If there is a job to be done, and one man can’t do it. What should he do? Find another man of like purpose to help him. Then if the job is too big, add a third, and so on, until their combined efforts are more than enough for the task at hand.
The same for a group, or an organization or a community. Make alliances with other groups, organizations, and communities until they become an overwhelming force to take a fortress or destroy a citadel, if those were their objectives.
I am writing this article as a consequence of a conversation I had with a young man, the son of a great friend, who made major contributions to this society. His son is cut from his same cloth and has the potential to emulate his father. I am moved because he thinks that there are too many ills which beset the body politic. I am moved because he considers that the situation in our country is hopeless.
It should be for the citizens of my generation, who shouldn’t expect to be around, if things ever change enough to please us, not for the younger generations. These generations have a job to do.
Is the situation hopeless? How can we know that it is? Only if we do everything that we can to change it and fail. Here is an example of what I mean.
During World War II, the Germans were getting ready to launch a major offensive so, Hitler called in his munitions chief, Albert Speer. “I would like you to produce 15,000,000 rounds of ammunition in two weeks, Speer said “at present the maximum incapacity of our factories is 9,000,000 rounds but, Hitler was adamant, “15,000,000 rounds is the target.” Speer returned after a week and informed the Fuhrer in detail of all he had down to increase production and the best he could do was 11,000,000 rounds of ammunition. Hitler’s response was, “Speer, you have to produce fifteen million rounds of ammunition by the deadline, not one round less. The success of our offensive depends on it.” Speer demanded a herculean effort from the munitions factories management, workers and himself and by the time he was to report to his Fuhrer, they had produced thirteen mission rounds, 4,000,000 more than the maximum capacity of the factories. Speer expected the worst when he met with Hitler because the Fuhrer did not tolerate failure. He was surprised when Hitler’s response was not irate but cordial. “You see, Speer,” the Fuhrer said,” If I had let you, you would have produced only eleven million rounds.” This story shows that the individual doesn’t know how much he can accomplish, until he is put to the test.
My young man probably saw all that was wrong with the status quo and said to himself, “the government, the most powerful force for change in society can’t do the job.” No government can. Some have tried but not hard enough. This government is trying. How successfully? You decide.
Two of the most serious problems which affect our society today are corruption and crime. Corruption
There is too much corruption in our political leadership and the public service. How much is too much. Any corruption is too much. Our objective should be to eliminate it. Corruption is costing us a lot of money. We can’t afford it. If we were to put a value on the actual cost of corruption we would see that we can’t afford it. Plus, corruption stifles productivity. It frustrates entrepreneurship. It adversely affects morale. It puts a high premium on honesty. It enriches a few at the expense of the many. A way or ways have to be found to stamp out corruption. Crime
There is too much crime in Belize, particularly crimes against the individual’s person and property, and especially against the individual’s Right to Life. There are too many murders. How much is too many? One murder is too many if the murderer is not made to pay the price.
We know from studies and from our own observation that crime is a form of social disorder and that there are many contributing factors which conduce to a climate of criminality. It should be possible for the government to deal decisively with criminals (starting with murderers), but the problem will persist because for every active criminal, there may be two that are on the road and, on the verge, of taking their places or adding to their number. Therefore, a comprehensive, many-pronged approach plan might be the way to go, in the long term. However, we live in the short term, especially those that live in areas of Belize City where normal life expectancy is not assured.
The average citizen believes that the government has the power to reduce the murder rate by 50% in six months’ time, if it had the political will. He believes that the government can do whatever is necessary to impose discipline and order in the society. Is he wrong?
I don’t think the government lacks the political will. There is something lacking, or else, these problems would have been solved long ago. Is it possible that government is unsure of its power? Perhaps, perhaps. But, there is something else. I think the government is unsure of public support if it were to undertake measures that might be considered drastic. There is a saying which applies to this situation: “You can’t make an omelet, without breaking eggs.”
I believe that whatever action the government takes to deal with corruption and crime which are in the public interest and for the common good, should be valid. I think it should be established as a judicial principle that actions taken by the government in the public interest and for the common good are valid, unless they are in conflict with another and superior judicial principle.
Government has the power to eliminate completely, corruption in the political directorate and the public service and, to reduce the crime rate, especially murder, in six months’ time but, it does not seem to be aware of its capabilities. They will know if and when they are put to the test. We have to put them to the test. It is the same with government as with the individual.
There is a way to get government to take the kind of action which will succeed in accomplishing the desired objectives. It will be a kind of test of our national resolve. We have to come together and make it our Common Cause to demand that our government fulfills their first duty to the people: that our political leaders conduct themselves honorably, and the lives of citizens and what they own are protected.
What if the leaders of the business community, non-government organizations, the trade unions, sporting associations, educational institutions, civil society, and the churches would make a unified demand that the two objectives proposed be achieved by a certain date, or they would withdraw their support for the government? This to mean, not that citizens would not continue to pay taxes and obey the law but, that they had lost confidence in the government to serve their best interest. Amandala