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Let us prepare for the rise of the Phoenix

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Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2020. 9:47 am CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Charles Leslie Jr.: “Whether we remain the ash or become the Phoenix is up to us.”

– Ming-Dao Deng

Sooner than later, as our country begins to figure out how to get the economy going again and move forward, external forces and our own internal instincts and desires will try to convince us to get back to “normal.”

Right now you want that feeling of normalcy, we all want that feeling. We want to hang out with our friends, look forward to the weekend, get back to our jobs.

We want to move as far away and as quickly as possible, from the dreaded feeling of lying in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford to pay our bills, buy food and not lose our minds.

 

We want to jump on Facebook and see funny memes, instead of the endless scroll of human tragedy on our mobile phones. We want to eat some nice, hot Johnny Cake before we head to work.

The need for this comfort is real and it is strong.

Our Government and politicians will do their best to get us back to “normal.” Media houses will entertain us. Beer companies will jump in with big bashments. Clothing boutiques will get us dressed and ready to impress. The telephone and ISP companies will roll out double ups and increased data…

however:

Let us be aware of what is coming, because we as a society, are now vulnerable in a whole new way.

What this trauma has shown us cannot be unseen. Empty beaches in top easter destinations like Placencia and San Pedro. Popular restaurants and bars shuttered. We can barely differentiate weekdays from weekends, now.

Many instances fit for a postcard image of what Belize might be like if we could find a way to have less deadly effect on our nation.

However, what is not fit for a postcard are the other scenes we are all witnessing, and most of us experiencing.

Our healthcare system has significant issues, small (and even some large) businesses running on such a tight bottom line that they have been gutted, and if not completely gutted, had to fire their entire staff…sending 10s of thousands of Belizeans to seek unemployment benefits.

Our Government has been so mismanaged for so long that we are literally running on fumes.

All the problems that we have as a nation have come into sharp focus.

But, this is not news, really. These are problems that we ignore day in day out, not because we are terrible Belizeans, or because we don’t care, but because the vast majority of us don’t have time.

The plain truth is, we as Belizeans are busy. We gotta get up everyday and get on that hustle, trying to make our own lives work, or those bills become monsters, stalking us in the dark. School fees, Courts Belize, a quick loan, mortgage, car loan, credit cards, phone bill, light bill, internet bill, water bill….

…holy crap, I am getting anxiety just thinking about it.

When we get home we flip on Netflix, order Chinese take-out and try to feel just good enough to get up the next day and do it all over again.

It is very easy to close your eyes to problems when you barely have enough time to close them to sleep.

There is a great misconception among us as a people. It causes deep and painful social and political tension every day in Belize. It is played out daily on social media: “How come we allow all these murders to happen?”, “How come we allow so much corruption?”, “When will Belizeans wake up?”…and the list goes on.

That misconception is that we don’t care.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Belizeans do care. We care a lot. We just don’t have the time to do much of anything about it.

Bam! COVID-19 came out of nowhere and kicked us off the hamster wheel. Full stop. You have that feeling…like you missed a step and fell flat on your face: “WTF just happened?“

Please consider this:

Something happened that we can’t explain how incredible it is. This is a great gift we need to unwrap.

No, not the sad deaths. Not starving Belizeans. Not 400+ poor Belizeans jailed. Not the virus…but The Great Break. Belizeans say it all the time: “A need a lee break.” Well, this is a great one. It is profound. Don’t turn your head. It’s a bit scary to look at. But, please try to look at it for what it is.

This COVID-19 crisis has given us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in its raw, unadulterated form. At no other time, in our lifetime, have we; as a people, as an entire nation, along with the rest of the entire planet, gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply…stopped.

Here it is. We are witnessing it in first-person. You can almost hear planet earth breathing a sigh of relief.

We are all grasping, and trying to hold tight to our sanity, because this rarer than rare occasion has brought to light all of the beautiful and painful truths of how…we…are…living…and it feels freaking weird, right? Because your entire Being has never witnessed, and probably will never again, witness such a…Great Break.

If we want to be better people. If we want to create a better country for our kids, if we want to make sure we are sustainable and be truly independent as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay close attention to how we feel right now.

I cannot speak for you, however I imagine many of us are jumping back and forth between calmness, confusion, depression, hopelessness…and all other types of emotions.

This is the perfect time for it to be easy to push us back to becoming “normal” again. And there is nothing evil about that. Politics and the way our system is currently set up has had many benefits. We have many responsible and ethical businesses and politicians that have provided thousands of jobs, lifting thousands out of poverty.

I don’t think there is a villainous plot to wreak havoc and destroy the country and all Belizeans with it.

But…

…its flaws have been laid bare for all of us to see. It simply does not work for every Belizean. It is responsible for great destruction to the lives of far too many Belizeans. There is zero excuse for so much poverty, crime and suffering in this country. NONE.

Our current system creates severe unevenness in distributing its benefits that one man owns more land than the 55,000+ Belizeans living in Belize City…and maybe even more.

And 5 families own more wealth that the rest of us in the 99%.

The intention of our system has been perverted, and the protection it is supposed to offer has disappeared before our very eyes.

Be alert, Belizeans. There will be a great campaign to get us back to “normal”. Many of us will even beg for it, and do anything and believe anything, just so that we can take away how horribly uncomfortable all of this feels.

But, ask yourself:

Did you really not see how many Belizeans who have jobs live paycheck to paycheck?

Did you really not see how many Belizeans live in poverty and are completely dependent on the government to survive?

Did you really not see that if we wanted to deal with crime we could?

Did you really not see that we are expected to survive on $75 a week (50% less than what a regular Belizean working regular hours would make at minimum wage)?

Did you really not see that the utilities we own have benefited us little to none when we needed them the most?

Did you really not see that laws to punish us were quicker to come into action than our $75 a week Economic Relief?

Did you really not see that our medical infrastructure is terribly underprepared?

Did you really not see that our country is basically broke?

Did you really not see terrible inequality?

Did you really not see indifference?

Did you really not see that even during a time of crisis, politics still divided our leaders?

Did you really not hear the least fortunate among us were referred to as “fukas”?

Did you really not see that this system…did not work, is not working?

But, you did. It wasn’t a bad nightmare.

See, when political slogans do not line up with reality for too many of us, it creates confusion, depression, anxiety, hopelessness…which manifests self-destruction, materialism, superficiality, dumbing down of our society, sexualization of everything especially our children, a corrupted and debased type of spirituality.

More and more of our young people are being pushed to live pointless lives, based on the gratification of their lowest impulses.

Big business will join in: “See, you missed Easter, but we are still giving you a bash”. “See you are getting double and triple up”.

Everything will be done to put us back to “normal”. We will see The Great Belizean Return To Normalcy effort and it is going to be fast and furious.

Now, I am not attacking any business, politician, political party, that will be pushing this get-back-to-normal agenda. It will be natural for them to do so.

But, please, I beg of you: think very deep about what you want to put back into your lives. This is our chance to define a new version of “normal”. It is a rare and sacred opportunity to get rid of a lot of BS and to only bring back what works for us, makes our lives richer, our kids happier, makes us truly proud.

We get to Keanu-Reeves-Kung-Fu the crap out of it all.

We do care about each other. That is crystal clear. That can be seen all over Facebook, in every meal we share, in every Whatsapp group sharing information. We are good people. And as good people, we want to define, on our own terms, what Belize looks like in 5, 10, 50, 100 years.

This is our chance to do that. The biggest one we have ever gotten, and probably will ever get.

We can do that on a personal scale:

  • In our homes
  • How we choose to spend time with our family
  • What we watch and listen to
  • What we eat
  • What we spend our money on
  • Where we spend our money

We can do it in our communities, in what organizations we support, what truths we tell, and what events we attend.

Let me ask: how many Belizeans do you think spent the Easter weekend, just sitting at home and spending time with their family, instead of wasting money and getting mindlessly drunk?

We can do it nationally in our government, in which leaders we vote for and to whom we give power.

If we want to really fight crime, we can make it happen.

If we want to really fight poverty, we can make it happen.

If we want a better healthcare system and education system, we can make it happen.

If we want to truly address corruption and jail the corrupt businessmen and politicians, we can make it happen.

If we want our fellow Belizeans to earn a dignified income, we can make that happen. $3.30 per hour should be considered a crime against Belizeans.

And hey, if we want to live a simpler life, like back in the day, we can make that happen, too.

But, only if we resist going back to “normal”.

 

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