Our new citizens should be healers and peacemakers

January 22, 2013 | By | Filed Under Letters 

Dear Editor,
The recent issue arising out of an alleged assault upon a female child by a Chinese business couple highlights an open and seeping sore that infects the body of our nation.
And despite the fact that it is visible to anyone who cares to look, those charged with nursing and attending the national body choose to ignore it, and in fact, openly seem to be contributing to the widening of the fissure.
The Constitution of Guyana does not place any individual or group below or above others in its dispensations. In this context, it behooves those of us who with eyes wide open pay attention to what goes on in Guyana, to analyze, document and give public expression when the symptoms attendant to the ailment manifests itself in public view.
We have had a sociological paradigm created in our land that suggests that certain segments of our population are not entitled to the full rights of citizenship.
That they can be summarily dealt with by anyone who harbours a suspicion, realistic or not, that they might have offended against the law or establishmentarian power structure and its affiliates.
About the most blatant evidence of that reality is the disdain with which incident after incident of vigilante killings was greeted by officialdom.
The fact that many citizens at that time, including Attorneys at Law who ought to have known better, and prominent business persons, felt no ethical or moral reservations about arguing that these killings were justified or acceptable, suggest that I am not off track with my conclusions in this respect.
I cannot conceive of any situation in which a female child whose religious faith endorses a mode of attire that virtually covers the entire body could be beaten and stripped in public, and would not have produced a groundswell of protestations from other members of her faith. This does not jive with what we have been seeing in Guyana and this world today.
Yet at a time when there were arguments in the Independent dailies by Clerics who supposedly share the same faith of this young female, that conservative attire was conducive to a decrease in the violence of rape, there were no public reactions from them over this crass and indecent violation.
So I had to ask myself why? I had to ask myself why were they not offended? How could they ignore the fact that a female member of their faith was stripped in public view?
But then I realized that they were immune from such concerns because of who the female was. The fact that she shared their faith was of less significance for them, than the fact of who she was.
And she happened to be a member of the population group living under an establismentarian premise, that they had no rights that some are duty-bound to respect or recognize.
I have a great deal of regard for the ancient Chinese culture with its sophisticated understanding of human values and worth. The great Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “…By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest….”
It would seem to me that many new immigrants to our nation are being impelled by known circumstances to gain wisdom and understanding of how Guyana is culturally structured by imitating establishmentarian behaviours and attitudes they observe on arrival. Why else would any new immigrant to a nation construe that it was okay to beat and strip a female child in public view because they suspect she might have stolen something?
Why else would they respond to my protesting their attitude with the assertion that I should go back to Africa. Imagine, me, a descendant of virtually every group that have suffered oppression in Guyana going back centuries, being commanded to go back to Africa by someone who came here recently.
I refuse to judge an entire group by the odious conduct and attitude of a few.
And it is in this context that I will appeal to the Chinese community to treat every citizen of Guyana in a manner that is consistent with their expectations if they were back in their original countries, and they were in the position of the Guyanese.
Our nation is caught up with strife that has endured for over five decades in which they had no role. The only role they should seek to involve themselves in today as new citizens, is that of the healer, that of the peacemaker, that of the example that diverse human cultures can exist in harmony within a single geography.
If they believe in the wisdom of the wise Confucius then apply his observation “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of……” to the situation in Guyana, and join in removing it from those distinctions.
Mark A. Benschop

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