Constructive anger shall only subside when there is justice for all
Ravi Dev will never be allowed to define matters of import to me nor the cause I represent, even more so when his mantra is divisive and perpetuates bigotry which threatens this nation’s peaceful-coexistence and equitable development.
Reference is made to his column “Anger and Violence” KN July 8, 2012. His claim that a friend psychologist, specialising in anger management informs him that I am a “very angry man” after reading my letter, “Don’t expect silence or compliance on my part, Mr. Dev. Not now, not ever!” (KN 30/6/2012) does no credit to the field or Dev is lying. But if it is to be believed this couch conversation took place, it evidently concentrated on placating Dev’s ego and ignored the letter’s content. For any psychologist worth his/her salt would admit anger is not necessarily bad and can be functional.
As such, Dev is advised the slaves’ anger toward the indignity and inequity meted out to them by the enslavers resulted in fights which realised emancipation. It was anger with the marginalisation and denial of fundamental rights that caused the indentured and colonised to fight the colonisers, bringing an end to indentureship and securing political independence. It was anger over the cruelty of man towards man that led to the formation of the International Labour Organisation in 1919 after World War I; and the United Nations in 1948 after World War II. It was anger that led to the USA African Civil Rights Struggles for racial equality that achieved the Civil Rights, Voting Rights, and Fair Housing Laws; and desegregation in the public sphere.
The trade union community, from Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow to now, in its quest for the creation of a just society, would advise anger about the disrespect for fundamental rights, and the exploitations of labour in the workplace, coupled with the deprivations of workers in the wider society, led to the struggles which secured an eight-hour work day, national minimum wage, increased earnings and improved working conditions, universal adult suffrage, just laws, political independence, NIS, universal education, Landlord Tenant Act, etc.
Similar anger led to the 1948 sugar workers strike, 1999 public servants strike and 2009 bauxite workers strike, etc. Committed trade unionists continue the fight to ensure, protect and widen these gains, along with advancing contemporary socio-economic and political wellbeing.
This is called Constructive Anger – I identify and emulate!
Dev is reminded he benefitted and continues to benefit from these periods of anger that made the world a better place for him, loved ones and friends. The present and future generations across the diverse spectrum are equally entitled! And as we look around the society today given the continued injustices, fronted by Dev’s and Guyana Chronicle’s bigoted writings and executed by the administration, the anger with these are justified. Their refusal to uphold the tenets that would bring an end to injustices must propel each and every one of us to stand up and be counted.
We owe it to ourselves, our forebears and our descendants. Any effort to deny this moral/righteous indignation must be resisted! Eliminating the anger that festers in this society requires respecting international conventions and laws, universal declarations and the Guyana Constitution that enshrined the principle that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Further, Dev’s take on violence denies the presence of violence in every group. The World Health Organisation defines violence as “The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”
As such there is no justifiable explanation for his singular claim that, “In addition to the nurtured tradition of revolt, African socialisation patterns pre-dispose them into aggressive habits and frustrating situations elicit aggressive responses, even against authority figures, i.e. there is a normative support for violence in the African community.”
If Dev were not interested in racial dominance he’d speak out against intra and inter group(s) atrocities. For a rights advocate is expected to have abiding interest in eliminating injustice within his group and by his own group to another, equally as he strives to ensure respect by other group (s) for his group.
In the realm of rights, the principles are universal, clearly defined, and cut across diversity. Consequently, any writing to advance racial harmony is expected to uphold the universal principles this nation is a party to and are enshrined in our Constitution, which Dev is contemptuous of.
It is this disrespect for another group and their right to peaceful co-existence and equitable development in this society that led me in 2009 to call him racist (that he recalls in his instant column) and same still stand in 2012, because he has not deviated. Also, attempts to front such bigotry behind ‘professional counselling’ and reference to thinkers/philosophers will not faze, fool or impress.
Finally, discourses on rights, the rule of law and governance must be frank and open about the problems facing the society and recognising the prerequisite for addressing same and ensuring resolutions requires adherence to universal tenets. On my part, constructive anger remains present and shall only subside when there is justice for all!