Author: Janus for Amandala

The National Interest is the Highest Interest and the Common Good is the Greatest Good. This is not a slogan. It is unreservedly, incontestably, and incontrovertibly, a fact. It is a fact that bears repeating over and over again, until every man, woman and child in Belize understands and accepts that this is so. Until this is understood and accepted by all, there can be no hope that we will ever become the nation we want it to be.

The question is, who decides what is in the National Interest? To be absolutely sure whether or not a proposed course of action should be pursued in the National Interest, the matter would have to be put to a referendum. Or, if there was an issue of national importance whether we should come down on one side or the other of the question, it should be resolved in the same way.

That is what we would have to do if we didn’t have a government of citizens, elected and empowered to make decisions and take action in our name. Since we do have a government, the desirability of having issues decided by referenda will be a rare occurrence. So. Who decides what is in the National Interest? It has to be our government.

At this point, I would like you to recall the opening statement and to ask this question: Can the National Interest and the Common Good ever be in conflict? I take the liberty that you will agree with me that they can’t. On this assumption, is it conceivable that a court of law can, if appealed to, rule that a decision taken by the Government in the National Interest should not stand? Apparently it can and, in fact, a particular court has. I thought it was inconceivable.

If the National Interest and the Common Good never conflict, how then can a court of law decide a case in favor of a teacher against an educational institution, and ministered by a religious body, based on an individual right? Her individual right had, in the court’s opinion, more weight than the institution’s raison d’ętre, which is the spiritual guidance of its student body.

The institution had made a rule that female teachers could not remain in post if they became pregnant while unmarried. The teacher was informed of the rule on her employment but, the court decided that she was discriminated against because of her gender. She does have a right not to be discriminated against, which is undoubtedly a good but, the important question which the court did not consider is whether that right outweighed the “good” of the religious educational institution and its student body, present and future. Consider that the “good” of the institution and its student body is also National Interest.

Acting in the National Interest, the Government of Belize made a law empowering it to take over the public service utility company, Belize Telemedia Ltd. As our legal system requires, the Bill for an act presented to Parliament for enactment contains a statement of the reasons for and objectives the Act intended to achieve. The law was challenged in court by the holder of majority shares in BTL, on the ground that it was unconstitutional, unsuccessfully in the Belize Supreme Court but, successfully on appeal to a higher court. If you read the tortuous reasoning by which the learned jurists of the appellate court arrived at their judgment, as I have not, you may be persuaded of the luminosity of their mind, as I am not.

All I will say is that they could not have had a high regard for our National Interest and Common Good, as they should have. Now, could they have taken into account the harm they have caused the good citizens of Belize?

Now our National Interest and Common Good are being threatened again. This time by some of our citizens who have chosen a lifestyle of which the majority of Belizeans disapprove. They would like to be accepted by society. Many citizens are sympathetic, taking the view that homosexuals are not so by choice. Attitudes toward homosexuals have improved. Even those with strong religious convictions are prepared to interact with homosexuals on the basis of our common humanity. But, we are not prepared for our way of life to be threatened and, that is what the lawsuit which seeks to revoke the law forbidding sexual relations against the order of nature, will accomplish. You cannot make what is unnatural, natural, or the abnormal, normal.

Let me end with this admonition. We are right about our good fortune in living in a democracy where our rights and freedoms are enshrined in our Constitution. Our individual rights are very precious to us, as they should be. But, the individual is helpless without his family and, his family needs to be part of a community which relies on civil society and the nation state. So, in the end, our best hope lies in the National Interest and the Common Good.