My understanding of the terrible gun violence on Daly Street last Friday evening, so terrible because the gunman almost deliberately claimed the life of an innocent 7- year-old boy, is that it was a case of civil war inside of the larger Belize City civil war. In other words, a neighborhood which would ordinarily be in conflict with other neighborhoods, began to “beef” inside its own organization.
We saw this happen on Mayflower Street, which is just a few small blocks east of Partridge Street, a year or two ago, and it was very bad. The police had to establish a presence on Mayflower which has become practically permanent. Young blood relatives had become enraged with each other to the point where they were willing to kill each other.
When you see this type of internal neighborhood violence taking place, it is because the struggle for human survival has become so desperate that food, and issues ultimately related to food, are taking absolute precedence over peace and love and other cherished human values. It’s sad. We’ll never get to know how gifted some of these young Belizeans may be, because they are killed or crippled “before their time,” as the Creole saying goes.
I suppose there are successful elements amongst our people who view thinking such as mine as that of the “bleeding heart liberal.” To be truthful, I’ve been thinking the way I think today from the time I was a child growing up in British Honduras. This is how my father taught me to think. My father had maximum respect for talent and merit, and when he discerned talent and merit, he never discriminated because of ethnicity, color, class, religion, or such.
Because of the competitive instincts amongst young boys growing up to manhood in a small community and a small society, it is natural for those less gifted to become infected sometimes with feelings of jealousy with respect to those more gifted. The thing about life, it seems to me, is that almost all of us have some gift or the other, so one may well be feeling jealous of a contemporary when someone else is feeling jealous of one at the same time. Most of us grow out of such feelings. We achieve maturity.
In British Honduras before I went away at the age of 18 in 1965, I was somewhat and relatively privileged because my father was the head of a government department. For you to think like a bleeding heart liberal, it appears to me, you have to be enjoying some sort of superior status. You cannot have a bleeding heart liberal perspective on the socio-economic conditions of an individual or a group if you are actually a member of such a group or if you are inferior socio-economically to that group. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that bleeding heart liberals are people who can afford to be sorry for other people because the bleeding heart liberal is eating three meals a day.
Technically then, perhaps my father and I may have been described as bleeding heart liberals of sorts. But it was not that we were sorry for anyone: we were eager for our community and our society to benefit from the gifts and merits of those we saw around us who were not being given opportunity. Let me qualify the previous statement by saying that I am speaking only for myself. My dad can still speak for himself, and he will probably do so if you question him.
It is for sure that in America between 1965 and 1968, I was not in any mind of superior status. I was broke, lonely, and homesick. Plus, I was black in a white racist, white supremacist society. I may have become a revolutionary, in the sense that I wanted to achieve change, by any means necessary. For sure, a revolutionary is different from a bleeding heart liberal.
Revolutionary change, however, was impossible in Belize, because the system of scheduled democratic elections theoretically made orderly change possible, thus apparently rendering revolution unnecessary. As all of us Belizeans, at home and abroad, have now seen, the changes from PUP to UDP and vice versa are only cosmetic changes. Only the clowns change: the circus always remains.
If I was a bleeding heart liberal, say, before I went away, did I revert to being a bleeding heart liberal after the revolutionary UBAD experience was over? This becomes a kind of academic exercise, because I would contest the pre-1965 designation of bleeding heart liberal, in the first instance.
The reality is that the bullets that tore into the chests of Tiliman’s young son and his even younger cousin on Daly Street Friday evening were not an academic exercise. Do you know that another of Tiliman’s young adult sons is serving a long sentence in Hattieville prison for attempted murder, after he was tried without a jury? And do you know, dear readers that Tiliman was the greatest Belizean footballer of the last three decades in Belize? Are you any closer to understanding why the recent Kaina Martinez injustice enraged me so?
Can you not see that there is a sickness in this Belize? I would suggest to you that, on a societal level, Belize’s sickness is the equivalent of the pathology which drove King Herod to murder thousands of babies in the mad hope that the Christ Jesus was one of them.
What can I say? Have we now become fascist, like Guatemala and Honduras? The column is futile. The fascists will not even blink. When I was a young man, I marched. Now I am an old man. I grieve.
It is important that I point specifically and explicitly at what the issue is here. Tiliman, arguably the greatest Belizean footballer of our lifetime, should have been in a situation where his children did not have to become victims of the neighborhood wars. I’m not saying that Tiliman was and is a perfect father. Only God is perfect. I am saying that the best should have been treated like the best by the nation-state of Belize. Instead, he was disrespected and victimized and continues to be disrespected and victimized by football bureaucrats. This is how Belize works, beloved. In Belize, it doesn’t matter if you’re the best if you are black. In The Jewel, black is a curse. In The Jewel, black trumps best. I’ve been watching these injustices here my entire conscious lifetime.