At a certain point, most of us from the oppressed peoples in Third World countries realize that we have to make certain individual compromise decisions in order to do the best we can for our families. Some of us make such compromise decisions very early in life. We become focused on achieving for self; we ignore kind, we even disparage kind. Other of us fight the power, as it is said, for a while, because we seriously love our own people. We have the hope that we can make it individually without exploiting or harming our own people. But, as I said in the first sentence of this essay, most of us in oppressed societies end up realizing that we can’t save others: we need to try to save self.
In my personal mind, this is how I define oppression. It is a condition in which one has to sacrifice others, if only symbolically, in order to achieve for self. Let’s look at an example of a brother or sister who reaches the boardrooms, where the big decisions are made by public and private companies. Such a brother or sister cannot develop a reputation for being too concerned about the consumers, or the people as such, because his or her financial and career welfare depend on professed, total loyalty to the company, and the maximum profits thereof.
Let’s look at how the survival/success mentality operates in party politics. Before we proceed, let’s remember now that it is through the politics of Belize’s two major political parties that we operate what it is we think of as parliamentary democracy. As the years have gone by after independence in 1981, especially in the last two decades, daring Belizean thinkers have become extremely critical of our so-called democracy. But, it is what we have, it is all we have, and there are many nation-states who are trying to achieve the level of democracy we enjoy in Belize. Still, I also want you to remember that, while we are democratic, we are oppressed. And, as I have said before, oppression is a condition in which you have to sacrifice your brother and sister to achieve benefits for your individual self.
The main purpose of the previous paragraph is to insist that I understand how important party politics is to our parliamentary democracy, and to establish that, as a Belizean, I must have respect for our party politicians. And, I do. But I insist on the right to point out that the successful party politician has to make a deal with the devil in order to have his/her political party reward him/her with victory. The loyalty which the politician gives to his/her party, whether it is the UDP or the PUP, ultimately requires consent by silence to the felonies of his/her colleagues. That is why some self-righteous people in the UDP cannot say anything about Vega or Penner. That is why some self-righteous people in the PUP never said anything about “you know who” and “who all.” But, they take Holy Communion.
For a society to reach a higher level of functional parliamentary democracy, that society needs to nurture its independent thinkers, and, of course, the free press. This weekend two of our independent thinkers, Yasser Musa at St. John’s College and David Ruiz at the Community for Cultural and Historical Endeavors (CACHE) in Benque Viejo have organized major intellectual events. Yasser will be holding a Caste War event on Friday afternoon at the Landivar campus, while David is having the 7th Annual International Festival of Culture, which features a regional conference of writers. I urge you to support these two events.
I am positive Yasser is a PUP supporter, but I know very little about David, apart from meeting him in February at Pen Cayetano’s event. The personal politics of Yasser and David is of little consequence to me. I live in a world where I extol and exalt independent thought. I believe independent thought will take place at Landivar on Friday afternoon and in Benque Viejo on Saturday morning.
Power to the people.