By Charles Leslie Jr.:In 1982 a documentary by the name of “The Killing of America” was produced, and promptly banned from mass public consumption. The documentary pointed out, that leading up to 1982; America was the only industrialized country with a high murder rate comparative to countries that were going through a civil war, such as Cambodia and Nicaragua. America had an attempted murder every 3 minutes and a murder victim every 20 minutes. With a combined population similar to America at that time; Japan, England and West Germany had only 6,000 murders per year…America had 27,000. The documentary stated that in the 80 years of this century, America has had more than 1,000,000 murders. More than all her fatalities in all her wars. Bodies and more bodies, all day…everyday. Guns and more guns.
In the years leading up to 1982 when the documentary was produced, it is important to point out some of the men who have tried to unite America under a banner of peace, economic equality and justice for all:
JFK – Shot dead.
Robert Kennedy – Shot dead.
Martin Luther King – Shot dead.
John Lennon – Shot dead.
A few weeks after JFK assassination the murder rate in America skyrocketed. tripled in just 10 years. A new breed of killer emerged. They didn’t want money, sex or revenge. It was the senseless killings of random strangers.
Wikipedia stated that “Gun violence in the United States results in thousands of deaths and injuries annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, firearms were used in 84,258 nonfatal injuries (26.65 per 100,000 U.S. citizens) and 11,208 deaths by homicide (3.5 per 100,000), 21,175 by suicide with a firearm, 505 deaths due to accidental discharge of a firearm, and 281 deaths due to firearms-use with “undetermined intent” for a total of 33,169 deaths related to firearms (excluding firearm deaths due to legal intervention). For 2014 there were 12,587 homicides by gun violence and 2015 saw 13,386.”
In 1966, 18 year old Robert Smith, a high school honor roll student in Arizona, walked into a beauty school and for no apparent reason shot dead, two women. When he was interrogated and asked why he did what he did, he said, “I wanted to get known, to make a name for myself”. In 1979, Brenda Spencer, a great student from a San Diego High school, decided that she would use the gun that she got for her birthday, to shoot children that were walking to the elementary school near her home. She shot dead the janitor and the principal who came to help the children. When the authorities asked her why she did what she did, she calmly replied “because Mondays are always so boring.”
Post Independent Belize, Our Bipartisan Political Doctrine, the Importation of the American Value System and our subsequent Value System Disorder
The Belize political system, which has been ruled via bipartisanship of the People’s United Party (PUP – current opposition) and the United Democratic party (UDP – current party in power), have been successful in obscuring the vast wealth of Belize and also successfully conditioning you, the Belizean people, to acutely under-estimate your individual and collective value and the value of the wealth of your nation of Belize, and thus creating an innate Value System Disorder.
Peter Joseph, the creator of the famous 3-part Zeitgeist documentary series, explains Value System Disorder as – “like cancer is, in part, an immune system disorder, sociological traditions which persist with ever-increasing problem generation for society, could be called a value system disorder. This disorder has to do with a kind of structured psychology where certain assumptions have been given credence over time based merely on their cultural persistence, coupled with an inherent reinforcement of itself in operation. The larger the social context of the disorder, often the more difficult its resolution, not to mention the difficulty of its mere recognition itself.”
This Value System Disorder has played a significant role in the erosion of the family unit in Belize, and thus affecting the most vulnerable and valuable resource we have – our young people.
Due to the perpetual cycle of political victimization, corruption, cronyism, greed and lack of equitable distribution of our resources, we have lost a significant percentage of the most intelligent Belizeans whom have gone to other countries, and using their intellectual resources to build up those countries. This system has also suppressed many Belizeans who have stayed behind but do not blindly support the monolithic bipartisan established political doctrine. How have this affected our young people? Due to the flight and suppression of our brain power; this has created a negative socio economic externality such as an increased broken family units, spurting a wave of mostly single mothers and young people who are incapable of fulfilling their true potential (social justice). This has severely affected our young people’s happiness and ‘life satisfaction.’
With the wholesale importation of the American consumerism and Ayn Rands objectivism (self-interest) in the late 80s, which whetted the material appetite of the vast majority of Belizeans, coupled with banks being given free rein to regulate themselves, thus indulging in predatory lending and usury; many Belizeans began to accumulate material possessions and at the same time becoming debt slaves. Many Belizean families used their children’s future as collateral. In the 80s the PUP implemented Keynesian economics and incurred large debts. The politicians realized that they could become millionaires and used the future of us all as collateral…and still do.
These were significant contributing factors for further strain on the family unit. Financial stress began to take its toll. Belizeans started to sell valuable properties, especially beach front, for pennies on the dollar. More fathers abandoned their families because they were emasculated and ashamed by the fact that they could not provide for their families. Grandparents and guardians became proxy parents, thus the care and attention needed by the children were significantly depreciated. Television and deportees from America, who brought with them a criminal mind, became influential in penetrating the malleable minds of young people, and gangs rapidly spread in Belize City and now across the country, copy-catting the American Crips and Bloods, a direct result of the growing inequality. The public policies have only exacerbated this situation for the policies have mostly failed to create the proper nurturing and conducive environment to capture all this young, vibrant energy and channel it into building young people, and thus building Belize. The initiatives that are currently in place are dealing with the symptom, not the source of the problems – economic inequality.
The Systems of Control & the Rape of Belize
The Belizean people have been systematically divided via political and class warfare. This has been done by a few Belizean families that have been a part of creating the system of division, mainly via the control of the monolithic bipartisan political doctrine. These people have become superlatively rich via the control of our political system and ultimately the government. While Belizeans were distracted, these people started using the control of the government to gift themselves, for example, large acreages of valuable land which they paid little to acquire and became land speculators which made them very wealthy, while the vast majority of Belizeans found it difficult to own land, and could only get a piece of land via favors by your friendly neighborhood area representative, which became a powerful political control mechanism of the Belizean people.
In our current social order, thought has become indistinguishable from propaganda – Just listen to certain morning shows controlled by either of the two political parties. Only one doctrine is speakable, and the caste of its experts prescribes the necessities and obligations to all…Social consciousness is incarcerated within the role of a kind of ceremonial logic, operating entirely within the received framework of an exhaustively prescribed regulatory apparatus protecting the privileges of the privileged. Methodical censorship triumphs in the guise of scholarly rigor, and the only room left for searching thought becomes the game of competing rationalizations. Take note of the recent attack on Plus TV by the political status quo trying to silence free speech, truth and a call for transparency and accountability of the people’s resources.
Such reactions – the self-preservation of the current system – are also common with respect to people who speak against the current system and point out workable and doable alternatives. However they have been shunned, rejected and ridiculed. This reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs or paradigms, has only contributed to the socioeconomic decay we now see, which have spread to all corners of Belize.
Once a given set of ideas is entrusted by a large enough number of people, it becomes an “institution”- and once that institution is made dominant in some way, such as existing for a certain period of time, that institution could then be considered an “establishment”. The “Institutional establishments” of the PUDP are simply social traditions given the illusion of permanence and the longer they persist, often the stronger the defense of their right to exist by the majority of culture.
If we examine the political institutional establishment of the PUDP, we must remind ourselves that it is not actually real in the physical sense. These are temporal structures we have created to serve our purposes given conditions at certain points in time and no matter how much we emotionally attach to such issues; no matter how large an institution may become; no matter how many people may believe in such institutions – they are still impositions of thought and transient by nature.
The socioeconomic decay, which is a direct result of the political doctrine of the past 34 years, manifests, every day, all day, for the majority of Belizeans, in the form misery, pain, suffering, sorrow and bodily and mental destruction. Only a handful of people are trying to unmask the regime that condemns many Belizeans to the atrocities of poverty and its insidious offspring called poor healthcare, poor education and insecurity of life and limb.
The context here of the value system disorder, the institutional establishment of the PUDP, while arguably being deeply decoupled from physical reality and a root source of the vast majority of the social woes in Belize today, keeps itself in place through a set of culturallyreinforced values and power establishments upon which the society is ultimately conditioned and generally inclined to defend. This is made increasingly powerful in its persuasion since the dominant value system disorder at hand today is born out of assumptions relating to critical human survival itself – Christmas Cheer, Mother’s Day Cheer, bus ride to Corozal with free food and drinks, will literally increase the quality of life on a very short-term basis for the recipient Belizeans, whom, on a normal daily basis are just surviving, however this is merely another form of control.
The Correlation of Inequality, Poverty, the Media and the Rise of Senseless Killings
In 2013 French economist Thomas Piketty wrote a book called “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”. In this book Piketty pointed out that when the rate of return on capital (r) is greater than the rate of economic growth (g) over the long term, the result is a concentration of wealth into the hands of the few. This inequality of wealth causes social and economic instability.
In Belize, over the past 34 years, 4,000,000,000 + dollars have been borrowed by the government and spent into the Belizean economy, yet 50% of Belizeans are still living below the poverty line. As I have pointed out, a small number of families in Belize have become extremely wealthy over the course of those 34 years. They were able to benefit from political spoils and channel most of those easy profits into their bank accounts, onshore and offshore, which made their rate of return on that capital (r) greater than the rate of economic growth for the majority of Belizeans over those 34 years. This translated into less and less opportunities for most Belizeans to realize social justice and upward mobility. This capital that has been stolen from the Belizean people has been used to control our political system, which controls the government who makes policies that control the economic system and thus the people of Belize. Greed has infected the wealthy elite and thus perpetuating the use of the Belizean people – you, your kids, your family – as collateral to borrow more and more international loans to get even more wealthy via corruption and cronyism, while more and more Belizeans slip below the poverty line, because the wealth is not been shared equitably – one small group gaining at the expense of the rest of us.
Meta-analysis has proven without a doubt, that wealth inequality is the root cause of poverty, and poverty breeds social decay due to destitution and hopelessness, which is underpinned by structural violence. Since poverty, in its simplest definition is the scarcity of life sustaining resources, these factors create a social environment where survival becomes the main priority. When resources are scarce, violence becomes commonplace, since someone will have to gain access and control of those resources at the expense of another. This was not necessarily a problem in Belize leading up to the early 90s, since Belize did not yet experience severe value system disorder. In the 90s, when American consumerism took root, there was a shift in the Belizean mentality where it became less clear what was a ‘want’ and what was a ‘need.’ The criminal element became flashy with their material possessions, and the criminal political element became overnight millionaires which attracted the greedy and corrupt to our political system, most of whom had no problem selling out their nation to special interest groups for personal gain. This process pushed a lot of young people to become involved in criminal activities, especially the illicit drug trade. Street fights graduated to gun fights, and now, with a weak judicial system as a contributing factor, senseless shootings and killings.
One of the most tragic and sensational mass shooting (senseless killings) was the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, USA, where 20 year old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members. After this shooting, like the Mainstream Media always does, a newspaper printed detailed information about the killer and his methods. This is protocol for MSM in the USA and Belize. However if you pay close attention, you will notice that the MSM rarely report on suicides, particularly teen suicides, and when it does, it is covered very carefully, the report is understated and dampened.
There is a reason for this: The Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Mental Health developed guidelines, which the media carefully and voluntarily follows to avoid sensationalizing these deaths, especially young people. These deaths almost never make the news unless the person has some sort of high social status. Methods of suicide are rarely mentioned and suicide pacts are not reported upon at all.
Suicides, especially by teens, are contagious. Research has shown that it is an attractive idea that offers an established path of action for a troubled teen. Research in many fields shows that establishing a path of action – a completed guide in which one can visualize their steps and their effects – creates an enabling mental follow-through catalyst. When someone have a full story in their head, that person is more likely to enact it, step by step. This effect is especially strong in the impressionable adolescence and young adult mind, and at that age, mental health is turbulent.
As in the United States, Belize’s media have increased their use of availability cascades, which is – the more something is repeated, such as murders – the more it stirs up mass frenzy and criminals seeing that one criminal is getting their 15 minute of fame, stirs up other criminals to copy cat, which this vicious cycle has been playing out for the better part of 2 decades in Belize. The media has, over the years, increased the details they cover, especially on murders, and other heinous crimes. Such detailed coverage normally increases the inherent power of the criminal. Most Belizeans to this day know of Junie Balls and Itza, just to name a few. Sociologists are starting to find that this sensational and detailed report on these types of crime may be creating a vicious copycat cycle, similar to those found in teen and other suicides.
Belize has a murder rate of 44.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, which puts us as the 4th most murderous country in the world, just 3 places behind Honduras, which has a shocking murder rate of 90.4 per 100,000 inhabitants. With easy access to illegal guns and ammunition on the streets of Belize, the attractiveness of becoming a famous criminal, with one’s name and face plastered all over TV and in newspapers, and now on the internet that is viewed all over the world by millions; Belize is now entering the era of mass shootings (senseless killings) such as the incident that has been reported on the three teenagers who were shot on Newton Barracks on February 14, a day of love, and the multitude of other senseless shootings that plaster our TV screens and hold front page newspaper positions, on a weekly basis.
It is time for the Government of Belize start working with the media houses to contemplate a voluntary adherence to the guidelines developed by the CDC and NIMH. It is also time for the Belizean people to demand such initiatives, for the senseless shootings and killings will not slow down anytime soon. In 34 years, Belizean families have buried far too many bodies, with far too many loved ones left behind in shock and grief, and a permanent rip in the societal fabric of the Jewel called Belize. The Jewel we call home.
How Can We Improve? Equitable Distribution of our Resources
The biggest lie ever told to the Belizean people, is that Belize is a poor, third world nation. The second biggest lie ever told to the Belizean people, is that we as Belizean do not deserve better, and this is the best we can do.
Belize Is Rich:
The first thing you need to do: You need to realize that your nation of Belize is one of the richest nations on the planet. When it comes to resources per Belizean, there are enough resources available to make sure that every Belizean man, woman and child lives a comfortable lifestyle, having access to all the healthy life sustaining resources they need. When politicians get on TV and say that “we are a poor nation” and we “have to be practical” yet they are millionaires, that is the only thing you need to know to realize that they are lying to you.
You Deserve Better:
The second thing you need to do: You must believe that you deserve better. You cannot wake up every day living in destitution and desperation or seeing your fellow Belizeans living in such circumstances, and believe that is just the way it is. That is utter nonsense. Every single Belizean has the ability to be able to constructively and positively contribute to the growth of this nation, once the conducive environment is created to allow them to fulfill social justice and upward mobility. When you come to the conclusion that you deserve better, you will start to demand better, you will start to be a part of making Belize better. I must stress, that you must believe that you AND your fellow Belizean deserve better, not just yourself. The more people benefit from the resources of our nation, the less social decay our society will experience, and eventually we will see a reversal; a healing of our nation, our society and the most important factor of all, our family unit.
In conclusion, those who are entrusted by the people to form the government must know that they become the guardians of the people and the people’s resources, they become the captain of the proverbial ship called the nation state of Belize, and if you truly want to build a nation you must focus all energies on creating a conducive environment that build people, on merit, and those people will then go out and create the ideas, innovations and businesses that will generate the value-added products and services that will be sold on the local and international market and thus generating profits for further growth of their businesses and the taxes paid into the system, which will fund the majority of the social and structural projects necessary to benefit all the people, and reducing the risk of having your citizenry become debt slaves. We cannot continue to allow the future to be robbed from one generation to the next by a handful of greedy, corrupt politicians, their families and their cronies, at the cost of everyone else.
[The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Breaking Belize News].
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