The UN Report
Before I get to my main point I take this opportunity to denote how our psychological wiring and thought process often times have us inaccurately prioritizing issues that affect our lives: The Availability Heuristic says that we will react to what is most available to us and easy for us to mentally process/digest. In this case, I am speaking about the fact that Belize has been branded by the United Nations as the third most ‘dangerous’ country in the world due to our murder rate per 100,000 people, and how we reacted to it.
We must also take into consideration our Arbitrary Coherence, which says that once we get something established in our minds, that ’something’ will shape how we react and mentally process it today and in the future. Buzz words such as murder, dangerous, violence make the UN report, Coherent, it sends us in a frenzy, we get emotional, we get mad, we feel ashamed of the accolade…and the media feeds this frenzy, since often times the media naturally gravitate towards stories due to their Availability Heuristics.
Let’s look at some facts. Do you know what the top ten causes of death of Belizeans are
1. Diabetes Mellitus
2. Coronary Heart Disease
3. Road Traffic Accidents
7. Influenza & Pneumonia
9. Other Injuries
10. Liver Disease
When we hear the word ‘violence,’ we think of stabbings, beatings, shootings. That’s behavioral violence. What we don’t hear about is inequality and how it is killing us. It’s like an odorless, colorless, highly toxic gas that we’re just not aware of.
Meta-analysis are now finding that the main causes of deaths worldwide stems from inequality, now more popularly being referred to as Structural Violence – which is a form of violence where some social structure or social institution may harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. It kills us from the usual diseases: Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure. It’s the structure of our society, the gap between the rich and the poor, that creates the inequality that kills us from all the usual diseases.
As a Belizean you are statistically susceptible to 7 other ways you are more likely to die before an act of behavioral violence. And these 7 other ways are directly linked to our health. We have a serious health problem in Belize, and there is not enough public education, outcry and mitigation.
I implore the media and remind them that they are a very important tool and have a very important role in our society when it comes to educating and properly informing the People. I also implore the Government to prioritize attention and allocation of resources towards the health system and thus the
health of Belizeans.
Structural violence kills far more people than the behavioral variety. That’s what we need to change.
Winston Churchill once said, “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any nation can have.”
Yours In Service,
Charles Leslie Jr.