Guest Speaker Address at Julian Cho Technical High School Cultural Day
November 18, 2013
Good morning; the Principal Dr. Simeon Coc, the Vice Principal of Academics Dr. Kent Leo Arzu, the Vice Principal Students’ Services Mr. Winston Lopez, Heads of Departments, The teachers’ Representative, Teachers, Students, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I am humbled to be invited as the guest speaker for this important celebration of our unity, as we all make progress under the guidance of God and the spirit of our ancestors. I was a teacher at this school before I was given the responsibility to be the nation’s Ombudsman and the first one out of Toledo. Please do not get me wrong my brothers and sisters, the emphasis here is actually on Toledo which I proudly represent on the national stage. I believe that my behaviours reflect on the whole perception of this beautiful place we call home. Our districts and of course our country are bigger than any one of us as an individual.
We are gathered here today to celebrate our cultures. I feel proud to see students and teachers resplendent in their cultural outfits. The school has done a good job of choosing a befitting theme for this year’s cultural day which is’ Let us progress in unity with God’s goodness and the protection of our ancestors’. This theme is loaded with a lot of meaning and I intend to explore the wisdom within it. Unity is strength. Why is unity so powerful? The power of unity is found in its meaning. Unity in one word means oneness or togetherness. Unity is a word so powerful it connotes the fact of individuals or groups coming together to form something greater than our selves. The beauty of unity is the fact that it is usually built around a common purpose; a harmony of interests or values (e.g culture) that create a shared identity. When people are united by shared values and goals, they can move together, synchronizing their efforts to obtain things that none (by him/herself) could attain alone. Such is the power of unity. This means that we find success in unity as said by Henry Ford and I quote ‘Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress. Working together is success’. To attain success the unity that we prefer must be inclusive. It must free us from the divisiveness of prejudice. (Garifuna Settlement Day has allowed all of us to celebrate all of our cultures today).
We must see our commonality without devaluing our differences. A sense of unity must transcend our fear of each other. In unity the joy of one is the joy of all, and the hurt of one is the hurt of all, the honour of one is the honour of all.
As we celebrate the cultural day in honour of the Garifuna Settlement Day, we must remember that in doing so we honour Marcus Canul the great Maya ancestral leader, Chief Joseph Chatuyer, the great Garifuna leader, the ancestors of the Creoles, Mestizos, East Indians, the Europeans, Chinese and other ethnic groups that make up this beautiful country of ours.
My message today is for us to use this occasion to love one another and cherish our commonality rather than dwell on our differences. Outside of Belize you are simply recognized as a Belizean. If you do well, you raise the name of the country to a lofty height, and on the other hand, if you do the opposite they will also mention the name of this country. We must strive to help one another, human beings are like that. We want to live by celebrating each other’s happiness—not by rejoicing at each other’s misery. In this world there is room for everyone. We must learn to help each other up and not put each other down. All of us can pull to succeed together. Let us learn from the Chinese. Remember this does not necessarily mean that all of us will have uniform opinion. Mahatma Gandhi said and I quote ‘For unity to be real it must stand the severest strain without breaking.’
When the Garifuna gain the whole of Belize gains, when the Maya gain the whole of Belize gain, when the Creole gain, the whole of Belize gain, when the Mestizo gain the whole of Belize gain, and so forth ….
“I believe in the essential unity of all that lives. Therefore, I believe that if one person gains spiritually, the whole world gains, and that if one person falls, the whole world falls to that extent.” Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
On this day of celebration I wish you all peace, love and happiness today and always. ‘Let us progress in unity with God’s goodness and the protection of our ancestors.’