By Thamar Jones
“…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, A tale of two Cities.
Ah this quote. I first heard it as a student in Standard 4. And even at the tender age 10, I understood all too well its meaning but today as a 20 something year old, I’m living the tale.
This famous excerpt, taken from the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities, suggests an age of radical opposites taking place across the English Channel, in France and the United Kingdom respectively. It tells a story of contrasts and comparisons between London and Paris during the French revolution.
And while in this context it compares life in one country with another, this is an apt phrase to be used in the context of Belize today; a place and time where, on the one hand, the rich are enjoying luxurious lives; while on the other hand, the poor are struggling under the yoke of economic decline.
The statistics, figures and projected recession which were once only markings on paper are now getting real on the ground and people are feeling the effects.
A trip to my local supermarket this weekend woke me up to that fact. A pack of sliced whole wheat bread for $4.90. The tiniest head of lettuce which are the only ones I buy to avoid spoilage: $6.08.
How are these meager paychecks suppose to stretch from payday to payday. Will there be days I go hungry? What if things continue to worsen?
For the first time in a long time I feel poor…. not just poor in possessions but poor in spirit. The feeling of lack and a sense of foreboding prevails. This must be what the great depression felt like. A feeling of fear, uncertainty and doom resulting from the effects of an economic meltdown.
But like The Tale of two cities, is there an equal and opposite reality being experienced by some?
There are at least 30 men and women whom we know, that are being paid nearly 10 thousand dollars monthly, from the public purse, in salaries and allowances. They have no bills because somehow unlike the rest of us, their salary is not expected to cover their personal expenses. No. They get additional financial allowances to cover those.
Then there are the successful doctors, attorneys and business men and women who earn enough to cover their needs, their wants, and then some. They don’t live in fear of their revenue streams drying up.
And this is not an attack on the haves or the “have-nots”. I believe that save for thieves and con artists, for the most part, people are compensated in proportion to the value of what they contribute to their society.
This is merely to remind you… and me, that whatever you are experiencing is not the only reality to be experienced in a particular time and place. The life you prefer to live exists. And others right here and now are living it.
So you get to decide will this be the best or the worst of times for you? Will you wise up…or be foolish? Believe or live faithlessly? Live in love and light? Or desperation and sorrow?
Which city will you live in?
By Thamar Jones