Daily Dingleberry 04-18-12 In Light of the Dark

Suicide is not a typical behavioural choice. Human beings have a strong sense self preservation. This is why people find it hard to accept when someone chooses this way of dealing with challenges. A common reaction is to blame the victim. Some act disgusted, calling them weak… crazy…stupid…selfish…misguided…sinner. Others laugh and make fun, snickering and belittling with jokes and sarcasm, and still others, just dismiss it, preferring the deluded false security of denial.

I want to understand all these reactions. And I do, usually. But there comes a time when such ignorance and insensitivity becomes unforgivable. The time is when you have been told differently and appealed to with knowledge and scientific research and still, you persist in perpetuating this type of destructive attitude.

Can we just agree that all behaviour is on a continuum? “Normal” is quite encompassing. Very few behaviours are actually abnormal. No one chooses to be mentally ill. Unfortunately, our bodies and minds are susceptible to breaking down, and like any physical ailment, we must treat our mental ailments. Left unattended, they become unmanageable and debilitating.

Would you leave a sore to fester? Would you let a broken limb heal badly, crippling you for life? Would you not take your insulin? your blood pressure pills?

It’s really simple. We are ruled by chemicals. When there is too much or too little, our brains don’t function well. Our perceptions become warped causing us to make harmful decisions. So, we take medication to correct the imbalance and we seek therapy to re-learn to think and regulate our emotions so that we can make more productive decisions and engage in more effective behaviour. This works for most everyone except for those suffering with the more serious and persistent mentally ill, eg, personality disorders and psychosis.

Like everything else. Get educated. Have some patience and show some humanity. You will need someone to show you just that one day.

Engage. Educate. Encourage. Empower.

Invisible in plain sight by: Aria Lightfoot

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” Mahatma Ghandi

Homelessness is defined in the US laws as a person who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate night time residence; or a temporary night time residence that is a privately or publicly supervised shelter; or any night time residence used as a temporary living accommodation; or a person using an institution providing temporary  residence awaiting institutionalization;  or a person who sleeps in facilities public or private not intended for those purposes.  The places the homeless normally sleeps are the street, cars, buses, trains, public building, parks, bridges, abandoned buildings or substandard buildings battling natural elements, predators and disease.   Homelessness impact the lives of adults and children equally; causes dyfunctional environments for children, increase crime rates,  increase illness and it is a human rights crisis.

There are many reasons cited for homelessness according to the National Coalition for the homeless. It includes, foreclosure, poverty, no work opportunities, no public assistance, lack of housing, declining health, domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness.

Belize City has a major homeless problem. It is a problem that occurs in plain sight  and for many years, a problem that recurs without any permanent solutions.  Some charities exists that provide temporary relief to the homeless, provide meals, limited spaces to sleep and clothing. However with a growing world recession, increases in oil prices, declining opportunities, Belize city, where the problems seem most prevalent, has turned into a city of blight and degradation.

As a Christian nation we are failing to follow the teachings of the Bible that mentions poverty many more times than it mentions homosexuality. It seems that Jesus, Leviticus, Luke, Mathew, Isaiah, Proverbs were crystal clear and adamant on the duty of the Christian to help the poor. Remember that story Jesus told about ignoring him when you ignore a fellow man in need? All the Biblical teachings tell us to act with kindness towards the poor and actively solve their plight.  Additionally, Belize is a signatory to the Declaration of Human Rights for the UN, we are bounded as a society to treat our fellow man with dignity and worth.  Finally, just being a fellow member of the human race we ought to extend a hand, and help solve issues for our fellow human beings, especially in their lowest , most vulnerable and seemingly helpless moments of their lives.

With that said, I must admit that I too am guilty of not adhering to the Bible, human rights convention or fellow humanity arm of extension lecture above.  I recognize my past inability to empathize with the homeless even though the problem is palpable. I have donated money to the homeless effort,  given clothes or otherwise performed the very basic duties, however, I have been rather oblivious to the everyday conditions of the homeless; I have tacitly accepted their condition as a part of societal problem, not my problem approach and maybe cast a judgmental excuse, thinking homelessness is a self made condition.

My first experience with the homeless was through my teacher Mrs. Galvez (Fonseca) at St. John’s College Sixth Form.  We had a group project to interview members of the homeless and present our findings to the class.  It was not the violent Belize City of today and we felt comfortable interviewing homeless people at night to delve into their condition. Many had families,  but also seemed to suffer from mental illness or other conditions such as drug abuse.  One member of our group interviewed a family member who expressed helplessness because of their inability to cure the situation of their loved one. We completed an effective presentation and after the project was over, went back to our normal lives.  I continued along my day avoiding contact or exposure to the homeless. It was not my problem and I did not want to see it.

Just around Christmas time each year  though ,with highlights of  Mary and Joseph seeking an Inn to sleep at night, as she suffers in labour with  Baby Jesus and after being turned away in her most fragile condition,  she is eventually  made to deliver and sleep in a barn with animals. The story must subconsciously affect our sense of duty to provide temporary food and clothes and shelter for the homeless. The goodwill becomes alive with drives and collections that ultimately solves nothing. Once the season is over, we go back to our normal lives, having done our regimented and less involved duty as a Christian or humanitarian with a sense of accomplishment and a boost  in our sense of empowerment knowing that our condition is not as bad after all.

Recently the mayor of Belize City made a revolutionary suggestion and even welcomed ideas to address the homeless situation in Belize City. The idea is revolutionary because I don’t think anyone was thinking about the homeless. Certainly not me. I forgot they even existed, even though they exist in plain sight.  This seems to be the first real attempt by any public official to take on the issues of homelessness. No quicker than the idea was expressed, out of the woodworks jump the “why we should not do it, why it can’t work and why I won’t support it” people,  even though they offer absolutely no alternative solutions of their own.  The argument is that people’s civil rights will be violated and it will become a crime to be homeless. Well technically, homelessness is a crime in Belize and  is not addressed as a plight of the poor in our laws but rather a nuisance.  It it is defined in our laws, exactly how we treat homelessness, as a nuisance we prefer not to see.

I don’t know if many Belizeans are aware that Belize City continues to be rated poorly by tourists. I have had friends who have visited on cruises and were shocked at our level of poverty in Belize City.  Hearing it offends my every being, but many times that is how we are when confronted with the truth. When we become actively blind to poverty and homelessness and have subjectively focused on the good,  an innate guilt exists when someone else points out what we fail to see.  We have allowed our fellow citizens to deteriorate to a level where their lives are treated with less regard than an animal.

My hope is that the dilemma of homelessness will be carried out with as much humanitarian effort as possible. My hope is that we will be able to rehabilitate the homeless into functioning and productive members of society. My hope is that we can can put politics aside and support real solutions. We continue to profess our love for Belize, well loving Belize includes the people who make up the  country of Belize.  We need to uplift our city and become vigilant , active,  solution-seeking,  members ensuring poverty does not become a demeaning human rights crisis.  We are a small nation of very intelligent, caring, capable and resourceful people. We are our own heroes.

Daily Dingleberry 03-18-12 Two Wrongs Nuh Mek a Right

I want to shine the light on some allegations surrounding the elections. Some accuse PUP of getting last minute financial backing from a prominent person based on the results of bogus polls which determined a win. Some accuse UDP standard bearers paying varying amounts from $400 to as little as $12.50 a vote. Some accuse BOTH of soliciting potential supporters by aiding in procuring  residency/citizenship papers for non-citizens from Guatemala, San Salvador, Honduras etc. The only people crying foul however, has been the PUP proponents. While I champion any attempt to ensure the sanctity of our democracy, it irks the crap out of me that that same ardor isn’t demonstrated among the Opposition. If you want to demand justice for wrong doing, you have to be above reproach.

Aye! So, who is telling the truth? Was Mr. Ashcroft‘s yacht really moored somewhere along our coast during the elections? Did Belize City contenders really buy their way into government? And where is the proof in this digital age? You mean, not one cell phone captured an offensive, “hand caught in the cookie jar” moment?????

I am begging the leaders of both parties to do internal investigations so as to address corruption within their ranks. It does not do for either of you to engage in such worthless behaviour. If you know of such wrong doing, it is your duty to us, as the people you serve to correct it. We don’t need bloody revolution. We have laws. Follow them and restore some dignity to our government because frankly, neither party is a model of what one could consider ethical and upstanding.

GET TO WORK BITCHES! Kick those weak links out, put them in jail and protect our interests. Without us, you are nothing and don’t you EVER forget that.