For the individual, it is very easy to have a new beginning: all that is needed is a change of heart. That is, if your heart is in darkness. If your heart is in the light, then you should shine brightly to lead your brethren to the light.
For the state, a new beginning has to start at the top, at the seat of governance in the House of Representatives. They should set the good example for the rest of the nation.
The House has two sides – members of the majority party, called the Government, and members of the minority party, called the Opposition. They are there jointly to serve the best interests of the nation. That is why they bear the title “Honorable.” They are our rulers but also, our servants.
In the House of Representatives, all the members are equal, regardless of their position in the Executive. They have the same rights and privileges. Despite their differences, they should treat each other with high regard and respect. Members should always be referred to as the honorable member of the electoral division he/she represents, or the position held in the Executive, never by the use of personal pronouns. It will help to instill a high regard for the House amongst the populace if, when appropriate, members of your own side are referred to as “my honorable friend” and, of the other side as “the honorable gentleman.” To refer to a member of your own side as your colleague is improper. It would be a good beginning for the whole nation if civility and decorum reigned in the House of Representatives.
To be elected to be a member of the House of Representatives is a great honor that the electors of the electoral division he represents bestow on him, along with their trust and their hopes for their future also, the power to act on their behalf.
When a man or a woman who belongs to a political party is elected to the House of Representatives, he becomes first, a servant of the nation and second, of his constituents. He or she was not elected to serve himself or his party. Their party will be well served if he is an effective servant of the nation.
Government’s primary objective should be to improve the quality of life of its citizens. This will be accomplished if it establishes Peace and Order in society. To go about securing this objective, it has to get its priorities right. The state’s first priority has to be National Security, external and internal. Belize has external security. The international community is collectively committed to come to the aid of small states when their sovereignty is threatened. Our internal security, on the other hand, is in dire straits. The rate of murder has increased every year for the past ten years. There won’t be a new beginning as far as our sense of security is concerned, until there is a reversal of this trend.
The strength of a nation lies in the number of families where children are born and live with and under the care and protection of a mother and a father. A child thrives best when it is born into a family unit which provides for all his needs. He will be strong and healthy in mind and body, grow and develop, and fit to take his place in society as a law-abiding and productive citizen. When public policy exists to promote and support the institution of marriage, there will be an increase in the number of family units, and we will become a more peaceful and productive society.
Nationalism and Patriotism
You can judge the character and moral fibre of a nation by what its citizens are prepared to give and to do in the service of their country and, for its vindication and protection. The ideal is summed up very well by the words of JFK is his famous address to his countrymen: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. We can’t start too early to inculcate this ideal in the minds and hearts of our youth. It could begin with the recitation of an inspiringly worded “Pledge of Allegiance” in our schools. This should be accompanied by having patriotic songs, poetry and other literature as part of the school curriculum. Every citizen should know and appreciate what his country means to him, even without formal instruction. If your country is a democracy, you should learn the value of your rights and freedoms, which no other form of government guarantees.
A polarized society cannot have Peace and Order because, if there is a two-party system, there will be the strong tendency that the members and supporters of the party that lost the last general elections will regard the winning party with ill feeling, distaste, and even hatred. That is what their political leaders want, to keep alive their prospects of victory in the next election.
This trend goes on as governments change, so that after many elections, polarization increases till it becomes engrained in the whole society. An utter waste of valuable energy. What our society needs to understand is that when a political party wins an election and is put in charge of the Executive, the government is neither Red nor Blue: it becomes the nation’s government. Every citizen should want it to succeed in its objectives, because when it succeeds, we succeed. Have no fear that, if you use your best efforts and resources to support the government, it would be assured of winning the next election.
Regardless of its best efforts and that of a populace which understands that the whole nation is in the same ship, governments will have failures, some of them grievous in the eyes of a critical electorate. That is the fate of governments. They cannot satisfy the people during their term of office, especially if the term is five long years.
I think that it is a bad habit for the political party that loses an election to start campaigning as soon as the new government assumes office, and to stir up the people against the government. It is disruptive and non-productive, a waste of valuable energy. It is also harmful to the nation’s future. A law forbidding this type of behavior in the first two years of the new government’s office might have a beneficial effect on the status quo. This would suit the ruling party and not the Opposition, but remember, a change of government is inevitable.
After thirty-one years since Independence, you would think that we would have national unity, at least unity of purpose in achieving national goals. We don’t have the kind of national unity that is devoutly to be wished. And, besides, how can we achieve National Goals, which have never been declared? The only time we seem to have a sense of nationhood is during the September celebrations but, it is all external (on the outside). A sense of nationhood should be an internal thing, to be shown in our behavior all year round. Without a sense of nationhood in the populace, there is no nation.
Concentrate on the Children
A new beginning will not be successful without the children. They are our main resource and our best investment. We have neglected them. That is one of the reasons why we have so much crime. We would not have to bear the scourge of criminal activity if, some two decades ago, some very important members of the Executive had not thought that we could not afford the expenditure on the proposed programs to channel and direct the energies of a segment of our youthful population. They were wrong. Actually what we could not afford, was not to fund those programs. We must not make the same mistake again.
In the end, what will make our country great is our moral fibre. We are a Christian country that declares in our constitution that, we affirm the Supremacy of God. To reflect our commitment, let moral values be taught in our schools. Let religious instruction be given in the public schools, which are non-denominational. The three traditional churches could take it by turn to officiate. We will be a better nation if we remember to take good care of all our children.