Sunday, January 7, 2024
There is a saying that sometimes “out of evil comes good”. It is also said that “hurt people hurt people”, meaning that there is a tendency for people who have suffered great pain and abuse as children to grow up with an inner anger and unhappiness that manifests itself later on with a continuation of the cycle of abuse against others. In that light, there may be some historical explanation for Israeli atrocities being committed due to the painful memories of their holocaust; but what excuse for inhumanity does the USA have? How could the international bastion of democracy, the USA, allow itself to be dragged into a blood-curdling cauldron of hate?
Recently, it has been heartening to note that U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken expressed concern about the ongoing atrocity in Gaza. On his current trip to the Middle East, to try and quell any possible “metastasizing” of the situation following the Israelis’ assassination of “top Hamas official… Saleh al-Arouri on Tuesday, along with six others” (BBC, January 7, 2024), he reportedly conceded that “far too many innocent Palestinian men, women and children have died in the war.” Some would say, not really a war, but more accurately a retaliatory onslaught in a totally one-sided affair.
There is a tendency in our communities, whenever a young man becomes a spectacle in the news for some major crime, that others will ask, who are his parents? What did his parents not do in “bringing him up” that caused him to go in that direction? In every society, there will always be a few individuals who, perhaps due to circumstances not understood, despite the apparent efforts of parents, become subject to bad influences and forces, and decide to take the route of crime. Even in the most primitive societies, unspoiled by all the temptations and distractions of modern “civilization”, there have been cases of individuals who went astray and had to be punished by the other members of the social group. We have read of cases in certain Indigenous cultures where a murderer would be banished from the tribe or clan and his name never mentioned again, perhaps a penalty that some would consider worse than death. But, where there is life, there is hope; and it has been a fundamental principle among so-called “primitive” peoples that life itself is precious, a gift from the Creator, to be cherished. Yet, even in such cultures, there have been incidents of conflict with other groups, and there has been ample evidence of inter-tribal violence. Conflict, it seems, is something that is inevitable within human civilization, just as in the animal kingdom, where the “survival of the fittest” law reigns supreme. But, being the “highest” form of the Creator’s work, many of us humans expect more of ourselves as human beings; unfortunately, there are many who still cling to the mantra of the jungle in 2024 while enjoying the physical comforts and the pleasures to be enjoyed from all the advancements in modern “Western Civilization”.
In our little Jewel, with only a small Defence Force, the way of peace is the only way for us as a nation, in the midst of a raging war on drugs in our region. Our leaders have demonstrated a commitment to maintain our parliamentary democracy; and it is our aspiration to continue trying to make our society peaceful and loving, and to somehow at the personal, community, national and international level, always try to solve differences the “civilized” way, by negotiation, arbitration or litigation, using the battle of ideas on the scales of justice and righteousness, rather than bombs and bullets and other advanced weapons of war that keep our so-called modern world trapped in its most primitive survival state – might over right.
Thankfully, in our region sober heads have intervened against the intimidating strategy of the bigger party in the recent South American territorial controversy. War solves nothing, but means “destruction and loss of lives. War means tears out of some mothers’ eyes, because their sons are gonna fight and lose their lives.” (From “War” by John Jones of Tomorrow’s Children) Where reason and justice prevail, people on both sides can find a way to live in peace, with benefits accruing to both sides in the dispute. It may be an example to the world.
Nevertheless, wherever there is gross injustice being perpetrated upon a people, there will be resistance; the story never changes.
The cane farmers in northern Belize have been convinced for years that they were not receiving fair treatment from ASR/BSI in their sugar dealings; and thus they put up a strong but peaceful resistance. Negotiation has allowed an avoidance of a real explosion, but there are still serious issues to be ironed out. As Peter Tosh sang, if there is no justice, there will be no peace.
What has been happening across the ocean, and making news headlines consistently (except in the U.S.) is a glaring human atrocity, declared by the United Nations Secretary General as a clear case of genocide. The occupying nation, Israel, and its supporters keep pointing to the atrocity of October 7 committed by Hamas “terrorists”; but no mention of the abomination that the Israeli government has been perpetrating upon the Palestinian people for the previous decades. The very unjust inception of the Israeli state in 1948, and the ensuing Israeli apartheid domination of the Palestinian people had to breed resistance; the October 7 explosion was exactly that – resistance with the same brutal tactics of their oppressor. So, it seems, the Israeli solution is to wipe the oppressed Palestinian people off the face of the earth if they don’t want to run across the borders as refugees to other adjacent Arab states. And the world watches.
In little Belize, we ponder the outcome of this situation. Is the 21st century to be marked by brutality over justice and common sense? Will the abomination of apartheid practiced by Israel be allowed to continue and prosper with USA support in 2024, while the struggling Palestine people are decimated by bombs and starvation and disease epidemics (cholera, dysentery, etc.) as their sanitation and health infrastructure are systematically destroyed by Israeli airplane bombings? Will the ICJ rule on this ongoing atrocity being committed by Israeli forces against unarmed civilians, including elders, women and children in Gaza? And what will come of their ruling?
Aside from the USA, one of the staunchest allies of Israel for decades has been the country that claims us, Guatemala. We are both now at the ICJ. Guatemala is presently undergoing its own internal struggle against institutional corruption. And their long-time ally, the USA, wary of the ongoing illegal immigration crisis at its own southern border, is very concerned about the escalating situation that could result if the agitation of the Guatemalan masses for democracy is not respected and their popularly elected leader is not allowed to assume office.
As Belize waits and watches, having declared our total rejection of the Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people, we pray that democracy may prevail and the agents of institutional corruption be put in check in neighboring Guatemala; that things turn out well at the ICJ; and that the new Guatemalan president will see his country’s relationship with Belize as one that involves forging a path of enhanced respect, cooperation and friendliness between our two closely related peoples.