The business of nationhood is a rough game as small nation states are under constant pressure by those who wish to exploit both their people and their natural resources. It is my thesis, therefore, that if Belize is to survive as a nation state it will have to do so on a foundation of courage and discipline.
In 1776 when the colonists in Boston, Massachusetts could no longer bear the yoke of Mother England they decided to fight back. That decision required both courage and discipline because in 1776, Great Britain was considered a true superpower. Between the time of the Boston Tea Party and the start of the American Revolution, the colonists had to develop and maintain the courage to seek their independence. Britain was not going to make it easy, so they also had to develop the discipline to stay the course, even when things seemed all but lost. It is upon this foundation of courage and discipline that the mighty USA now stands.
It has been 33 years since Belize’s independence, an independence “won” without bloodshed or any great sacrifice, for that matter. The result has been a timid and ill-disciplined people. It is not my intention to insult the Belizean people: I simply have no other words to describe our post-independence conduct.
My assertion is that, if we were a courageous people, the Guatemalans would not have been able to bully us in the Chiquibul.
If we were a courageous people, Penner would not be collecting taxpayers’ money after his massive disrespect and betrayal of the Belizean people: he would be in jail, where he rightfully belongs.
If we were a courageous people, our politicians would not be able to “mismanage” public funds with impunity.
If we were a courageous people, the Stake Bank Project, led by a Belizean, would not be on hold even as foreigners proceed full speed ahead with their own cruise port.
If we were a courageous people, ASR would not have been able to use the Government of Belize to subjugate the cañeros.
And if we were a courageous people, the Petrocaribe loan motion would never have been tabled, let alone passed, in the House of Representatives.
Our problem seems to lie in the fact that courage almost always requires sacrifice. And sacrifice requires discipline!
If we wish to be frank, we will agree that the Belizean economy, despite what our officials say, is in a precarious position. The structural adjustments that are urgently needed will most definitely cause us some pain. It would mean sacrifice, and as I said before, sacrifice requires discipline.
Our politicians know that we do not like to make sacrifices; they know that we are ill disciplined and so Petrocaribe “rolled” for Christmas, it “rolled” in Cayo North, it “rolled” March 4 and it will keep rolling until it rolls over our children!
If we were a disciplined people, we would use the Petrocaribe loan to improve and subsidize the public transportation system, so that our people don’t have to be spending 16-27% of their salaries getting to and from work.
If we were a disciplined people, we would pay our own mortgages and not depend on the government to pay it for us. If we were a disciplined people, we would not have turned our country into a giant garbage dump.
If we were a disciplined people, we would have made the sacrifices necessary to improve the Crooked Tree causeway so that our children do not have to lose their lives simply trying to get to school.
If we were a disciplined people, we would not have corrupted our democratic process by exchanging our votes for cheap, short-term favors at the expense of our children.
The unvarnished truth is that nationhood requires sacrifices. Belizeans, it appears, do not like to make sacrifices; the result has been a weak and fragmented nation. History teaches us that weak and fragmented nations become easy prey. The unlawful detention of thirty-seven patriotic Belizeans by the Guatemalans a few weeks ago, should bring this into sharp focus.
Let me be clear. Without courage and discipline, ours has been a hollow independence; just the way Mother England intended and just the way the oligarchs want it.
And so, sadly, 2015 continues just as 2014 ended. No courage! No discipline!
Major Lloyd Jones