(This column was first published in the Amandala issue of Friday, February 17, 1995)
In the early 1980’s a campaign of terror was instituted against the industrial North, primarily North America (the U.S.A.) and Western Europe by their enemies. The targets, of course, took preventative measures to protect and alleviate the fear endangered in their citizens both at home and abroad.
In Belize the foreign embassies began to set up security systems to ensure the safety of their personnel both at home and at work. Roving security guards, watchmen, communications networks (advent of cellular phones) were all installed. Then it was reported by their press that Ghadafy of Libya had created “hit squads” to execute this dirty work; of course he didn’t say much one way or another.
As a result security was heightened – Belize next? God forbid! The Pope didn’t seem to think so; he paraded in an open vehicle and celebrated Mass on an open altar. Notwithstanding and true to form, the Belizean “haves” followed suit; it became the “in” thing to have high fences, burglar bars, watchmen, high priced watch dogs. The inculcation of and nurturing of fear in the Belizean population had begun, a population all too susceptible.
So today it is no surprise that everybody is afraid of everybody else. In fact one can say that we are governed by a litany of fear.
1. The citizen is careful in his conversation with his neighbor, wary of expressing any opinion critical of “the Government”.
2. He is afraid to talk sensitive issues on the phone (who knows who is listening?).
3. Afraid to give constructive criticism.
4. Afraid that his “due process” has been destroyed “without warrant”.
5. Afraid to walk the streets.
6. Afraid to send his children out.
7. Afraid to open his shop beyond a certain hour.
8. Afraid of the refugees.
9. Afraid of Guatemala.
10. Afraid of AIDS
11. Afraid of the gangs.
12. Afraid of going to hell… which brings to mind an anecdote I read:
The pupil approaches his guru and says to him, “Guru, you are a great teacher.” The guru answers, “Yes, I am.”
Pupil: “What happens after you die?”
Guru: “I don’t know.”
Pupil: “But you are a great prophet.”
Guru: “Yes, but I am not a dead one.”
Afraid…we have been seduced by fear. We have been duped. We have developed a siege mentality. We have become paranoid. The foundation of a police state has been laid, for when fear takes over, there is a paralysis of thought; there is a failure to create and to love.
The skill to develop a nation and its people is destroyed. Control the mind and you control the body…to what end? For whose purpose?
Let’s reverse this mind game and dismantle this institutionalization of fear by remembering the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he assumed the Presidency of the United States and initiated his Bank Reform Act…”The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”