Responsibility: It’s such a heavy word. It’s also one of the many words we’ve come to categorize as optional. Look around you, and see how many people surrounding you shirk responsibility.

    The young single parent who prefers to stay out all night partying, while Mom and Dad stay at home worrying over the child they really shouldn’t be taking care of. What about the parent that skipped out? Or the parents who are together yet find themselves worrying about appearances over the welfare of their child? I know of a parent who spends most of her time in boutiques all over the island, picking up new clothing in each store, while her husband works like a dog, day and night to come up with money to feed her need to shop. What’s the case now? Their children are clothes hounds, having grown up with the mentality that everything they wanted, they got. Imagine real life hitting them soon – and realizing that things cost money. Maybe they’ll never learn, because Daddy will be working himself to the grave to ensure all appearances remain the same.

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    What about the employee who decides not to follow through, lying to cover up missteps, and ultimately placing burdens on the employer and coworkers? The responsible employer would ensure that the person in question wouldn’t be around to continue placing burdens on everyone else. Otherwise, the employer is just as responsible for the mistakes as the doer.

    What about the politician who stands before god and sundry, pledging to fulfill duties to the best of their abilities? In Belize, we all seem to have forgotten that people are in power because we put them there, and that even though there is a title attached to that person’s name, it does not mean it’s not the same person who once begged for your vote. Do we not all have a responsibility to ourselves to ensure that we move forward?

    In the upcoming heat of politics, grievances will be aired, mud will be flung around, names will be called, shortcomings and faults will be brought to light. At the end of the day, it goes back to the home situation. From responsibility learned at home, to work, to the rest of our lives, what we are taught is what we do. With the current rate of teenage pregnancy (a first sign of irresponsibility on all angles), to the uneducated fools who refuse to learn at the very least the basics of their political foundation, to the educated who prey on the ignorant, we are slowly losing ourselves, digging our own proverbial graves.

    With so few educating themselves about the environmental concerns that are plaguing our society, to those who employ two masks to ensure a secure future for themselves, this jewel is looking more like gilt. And in the end, gilt is only a facade. It is our responsibility to question the actions of ALL who claim to have our best interests at heart. Taking a stance without polling the very people who have put one in power is irresponsible. When a parent makes a decision for a child, they have to be responsible in that their decision will not alter the child’s future to where it is unmanageable. The same can be said for our town leaders. Deciding to throw money at useless projects, making like things cost more than they really do, while lining their pockets and building and aggrandizing themselves – and in our face – well, that’s not really responsible is it?

    But what can be done? The first thing that one would say is not to vote the person (or party) back in. How does that make a difference? What if the contesting party is full of thieves, associate themselves with thieves, or have been knowingly accused of the same? It’s like the old Belizean saying, “Changing a black dog for a monkey.” It may as well be the same.

    Tracing back the politics of this very young nation, it has pretty much all been the same. One man had the vision to bring Belize forward, and giving up his dreams of priesthood to lead his nation under the banner of a people’s party, he brought about our first taste of the real deal politics. He felt the responsibility to ensure his people would move forward. He is alive, and watching the very party he founded falter and trip over itself, greed and ambition having wormed itself in the hearts of the very people who are meant to carry on one man’s humble legacy. To add to the spice mix, another party hungrily watched from the side, wanting its very own slice of the pie. The longer they watched, the bigger the slice they wanted. In the end, that party has hogged the entire pie, while its people sit at the foot of the table waiting for the odd crumb to fall.

    The situation is not as drastic as Egypt, but for a small nation as ours, it may well be. Inspired by a group of individuals who clamored long and hard enough for a change, watching change happen before our very eyes: there had to have been some spark ignited in a few responsible ones. By the same token, there are those who say one thing, then carry on the age-old tradition of being party loyalists.

    This year, my nation and I turn 30. It’s time to learn and apply the definition of responsibility. The time for apathy and ambivalence is over – it’s time to own up to ourselves, and to secure our future. We have that much responsibility – to ourselves.

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