will develop my country. It is I who lives here that is the culture and best know what is in my best interests…I do not wish to continue to be the fodder for the North. I am sure my other brethren have other suggestions.
I realize that the mythology of our time began with Adam eating the apple of knowledge, thereby declaring his independence of Jah, and the first fruit of this ego trip was for Cain to kill Abel, a folly from which I am yet to recover. Perhaps if you and I listen and heed the words of Jesus the Christ, the Blood of Jah, I may be able to escape the crypt of doom the power brokers have assigned me…let’s listen and hear again…
“And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child and set him by Him, and said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in My name receiveth Me, and whoever shall receive Me, receiveth Him that sent Me, for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.”
“The truth lies not in our stars, dear Brutus, but in ourselves.”
– Alpha and Omega… Jah…