Posted: Saturday, August 3, 2019. 3:20 pm CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Hugh O’Brien: On 1st August 2019, Part I of 2 articles am writing reflecting on the state of affairs of ‘black’ people as we celebrate emancipation, was posted and shared on Breaking Belize News.
Part I focused primarily on our mental state, showing us where we came from, and where we are as ‘black’ people in Belize. Part I concluded that the leaders of the UDP or the PUP, whether black, arab or spanish are not the solution…in fact, they have become part of the problem. In their own selfish way these leaders continue to promote dependency, political tribalism and deep down are content that we are a poor dependent people, one that they can easily buy with some groceries and a few dollars.
Do we want to remain where we are? If not, then now it is time to talk about where we will go and how we can get there. In Part II of my emancipation day reflections presents a 5 point personal plan for getting us out of “mental slavery” and ‘dependency’.
Personal Action No. 1
Personal action number 1 requires that we study and understand our true history. Let us find out where we came from, who we are and where we are today. This involves going into our history, understanding how we ended up here in Belize and what has happened to us as a people along the way.
It is important that we understand the greatness of our forefathers, as slavery and colonialism are not the only part of our history. Our history is filled with great civilizations, temples, great inventors, writers, physicist, farmers and others. It is also important to understand the negative influences that slavery and colonialism has had on our mindset. Slavery and colonialism is the primary reason why our ‘black’ population tends to avoid working the land and do not appreciate the value of land and property. In fact, the phrase ‘nobody wa work me like wa slave’ is so common in our minds, because even now we seem to still equate hard work to slavery.
Personal Action No. 2
Second, let us clear our minds by focusing on forgiveness. As we study our history, we will find out things that we like and things that we don’t like. We cannot move forward with hatred for those who have contributed to the misery of our parents and forefathers, and so, as the Bible says, we must forgive and move on. We must destroy the hatred from within…if we continue to nourish hatred, it destroys our fairness and sanctity, and becomes self-destructive. The more hatred we have, the more we keep back our growth and our ability to move on in life.
Personal Action No. 3
Third, let us take responsibility for our lives from today. After we have forgiven those who contributed to how we are, we then have to take responsibility for our actions and for our lives thereafter. The time has come to stop blaming the white man, the government, our parents or someone else for who we are or who we will become. Somewhere after maturity, we have to say that I am now in charge, and from now on I will decide what I will do, and where I want to go. In so doing I will take responsibility for my life from now on. In psychology this is called reaching the point of self-actualization.
A young Belizean from Cayo who was studying in Cuba did an analysis of the various cultures in Belize, and found out that in the most advanced cultures, individuals in that culture looked first within themselves to solve problems, then to the family, then the community, then to the Government and last to the international community. Those cultures or people who were least advanced looked to the international community and the Government first to solve their problems, and looked last at their own selves when searching for solutions. Where you look to solve your problems tells a lot about whether you come from an advanced culture or not.
Personal Action No. 4
Fourth, let us change ourselves first before trying to change others. As individuals we have little control over how other people behave, but we have total control over how we behave. Change then has to come first from within. We cannot overcome the challenge by trying to change others while at the same time unwilling to change ourselves. Once we change ourselves, the seeds of change are planted and after it spreads, others will change and eventually those around us will change as well. The principles and values that we want in society are best transmitted when they are practiced first by us. If we are always on time, hard working and dedicated, then a culture of timeliness and productivity will develop in those around us. If we are honest, trustworthy and refuse the temptation of lying and stealing, then a culture of trust and integrity will develop in our surroundings.
Personal Action No. 5
Fifth, let us believe firmly in the slang that says YES WE CAN and LET’S GET MOVING. See yourselves not as you are, but as what you can become. Get rid of doubt, fear, failure, disappointment, discouragement, dishonesty and hate as they are the downward steps of a ladder to low self-esteem. Focus instead on the positives and hang around positive people so that you can begin to have faith and believe that you can do it. Faith leads to love, then trust, and within love and trust, courage develops, later growing into enthusiasm, followed by honesty and accountability, and in the end a strong and unbeatable sense of self-confidence emerges.
Once you have reached and achieved Personal Action No. 5 it is difficult for anyone to tell you that you are not capable. You will have the right attitude to education and will not be afraid of the criticisms that you are studying too hard. You will not be afraid to do physical work, as you will not be ashamed that someone will say to you ‘deh di work yu like wa slave’. You will not be afraid of having a family, as you will no longer need to have sex with all the girls to prove that you are a man. You will no longer need to grudge, as you will be grateful for what you have. If you aspire for anything else, you will know how to work and get it. And you will no longer need to go out and demand respect, as respect will come to you by the way you behave, and your life will be an example for others.
As you emancipate, eventually you will transform into a very positive minded person. You will derive their energy from dreaming and building. For you the sky will become the limit, and your eyes will see beyond the horizon. You will learn from your mistakes, anticipate the consequences and express true wisdom. You will move away from negative-mindedness. You will not derive your energy from complaining, arguing, dividing and creating conflict as you will be truly emancipated.
Belize is in dire need of more emancipated people who are positive-minded people, who are dreamers and builders. We need more emancipated people who are afraid to enter the open world and join hands with the constructors and developers. Your transformation, even if it occurs alone, will go a long way in overcoming the challenges we face as a nation.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that division, destruction and dependency have much of their roots in the early origins of slavery and to some extent colonialism. When we transform away from these evils, improve our self worth and strengthen our love for others, then, and only then, can we claim true emancipation and independence.
It is only then can we say that we would have broken the chains of mental slavery and can move forward as one people.
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