“Liberation theology held the view that Jesus’ teachings imbue followers with a duty to fight for social and economic justice.”
– from an article by Nicole Winfield on pg. 5A, Miami Herald, Mon. Aug. 19, 2004.
There was one point in the New Testament when Jesus Christ was fasting alone in the desert, and Satan came and took Him up on the top of a mountain to show Him the riches and kingdoms of the world. Satan said, all these will be Yours, if, falling down, You will adore me. The story is a classic one, which may actually have more worldly meaning than religious significance.
At the time of Christ, the Jewish people (not to be confused with today’s Israelis) were in a colonial condition, oppressed by the imperial Romans. Leading the Jewish people were various of their upper classes, including a “king,” who were collaborating with the Roman governor in the administration of Judea. According to the prophecies of the Jewish Old Testament, a Messiah from the House of David was supposed to come who would deliver the Jews from subjection.
When Christ, the son of the carpenter, Joseph, and his wife, Mary, emerged as an adult in public life, He began to build a following because of His parables, teachings, and miracles. Christ was a roots kind of guy, and the Jewish people began to speculate that He might be the One, the Messiah.
In their minds, the Jews were looking for an armed warrior, like David, to drive out the Romans. So when the Jewish people realized that Christ was not that, but instead a spiritual leader and counselor, they allowed the Jewish collaborators – Scribes and Pharisees and Sanhedrin and so on, who had felt their leadership threatened by Christ’s rise to fame and popularity, to crucify Him.
It is to be seen today that the Belizean people are a people who are suffering. What we have seen during the time of this newspaper is that there have arisen Belizean leaders who claimed to be champions of the people. Before this newspaper’s time, there were two great leaders, Mr. Price and Mr. Goldson, who clearly rejected Satan’s offer of material wealth. These men did not care for baubles, bangles, and beads, and the Belizean people saw them as more than electoral politicians: we viewed them as spiritual icons. Price and Goldson held out the promise of a Belizean freedom, and an improved condition of life where we enjoyed self-determination and territorial integrity.
The road to freedom, of course, was a hard one, and as time went along those Europeans who had enslaved our ancestors and later colonized us, discovered new techniques to employ in order to subject and exploit us, and people like us. For some reason, we Belizeans, and many subject peoples like us on planet earth, actually believed that the ceremonial end of colonialism – the lowering of the Union Jack, assured the beginning of liberation. We underestimated white supremacy very badly indeed, we celebrated too early, and we went on to embrace leaders whose greed for money has caused them to sacrifice their integrity.
The third millennium leaders of Belize are more focused on their personal bank accounts than on social and economic justice and the upliftment of the Belizean people. It is easier for Belizean politicians to become personally wealthy than for them to lead their people upwards. In satisfying the criteria of the two major political parties for election candidacy, Belizean politicians, many of whom start out with noble ideals and intentions, find out just how powerful the local oligarchy are and just how weak their Belizean people are. After a while, the Belizean politician makes the decision to collaborate with the oligarchy: it is entirely too difficult to fight for the people.
When the Belizean politicians so decide, and this takes place whether they are UDP or PUP, the supporters of that party are yet waving their party flags. When the Belizean politicians sacrifice integrity for power and wealth, they usually make sure those in the party who are close to them get a piece of the pie. After the Belizean politicians pocket their payoffs, however, after they become collaborators with the domestic and international predators they were supposed to control, they watch as those predators exact their pound of flesh from the masses of the Belizean people. The public debt skyrockets; the cost of daily living becomes more oppressive; crime and violence increase. The people, in desperation, begin turning to the “other” party. But integrity in Belize’s politics began fading with the decline of Price and Goldson. Where there is no integrity, there can be no positive change.
This newspaper usually ends its editorials with a call for power to the people. Someone has to educate the Belizean people to the reality that white supremacy is wearing new clothing – the garb of neoliberalism and globalization. But half the Belizean people are not receiving the minimum of education. It is only the educated sector of the Belizean people who even have the reading and comprehension potential to see through white supremacy’s metamorphosis from colonialism to neoliberalism. Too many of our educated sector, however, have been busy seeking Satan’s kingdoms. They crave success, and the third millennium value system in Belize defines success in the language of baubles, bangles, and beads …
The ruling classes have gone largely Satanic, but this Belizean society insists that we are followers of Christ. Something doesn’t make sense here. There is a fundamental contradiction in the Belizean reality. At this newspaper, our understanding of Christ comes from the New Testament. He was definitely not about baubles, bangles, and beads. But, this is what Belize’s success stories are about. And, Belize’s politics is about the sacrifice of integrity for the accumulation of individual possessions. Call it passports; call it rosewood; call it corruption. It doesn’t smell so good.