A country is not truly free until it takes its freedom. This is something basic all Belizeans must come to understand. I borrow this gem of wisdom, insight and foresight, from the late Frantz Fanon, born on the Caribbean island of Martinique, trained as a psychiatrist in France, and who worked in French colonized Algeria where, in the 1950’s, he joined the Algerians in their efforts to evict the French.
When I, as a young 20- something year old, first entered business school, I was shocked to the core to hear in one of my first class sessions that “a business (is an entity that) exists to make a profit.” Business’ sole purpose for existing is to make a profit! Now, even the untrained understands profit. But my instincts resisted that definition. My instincts detected something that went against all that is just and good, something totally unnatural.
During the many years since, as I engaged in and observed “business,” I have seen the more sordid implications of the philosophy “exists to make a profit” surreptitiously and overtly, even viciously and inhumanely, play out in too many instances. At first I witnessed this throughout the continental U.S.A. where I live. I have now lived long enough to watch in horror as “business,” which we now call “big business,” “multi-national corporations,” spread this sordidness throughout the globe to make a profit – limitless profit.
The most deceitful, crudest and “cruelest” characteristic of big business is that it can present itself as bringing a “better life” with all its freedoms and goodness. Show me the human being who does not want a good life with all its imagined frills and trappings. This promise of life intoxicates; peoples and governments fall under its influence and, I dare to say, actually lose their minds and objectivity, become stupefied. They are transported into a false reality where they must scratch and claw and turn against one another. Peoples and governments sell themselves, literally body and soul, to get a piece of this so-called good life.
It astounds me that so many cannot see that all this can have only one outcome: the loss of self-ownership and freedom. Bluntly and simply put, it is ultimately subservience and death. As the saying goes where I live, it doesn’t take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure that out; or in Belize, a blind man can see that. But that’s what being drunk does to one’s senses.
Belize was granted freedom in 1981 by the colonizers, some say because their business corporations saw no more value in this little piece of real estate. But freedom granted is not true freedom. It is a facade and a farce, a weak structure prone to compromise, crumbling under a little persuasion or pressure. It can be taken back at any time under any pretense, circumstance or guise.
Freedom taken, through the realization of self-worth, through dedication to country and countrymen, through the intellect, the soul, with the utmost of sacrifice, even flesh and blood, is true freedom. This kind of freedom is instinctively guarded and protected with never-ending and fierce vigilance. You pay for it, but you own it.
The cane farmers of Orange Walk, not to forget the Toledo Maya and the homegrown Belizean tour operators among others, know that true freedom is freedom taken, and freedom taken is freedom owned – lock, stock and barrel.
The Belizean government, the man and woman in the street, the academic, the professional, leaders of all stripes, would be wise to wake up and fight for true freedom.