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The Spirit of Carnival

LettersThe Spirit of Carnival

Monday, October 2, 2023

Dear Editor, 

During this Carnival season, my mom would inquire about my thoughts, trying to affirm her own, about the different mass camp outfits. After having no answers for the first few harassing sessions, an epiphany came to me: my criterion is that they are as revealing as possible. Sure, I like looking at the women, but that’s my criterion because it’s symbolic of the celebration as a whole. From what I’ve observed throughout my adolescence — I can’t speak of a time before that — unbridled sexual immodesty is the spirit that has come to represent Carnival, younger camps excluded, of course. Sure, that can be fun, but it trades the riches of love for the poverty of lust. 

My mother brought a great counterclaim to my statement—that people are having fun; it doesn’t affect their ability to love or receive love. While on a surface level that may seem true, that betrays my vision of love, and through telling you that vision, I hope to see that it also fails yours. 

For example, a man who loves his family will work tirelessly on their behalf; a person who loves their community will give a large portion of their free time to serving that community; and a leader who loves his country will work tirelessly towards a brighter future. Granted, these are examples of love at its most radically virtuous, but it is also where love is most apparent. This type of love is a pouring or emptying of the self, or as Saint Thomas Aquinas would say, “To love means to will the good of the other as other.”

Here is where we can see where the Carnival fails; it is not that sex and sexuality are inherently negative; it’s that modern displays of sexuality, which focus on my happiness and my satisfaction, are selfish and self-serving because it does not correctly view sex as an act of love, which is a giving of the self to another. It displays an “I leave as soon as this is not fun for me” approach to love. This attitude is prevalent, from the selfish attitudes of leaders toward governance to the greedy-destructive love of parents, which tears apart Belizean homes. 

I’d want to conclude by saying that there is nothing inherently wrong with the Carnival, and I am sure that great people participate every year. But my final response to my mom is that we lose the language of selfless, self-sacrificing love when we see sex and sexuality as a way to have fun. And to the reader, I’d implore you to find some place where love is lacking and to put it there yourself.

P.D. Herbert

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