Thinking Out Loud
Saturday, February 11, 2017, 16:07
By: Kevin Bernard
In every one of my weekly articles, I try to touch on issues which are important to our nation and our development as a people. Particularly, since Orange Walk is my home and I will never have any other, I try to touch on matters which affect our community, from poverty to the economy to infrastructure to corruption. Unfortunately, Belizeans from our community and from all corners of the country are facing challenging times not of our making. As a people we will have to tighten our collective belt to do our part to attempt to rescue an economy in crisis. I do not apologize for my conviction that we are in this position because of the bad decisions of the government. This UDP administration has been in power since 2008 and we are in the worst era of our young political history.
But political issues aside, there is something else which has been disturbing me for some time, and that is the matter of civic pride. Just the other night I was at the Central Park for an event. I saw a child throw some garbage on the ground and I asked the child to pick it up and throw it in the garbage can which was nearby. Immediately a parent started being verbally abusive, offended that I would dare to presume to ask the child to throw the bit of garbage in the bin and not on the ground. That parent didn’t stop at cursing me. She also did the same thing to the Officer Commanding the Orange Walk Police Station who stood close by.
As the Mayor of Orange Walk Town I was dismayed, disappointed and angered by the entire incident. We work very hard to keep our municipality clean, and Central Park is a source of particular pride for us. Why is it that I should come under attack for simply trying to teach a child to do the right thing…that is, to throw garbage where it belongs and to help to keep our park clean? That park isn’t mine. It belongs to the community, and that means that all of us have a responsibility to preserve it. That is how it should work.
It bothers me because as a people we should all be teaching our children to do the right thing. We should be teaching them the simple concept of civic pride, doing our part for our community so that as they grow up they can realize their roles in our development. I am pretty sure that when people leave Chetumal, they hold on to their garbage until they reach into Belize and then feel quite comfortable throwing it through car and bus windows onto our highways and roadsides. There have been countless clean-up campaigns along our highways, and hours after they are cleaned, the garbage is back. We need to do much better than that as a people.
Apart from the civic pride aspect, there is also the behaviour of the mother which I feel was a terrible example for the child and children around. We as parents need to show the example. Our children look up to us. When they see us do something, they believe that it is the right thing. They believe that it is behaviour that they should emulate. They believe that it is an example they should follow. What this child and those around that day saw was a parent cursing out the Mayor of Orange Walk Town and cursing out a senior Police Officer in public – all over some garbage that was thrown on the ground.
My friends, I know we have serious issues facing us, surely more serious than some garbage on the ground. But those issues start with us as individuals and as responsible members of this community. We have to do the right thing and we have to teach our kids to do the right thing from an early age. We are in this together. Let us build a strong community together, all of us on the same page, and let us do our part to build Belize.
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