By: Kevin Bernard
As I sit here in Town Hall writing this, I am filled with different emotions. That’s usually the case at Christmas time. This is the time when we reflect and remember, make plans and goals and hold on to what is important in life.
I remember, with some sadness, my friend Carl Meggs. He was a real family man and he loved Christmas. There was no greater joy for him than hanging out with his friends, talking politics, with Flor and Marquez always close by. Those were happy times, and my friend is very much missed. He was my political mentor, and always advised me to push forward. He would be so excited today to be a part of my dream of very soon representing the people of Orange Walk East.
I will never forget, as I think about my friend Carl, a post by one of his friends shortly after he got the news that Carl had died so unexpectedly. It was a simple post, just advising us to hold on to family. As it was to Carl, family is everything to me.
Today, as I prepare to celebrate another Christmas in my own home with my beautiful wife and daughter, I reflect on growing up, and on my parents. They may never understand the extent of my love for them, or my gratitude for all they taught me, and even more for the example they showed me. It was a home filled with love, but also with discipline. There was always a sense of family, and of family values. My parents struggled so I could be where I am today, so that I could get an education. They taught me to work hard, and to always reach for excellence. They taught me about honesty and integrity. They taught me that a man’s word is his bond. It is because of them that I am where I am today, and I owe everything I am to them.
Because of all they did for me, I am able to do the same for my own family. My daughter is being raised in a home filled with love, and even from a very young age she is being taught the values I learned as a child. Already, she understands that she must love her mother and father, value and respect us, and trust us to guide her in the right direction. Like I did, she will grow up in a home with parents who will protect and support her throughout her life. And that is priceless.
I think all these things, because there is so much tragedy in Belize today. There is so much loss and grieving. We are on pace to break the record for murders set in 2012. What I found incredible this year was the amount of persons reported missing – many of them still not found. Imagine how many families will never be the same, and how many homes will never be the same.
I believe, firmly, that it all starts at home. The family structure is the single most important thing to a child growing up. That is where the seeds are planted, and depending on how that seed is nurtured, it will either produce a beautiful flower or rotten fruit. It seems that more and more, we are losing this sense of family. There are so many broken homes in Belize – single mothers struggling to raise children, or children left in the care of guardians or grandparents or aunts and uncles. In so many cases those children drop out of school and take to the streets. They join gangs, or pursue easy money and survival through criminal means, and the problem just seems to be getting worse and worse.
We need to get back that family structure. We need to bring up our children the right way, and teach them the right things to do. And we can’t only teach them the right things to do – we need to show them the right things to do, like my parents showed me. We need to show them the value of hard work, good work, and commitment. We need to instill in them that pride and love for each other and for our community and country. We need to let them know they are loved and cherished.
We are running out of time. This has to happen now.
From my family to yours this Christmas – we wish you every love, peace and joy.