Why I Live Where I Do

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind

~ Bertrand Russell


I’m often asked, as if my personal life is anybody’s business, why I live in western Belize. After all, life has persisted longer near the poles than near the equator during the two previous Mass Extinction Events resulting from planetary warming. I must be a hypocrite if I choose to live in subtropical Central America at 17 degrees north latitude.

Or perhaps the typical critic of my personal life is applying misinformed judgment to my situation. Maybe my decisions are rooted in love, rather than in extending my run on the planet. And it could be that this human-induced extinction event — likely the only one for which global dimming will play a substantive role — is unlike its five predecessors on Earth.

What, you ask, has love got to do with it? As I’ve already noted in this space, I love being out of the country of my birth, the United (sic) States of America. There’s more, too.

I love life. Contrary to Russell’s quote about the suffering of (hu)mankind, my pity extends to non-human organisms. Immersion into the stunning biological diversity in Central America is worth the trip. There’s more, too.

I love living, as opposed to spending my time making a living. I find that the majority of the sweet, tough people in Belize have similar views. More than 50 years in the country of my birth indicates most people living there have an obsession for fiat currency. Life is for living, not chasing colored pieces of paper and digits in one’s bank account. There’s more, too.

I was enchanted with the agrarian anarchism of Belize I read about before initially visiting the country in 2006. As with every other place on Earth, the situation has worsened considerably during the last dozen years. The horrors of disaster capitalism leave few places untouched. Still, Belize lags behind the global race to the bottom with respect to contemporary infrastructure, including the production and distribution of food. There’s more, too.

As I pointed out in this space in January of 2017, I’m not particularly motivated by material riches. Early last year I denied the importance of money and sex as primary forces underlying my move. I still do, even though I’m willing to admit these two factors have inspired many, and perhaps most, decisions by men throughout history. Still, the women with whom I spend most of my time these days are not wealthy. I’m not strongly motivated by money, as is clear from my voluntarily opting out of a high-pay, no-work tenured faculty position at the apex of American Empire nearly nine years ago. That decision, as with most of the others in my adult life, was rooted in principle. Were I driven to accumulate material possessions, I would have made different choices about how and with whom I live.

In summary, I have been driven by simple but overwhelmingly strong passions, as with Bertrand Russell: the longing for love that afflicts us all, the search for knowledge that underscores the work of all scholars, and unbearable pity for the unnecessary suffering of organisms on Earth.