By Richard S. Harrison, BSc Pharm, MBA
“Life is a characteristic distinguishing physical entities having signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (death), or because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate.
The first known attempt to classify organisms was conducted by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC), who classified all living organisms known at that time as either a plant or an animal, based mainly on their ability to move.
In most ecosystems, the conditions vary during the day and from one season to the next. To live in most ecosystems, then, organisms must be able to survive a range of conditions, called the “range of tolerance.” Outside that are the “zones of physiological stress”, where the survival and reproduction are possible but not optimal. Beyond these zones are the “zones of intolerance”, where survival and reproduction of that organism is unlikely or impossible. Organisms that have a wide range of tolerance are more widely distributed than organisms with a narrow range of tolerance.” ~ Wikipedia
Each individual calibrates his/her own tolerance meter….and must make decisions for himself regarding range of tolerance. Many have left their homeland on voluntary and involuntary basis…over centuries of history…and will continue to do so for centuries to come….some call them losers…others pioneers…and yet others, revolutionaries.
From my understanding….there are only four reasons why a person would stay in a place:
1. The ecosystem is within their range of tolerance.
2. The range of tolerance is very narrow, and there is strong doubt that survival can be optimal outside the existing ecosystem.
3. The ecosystem is outside or beyond the range of tolerance, but the individual believes that he has it within himself to influence change, while withstanding a reasonable period of physiological stress, which has the potential to bring the ecosystem back into his range of tolerance.
4. The person is “dead” to the realities of the ecosystem, and no longer react to its stimuli.
So….should I stay? Or should I go?
Before you give me your sound advice, first allow me to offer some personal observations and analyses regarding the current Belize ecosystem:
1. The lines between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary have for decades been becoming increasingly blurred…now very near fading away….or already faded. Our democracy and freedom can be at its optimum when these pillars of our National Constitution are independent of each other. When they are one and the same, democracy and freedom is only a figment of imagination that exist in the warped minds of those who hold the reins on the ecosystem….those who believe they are in position to take the reins at some point in the foreseeable future….and those who are “dead”. I cannot imagine that living without democracy and freedom is within my zone of tolerance….because that ends the belief that an individual can influence peaceful and constructive change in any meaningful way, shape or form…especially those who cannot see themselves in the position of….or living under… a dictator…whether in his favor or otherwise. This may or may not be by intent or design….but it certainly proves right the age-old saying that one lie needs a thousand lies to cover it up….and all are aware of the many lies our country has sucked up since Independence. Gradualism and incrementalism….in the right direction…as preached so eloquently by Father of the Nation, Hon. George C. Price in the time of his rise and plateau…and based on actively engaging and listening to the advice he got, through direct interaction, from the simple minds of citizens, businessmen and investors on the ground all over Belize…could have helped us to avoid this wrath.
2. The value of life has been declining for decades….with a more rapid decline over the last decade…and now reaching the point very near to having no value. Can one enjoy freedom? Or be in the pursuit of happiness? Without life? I do not believe that is possible. The state either does not want to….or cannot….provide the safety and security that guarantees its citizens the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Some who are ready to offer up apology for the status quo argue that the ever increasing criminal violence, which has earned us hero status among the rogue states and get-rich-quick schemers in the world, is mostly localized…and that most of the murders are a result of personal beef or deals gone wrong. Then, why do so many businesses, residencies and government offices all over the country spend so much on armed security guards, CCTV and other security measures? Why do so many avoid going to certain areas altogether or to public places after dark? Why do so many violent crimes go unsolved? Why do so many criminals walk out of court as free men? The truth is that you could be honestly working your ass off and minding your own business, and get killed and/or robbed as you close your business for the day or arrive home….anywhere in Belize….whether or not you are economically ‘successful’…but your killer is very highly likely to remain free to kill again….and the trend does not seem to be improving. With every passing day, the value of all life is decreasing here..including the value of the very lives of those who are seeding, cultivating and propagating this reality. This certainly does not have the appearance nor instinctual “gut-feeling” of happening by coincidence, naivity, ignorance nor negligence.
3. The needs, wants and desires of the most of the people of Belize are not being met….even though they are mostly a humble people that can be generally satisfied with relatively little…such as with a steady, stable, honest job that offer fair wages and benefits. Wealth is piling up in fewer hands…mostly of persons, organizations and institutions in position of politically-driven, favorable privileges…and those with unfulfilled needs, wants and desires are getting more and more desperate…and increasingly resorting to thoughts, words and acts of desperation.
The response by governments and institutions have been either pandering and placating hand-out “social” programs and short-term employment ‘stimulus’ through large public-sector infrastructure projects based on loans and deferred payment “credits”….or, in the case of banks, an all out assault against people’s increasing inability to meet their terms and conditions through large scale asset-value eroding foreclosures based on laws written in the colonial days (and still on the books)…a position taken, in my view, because they do not see that our government is willing and able to make the commitment to confidence-building structural changes required to put the current and future economy on a more balanced and stable footing….they see that the only laws, policies and practices changed by the governments of Belize are those that further entrench the status quo…with no honest effort, time and resources allocated to developing and cultivating wide-spread support for a clearly articulated and understood NATIONAL vision, specific objectives, strategy and plan for a new and more progressive economy…even as the unemployed and poverty-stricken has surged in numbers.
Much of the youth, which makes up the largest percentage of the population, are trending in the direction of ‘dead’…..with no substantial leadership of true conviction willing and able to organize and motivate them as active agents for constructive change.
The major political and social organizations…. political parties, unions, business organizations, NGO and civil society….developed themselves since the 1980’s based on big-money and/or narrow special-interest mobilization (when the big-money and/or special interest is achieved, the end-game has been achieved)…and thus have very little knowledge and experience, capacity and capability, and willingness and ability…to mobilize mass popular support in scale and scope that could forge definition of a set of desirable changes with broad consensus…and then take the actions to make them happen….in a reasonable, phased and programmed time frame….outside of the normal 5-year life-cycle of ‘Juan manda Pedro, Pedro manda Juan’.
This apparent void of leadership with the power to organize for change, or lack of trust within their ranks, has been leading to growing cynicism and skepticism…and to fragmentation of potential forces for change who feel outside or unrepresented by the two mass political parties, unions, business organizations and civil society…which, in my view, can only have two strategic outcomes…consolidation of the power of the status quo, who seem to believe they can sacrifice some democracy and freedom to harvest the benefits of the blurred lines…with indifference towards the fact that this creates a more fertile condition for collapse into anarchy.
Are my eyes lying to me?
Please….if you see it…help by pointing out the glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel.
This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.
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