“On June 22, 1897, the same year Lebensraum was born in Germany, British expansionist policy reached its peak. The greatest empire in the history of the world celebrated itself with unequaled arrogance.
“Representatives of all the peoples and territories subjugated by the British, almost a quarter of the earth and its inhabitants, gathered in London to pay tribute to Queen Victoria on the sixtieth anniversary of her ascension to the throne.
“Her empire had grown by three and a half million square miles and a hundred and fifty million subjects. It had caught up with and surpassed China, which, with her four hundred millions had hitherto been considered the most populous realm in the world.
“Perhaps the other great powers in Europe had not sufficiently understood the military strength of the British Empire, it was said. There was more fighting instinct and military spirit in the British than in any other nation. As far as the navy was concerned, the empire had not only superiority, but supremacy over the high seas.
“The British had not let themselves be intoxicated by their successes, but maintained a humble recognition that these results – perhaps unparalleled in history – were due to the grace and favor of Almighty God.”
– pg. 14, “Exterminate All The Brutes”, by Sven Lindqvist, The New Press, New York, 1992
There are absurdities and contradictions in life, one of the most interesting and relevant being the fact that from the day you are born, you actually begin to die. From one perspective, then, life is a journey to death.
Along this journey, human beings develop different outlooks on the life process in which they are involved, and sometimes we describe these different outlooks as religions, or philosophies. We humans are always trying to explain, to understand, the absurdities and contradictions, yea the pains, which are features of life.
For most human beings, there is what we call a work week. Then there is a weekend. Before our third millennium time, the work week in the Western world was sometimes six days, and the weekend was only one day – usually called the Sabbath. For most of us, work has elements of drudgery, so the spiritual renewal usually associated with Sabbath activities had a practical function in that spiritual renewal assisted us in facing another week of work. On the Sabbath, we found a meaning for life in faiths which strengthened us.
In the case of the majority of Belizeans, important, life-changing events occurred for our ancestors in the fifteenth century, more than five centuries ago, when Europe first began to enter the African and American continents. Entry, of course, soon became invasion and conquest, the conquerors being Europeans who practiced different Christian religions.
In the beginning of entry into Africa, decades before Christopher Columbus reached America, it was the Portuguese who led the way, and they were Roman Catholic. As the Europeans began to build empires which linked Africa and America by sea travel, the two European nations which became the most powerful were Roman Catholic Spain and Protestant (Anglican) England/Scotland. The French, who were a mixture of Catholic and Protestant, and the Dutch, who were mostly Protestant, also became wealthy imperialists. They would be followed by the Germans, the Scandinavian countries, and finally the Belgians. All these conquering Europeans were Christians: they believed in the crucified and resurrected Christ.
The human beings who had been living in Africa and America for millennia before the coming of the Europeans, were of many thousands of different tribes, and they practiced many different religions, of which, with one notable exception, none were Christian. The great prophet of Christianity, Jesus Christ, a Jew, was born, lived and died in the northeastern part of Africa. He spent the first twelve years of His life in Egypt, which had been the home of planet earth’s greatest civilizations before His time. There had been contact between the East Africans of Ethiopia and the Jewish people in the area of Christ’s homeland, an area we call Israel and Palestine today, and Ethiopia has a Christian tradition going way back, preceded by documented contact with such Old Testament Jewish figures as Moses, Abraham, and King Solomon.
In the area we now call Saudi Arabia, which is east across the Red Sea from Israel, Palestine, and Egypt, a mighty new prophet arose about six centuries after Christ, and his name was Muhammad. The religion he founded is known as Islam, and this religion had spread to some parts of Africa before the entry/invasion of the Christian Europeans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Throughout the history of mankind, probably the most important human exercise has been the waging of war. Those who were the losers in war were destroyed, absorbed, or plain disappeared. Those who were the victors in war established rule over conquered territory, their scholars wrote the histories of the wars, and their triumphant cultures and civilizations spread into new lands and became the brands of success, so to speak. The gods of the conquerors became the gods of the conquered. Religion was an appendage of war: faith accompanied the cannon and the sword. Gods who won wars were superior to gods who lost them. This was the unwritten truism of life in Africa and America after Europe came, saw, and conquered.
A way of life was imposed upon our ancestors which our generation, that born after World War II, came to know as we grew up here. That way of life, promulgated in Belize’s schools and socio-cultural institutions, was a Christian way of life. The civilizations which essentially imposed the Christian religion in this region were European civilizations, and their European cultures were based on a specific work ethic and vision of life which emphasized the acquisition of material wealth, scientific progress, and life after death.
The Christian European civilizations had completed their conquest of all the known world, including Africa and America, when they began to fight amongst themselves for control of the world in the early part of the twentieth century. The Europeans fought so-called World Wars among themselves from 1914 to 1918, and then again from 1939 to 1945, the Asian nation of Japan being a major player in the second of these two World Wars.
Near the end of World War II, the Europeans (and for the purposes of this essay we here include the United States among the Europeans) developed a weapon which the United States used to finish off Japan in August of 1945. The weapon was called the atomic bomb, which later became refined into an even more powerful weapon called the hydrogen bomb. At this point, humanity had entered the nuclear age: it gradually became clear that the Europeans had developed the ability to destroy not only their enemies, but also planet earth and human life itself. European man had become God-like.
Since the nuclear age began, the toxicity of planet earth has increased exponentially. Thousands of forms of plant, fish, bird, and animal life, all Biblically created by the Christian God, have disappeared forever from planet earth. These forms of life have become extinct. Progressive scientists amongst the European peoples began to discover a frightening, dangerous reality between five and six decades ago. At that point in time, we innocent African and Indigenous American peoples were all still absolutely chasing the European dream of material wealthy and scientific progress. It was the Europeans themselves who began to see that their dream could become a human nightmare. If other forms of created life were becoming extinct, then the same could and would happen to humanity. Thus, I suppose, was born the environmental movement.
Conscious Europeans began to go to African and Indigenous American peoples to find out what were our ancestors’ secrets, what were our ancestors’ belief systems, and what were, indeed, our ancestors’ religions. The danger into which humanity has thrust itself, has been manifested in various ways, the latest being the increasingly discussed phenomenon of climate change. Conscious Europeans are turning to Africans and Indigenous Americans for assistance in addressing world problems. But, the ruling, corporate class of Europeans have insisted on continuing and expanding their fossil fuel ways. Around us, their corporations have been hiring killers to murder roots environmentalists in Honduras and Guatemala.
There is an important aspect to the Guatemalan claim to Belize which involves corporate greed versus environmental consciousness. The racist aspect of the Guatemalan claim is less important than it was six decades ago. What the claim represents now, is the attempt by transnational corporations to access the pristine natural resources of Belize in pursuance of the European dream which has become a world nightmare. That is why when you hear our local politicians all crying out for foreign direct investment, you must understand that such cries, at the end of the proverbial day, amount to support for the Guatemalan claim. It is written.
Power to the people. Remember Danny Conorquie. Honor Staff Sgt. Richard Lambey. Big up, Wil Maheia.