Heritage vs. ‘Independence’
Taking Pride but Wanting Better

October 1st, 2013
by Catherine Flowers

[private]I am a first-generation US citizen. My parents moved to the US from Roatan when I was four. But I bleed blue and white.

When I was growing up, Belize was called British Honduras. We referred to Americans as “yankees” instead of “gringos.” I didn’t actually understand color and race. It wasn’t included on birth certificates. In the US, I hated being called “the Honduran girl,” and I couldn’t appreciate why my parents would give up living in paradise for what seemed like an evil place. But as they say, youth is wasted on the young.

Decades later I still bleed blue and white. But as we mark the 192nd year of Honduran  independence, I’m not sure what we are celebrating. The national slogan is: “Free, Sovereign and Independent.” A definition of “free” is “not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes.” The Republic of Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. How many of its people do you think feel “free” when they can’t buy groceries or when transplants come to believe that paying a laborer Lps. 500 or less a day is acceptable? In fact, in our poor country, most people are enslaved, not free.

Considering most of our countrymen are not genuinely free, then are we really a sovereign country? From what I hear about the Honduran political landscape, our politicians are beholden to others on so many levels. If we are beholden, are we really independent?

As we commemorate Honduras’s independence, what should we celebrate, and where should we go from here? I suggest the following three premises:

1. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Diversity is a strength, and although we are a country of poor people, we should do justice by defending those with the least economic and social power. By strengthening the parts, we can create a greater whole.

2. It’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men.  We used to say “it takes a village to raise a child.” Now we seem to think “all it takes is another child to raise a child.” We think they can raise themselves. Adults must be held accountable for the children they bring into the world, and children need to know that they matter most. We need to advocate for and invest in our children.

3. Support the home team. There are lots of reasons to support local businesses. But the most important one is that, according to Independent Business, in an increasingly homogenized world, “communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.”

More than a million Hondurans have left the country for greener pastures. In some respect they’ve left a void and created a brain drain. You can’t keep claiming you are on the team if you just sit on the sidelines.

If it were up to me, we would be celebrating not the independence of Honduras but the independence of the Bay Islands from Honduras. But we lack the visionary leadership for that. In the meantime, all those who bleed blue and white from afar should consider celebrating by investing in the communities where they or their families grew up.

Regardless of where one’s moral compass points, we all have a responsibility to leave the place where we are better than it was before we got there. Let’s create a real reason to celebrate![/private]

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