By Senator Elizabeth Bennett
Everything, every single thing we do, every goal we set takes work to accomplish what we desire. At times the work may be tedious, weary, feels and seems never-ending, unpleasant, but the reverse is also true. And in the end, we achieve the desired outcome even if it was jumping on that bike to the grocery store to buy the much needed milk to feed the children. That was WORK that needed to be done so the children would not be hungry. So really, what WORK has been done to stabilize the Belizean people over the past twelve years?
That analysis of WORK would mean the writing of a book fitting for the international best seller. But because Belizeans are smart people, just a review of the last term of office for the UDP, we can see where the WORK was done – ROAD WORK-ROAD CONSTRUCTION! Hence, because the people were neglected of opportunities to self-develop and self-empowerment (aided out of poverty), as a country we now face the grim hard cold reality of the increase in crime and violence in different pockets of society resulting in tragic loss of lives especially to our business owners. We are now left to deal with the band-aid solution by the UDP that of an extended Public State of Emergency for the Southside of Belize City. The extension for two more months was passed yesterday Wednesday August 5th 2020 in the senate. So the residents of the Southside will see the light of day on October 6th, 2020. Apparently this is the only WORK that the UDP can do for our people in an effort to deal with the increasing number of varied crimes.
Yet, when Dr. Louis Zabanah and I presented some solutions on how to address the crime and violence in Belize, the usual rhetoric is heard from the UDP Senators. What did the PUP do to eliminate crime in Belize? The past is something we don’t have control over. Neither can anyone have control of tomorrow. What is of utmost importance is the WORK or NO WORK on the part of the government to create and sustain a society that has ZERO TOLERANCE FOR CRIME.
So rather than just simply pointing fingers to the past, the WORK should have been and still should be the need for social research to identify factors that are impacting.
Some sectors of our society resort to crime as a way of life. Research does show that poverty is a factor. The father or mother that was laid off from his/her job may steal to feed his/her hungry children. Such action is illegal as there are laws against stealing. But others will argue in defence if it’s a first offense and be understanding to the motive of such action with solution as you could have washed cars, you could have wash people clothes, or you should have begged for food… But given the intense financial setbacks in our country long before COVID and even now since COVID struck, desperate people do desperate things. All that mothers or fathers hear is his/her hungry baby crying for food. So it is obvious that one solution would be to create jobs for those unemployed.
But for some sectors of our troubled society also lies in the fact that the UDP did not do the WORK needed to nip the crime situation in its early years of their rule. There was no reason to bargain with gangs, worst yet provide them with salaries at the expense of the state. Those monies should have been used to conduct the needed research and plan educational program to re-condition the minds on public core values such as respect, trust, empathy, etc which has been eroded.
A short literature review is showing that this social strategy has many names, so whether we call it character education, value training, moral education, transmission of cultural values, or socialization it is obvious that Belize’s political leaders need to have the political will to do the WORK to stabilize our country. To my mind it is not an issue to be debated and it must be a high priority if Belize is to prosper and reach its fullest potentials as a developing nation. “People from all walks of life and myriad moral and ethical perspectives seem to agree that the moral fiber of our society has deteriorated (not just on Belize). Growing inequality and poverty, an erosion of family values, a decline in respect for authority, sex and violence on television, and growing gang behavior among youth are examples of such deterioration.
The future will depend, in some measure, on society’s willingness and ability to struggle openly with moral dilemmas and make hard choices. A proper function of social studies education is the provision of opportunities to develop an ethical framework from which decisions may be derived. One characteristic of maturity is the ability to tolerate ambiguity. Appropriate educational experiences should provide early adolescents with the intellectual tools, based on the ethical principles described above, for participating in the ambiguous and complex realities of active and responsible citizenship.” Robert L. Stevens and Michael G. Allen (Teaching Public Values Three Instructional Approaches) University of Georgia Southern University in Stateboro.