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On the side of peace

EditorialOn the side of peace

Sunday, November 12, 2023

If you have started reading this editorial, my advice to you is to stop right now and go do something more constructive with your time, unless you are prepared to accept as a reality, the premise upon which I hereby propose to engage your attention in the next few lines. Let’s go our separate ways in friendship quickly, if we can thus prevent unnecessary hurt feelings and even anger to arise, which is not good for anyone’s health and well-being; and that is certainly not worth the endeavor to travel these next few paragraphs with me.

It’s an increasingly small world, due to the age of instant mass communication and the global network of trade, so we cannot presume to be living in any sort of vacuum; and it is in our interest as Belizeans to see peace in the world. Whenever there is conflict or war, it seems to affect the cost of trade, and prices tend to rise for us here in Belize, which means harder times, especially for the many near and below the poverty line. While little Belize may not be able to do anything to stop whatever trouble is brewing or developing in the outside world, it certainly would help us to prepare ourselves from a personal and national level, if we could understand what is going on, and what to expect, and perhaps even how best our nation could navigate the international diplomatic arena to try and reduce the negative impact upon our people of these serious world events taking place.

Are you still with me? Is that a reasonable premise upon which to proceed with this effort: self-preservation in the short and long term being the primary objective for us as Belizeans?

Let’s see if we agree on a few other things before we go any further. Belize is generally considered a God-fearing nation, meaning that the vast majority of Belizeans adhere to the belief system of one religion or another, be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelical, Bah’ai, Buddhism, Maya or Garifuna spirituality, etc., etc., all giving respect and praise to an Almighty Creator of this earth and universe, whose power to create none of us can claim. There are a few who refuse to acknowledge the idea of a Most High, and that is their right to express their gratitude in their own way; because what acknowledging the existence of the Most High is all about, is just giving thanks for life and this wonderful creation that we have found in place, but that none of us can begin to conceive of how it could have been done. But that is not even important here, the fact that there are those, the atheists, the agnostics, unbelievers, etc. It is just important to realize and acknowledge that there are people on this planet and in various nations that have different views on religion and life in general, different cultures, different histories, differences in many ways. And that’s cool. We can all still live together in peace.

We’re talking in general terms, if you are still there, which I trust you are, if you want to be fair and reasonable in our discourse. Before going any further, be reminded that you are welcome, as always, to pen your thoughts and have the conviction to share with our readers, so that your ideas may withstand the scrutiny of others, and thus be of benefit to all our people. This is about us, all of us, and not about winning an argument; we’re trying to build understanding and a clearer perspective on the craziness that seems to be enveloping nations and regions of the world, and that can, and is already having an impact upon us in our little corner of the globe.

So, religion or not, we all want peace in this world. But we also want justice; or do we? The great Jamaican artist/philosopher Peter Tosh sang, “Everybody is crying out for peace; no one is crying out for justice… I don’t need no peace; I man need equal rights and justice.”

Bam! We have an obstacle. Or do we? I want justice too. Do you? Stay with me, then. We both want justice. And we both like peace.

Question. What is, in your opinion, the greatest obstacle to peace? Peter Tosh thinks it is lack of justice. I agree with him from my limited life observations. Do you? When there is no justice, often the aggrieved person feels justified in seeking justice his own way; unfortunately, two wrongs don’t make a right. And there we go; murderer walks, murderer killed, and the cycle of violence escalates. An old saying said, “crime doesn’t pay;” but in an ineffective justice system, as has developed over a few decades in Belize, where the conviction rate is abysmally low, would-be criminals are emboldened, because there is no “justice” to be handed down, and in their minds, “crime pays.” Fortunately, since the inception of trial by judge for murder, some convictions have been coming in for murder cases. We’ll see what impact this has in the future.

But we’re looking at a bigger picture. And we wish we could start at the very beginning, like in My Fair Lady, with “doe, a deer, a female deer;” but we can’t go back that far in time, because we simply don’t have the space. So, we have to choose a good cutoff point. If you choose the October 7 Hamas massacre of 1,400 innocent Israeli citizens, including children, I suggest you are being unfair and unhelpful. And I will now explain why.

When there is cruel and extreme violence inflicted upon one party by another, that is not the time and place to see and understand the source of the problem. Despite the sometimes escapist rhetoric of officials, there really is no point in describing a murder as being “for no apparent reason.” The scientists say that, to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

We don’t claim to be any experts here, and this Gaza thing is a whole can of worms that will take a whole lot of explaining and understanding. As simply as we can understand it, the British promised the Jews a homeland for their new state, inside a territory which was for centuries already majority populated by Palestinian Arabs. But in ancient Biblical times, the land they now call Israel, was indeed inhabited by the Jews in a country known as Israel. They promised the Jews in 1917 during World War I, and after World War II, when Jews had already flocked by the thousands to the area, but were still a minority to the Arabs, the establishment of the new state of Israel, which was declared in 1948; and all hell broke loose. And it’s been conflict and wars ever since in the so-called Middle East.

The British, and later the Americans, had/have their geo-political-economic strategies at work in the region, but the bottom line has remained: the Palestinian Arabs are aggrieved, and feel betrayed, and that they were dealt a massive injustice. Terrorist organizations like Hamas have sprung up among the Arabs, just like there were a couple terrorist Zionist organizations pushing for the British fulfillment of their promise of Israeli statehood.

Peculiarly, in Belize, we know what the British and Americans were trying to maneuver our leaders into with Guatemala. They took from 1917 to 1948 to see their objective achieved with the state of Israel, against the wishes and agitation of the Palestinians who still seek their own state. No justice, no peace in the Middle East.

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