Letters — 31 May 2013 — by Rolando Cocom

Dear Editor,

In a recent article from the publisher, Evan X Hyde renders a motivational epilogue to young people which I enjoyed reading (see May 24, 2013). Indeed, the editor also recently made similar remarks on the role of the youth for a more democratic Belize (see May 17, 2013).

I center these comments on the phrase “Consciousness of being versus being conscious.” – A phrase which still puzzles me ever since I first heard it during a session with a brilliant historian at UB. It speaks of a difference between two levels of thought life. It is between lower levels versus higher levels of thinking. One refers to a level of thought which accepts circumstances at face value. This is being conscious, being alive. On the other hand, consciousness of being refers to a level of thought which examines why we are faced with such circumstances in the first place. The higher level seeks to deconstruct and problematize the assumptions we take for granted. Regrettably, it is this higher level which our current education lacks.

Karl Marx asserted that when the working class realize that they are exploited they would become their own liberators, and thus the liberators of humanity. The extent to which this is possible is very arguable, and indeed futile. Am I advocating for a communist Belize? Undoubtedly, the idea of communism excites me, but cannot satisfy me.

Yet, there is a level of truth, if truth exists, to this frame of thought. It suggests that reality is not as fixed as it appears to be. Reality is a process. It is a process of power relations where dominant ideologies reign. Equally though, it is a reality in which those power relations are changeable. I would like to suggest that our socio-political reality is masked by many faces and protected by many weapons. It is the critique of such ideologies and practices which is the ultimate strategy for a more just and democratic society.

The question is: do Belizean youth have this level of consciousness? Hyde cautiously assumes that young people “know that they have the potential political power in their hands.” I only hope this would be or become the case.

Young people, I also assume, may have some level of knowledge of our socio-political realities. But many times these realities seem detached from our daily existence, leading us to be an uncritical citizenry. At home, some of us still face the pressures of party politics, which makes us believe in the lesser evils of either Blue or Red. At school (especially the lower levels), we are told Belizean democracy is working perfectly right; we get to elect our leaders. All we want is to live comfortably, freely, and enjoyably.

Surrounded by the fanfare of the politricks, it becomes difficult to lift ourselves from conditioned ways of thinking. These are ways of thinking which perpetuate the status quo. The “public sphere” -the space for participatory democracy, is overshadowed, over-scripted with the lines of deceptions from politicians play, sorry I mean -pay.

Blue and Red exist, but have they always existed? And must they continue to exist? What is the thing that we call democracy? Do we need it? Do we want it? And, do we have it? These are the questions that lead us onto a higher level of consciousness and practical levels of action.

Perhaps, this is where the advice by Evan X Hyde for youth to maximize the social media is a positive strategy. I see my comrades trying – but the fish ain’t biting. We are too happy, happily oppressed. We have technologies to amaze us – a cultural industry to entertain us.

Is there more to this Belizean reality? “You young people are the future,” so we’ve been told. Rarely are we told: we are the present. We are the change. We are many. We are powerful. If only – we were consciously united. Consciousness of being versus being conscious….

Rolando Cocom

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