Hardly a week goes by without some tragic road accident caused by speeding. Guyana’s roads are now one of the major causes of deaths.
The more the government invests in improved highways, the faster the vehicles go and the deaths multiply. But behind all the speeding is an economic element.
We have become a market-oriented world. In this world, time is money and therefore we have been culturally conditioned by the mass production line. The faster the line goes the greater the production.
The greater the production, the better chances you have of retaining your job and getting a fatter bonus at the end of the year. Speed therefore counts. On the production line things cannot move slowly for slowness connotes a lack of progress.
Speed is the deal. The production worker hurries off the line at the end of his shift and goes home. He has been conditioned to believe that time is precious so as soon as he gets out of the factory it is straight to his preferred mode of transportation. No time to stop and look around and experience his environment.
When he reaches home, he also does things quickly unable to break the rhythm of his work. To relax, he sits in front of a television and seeks to fill the emptiness that has been caused by a process that treats him like the product he is producing at work. To fill that void he has to seek more thrills. He needs thrills and thrills are usually fast-paced.
The market fills these needs by providing products of excitement: movies that are filled with action and rapid twists of scenes, high-voltage entertainment and drinks that hype your energy; and of course recreational parks where flirting with danger is transformed into a fun activity.
The need to flirt with danger becomes more acute because of the weather which denies outdoor activities for a substantial part of the year. Thus when the weather is good, hay is made of the conditions.
The need for thrill becomes a tonic to satisfy the disconnectedness caused by living in a consumer society.
This is the culture that has penetrated Guyana because of the advent of television and the increased travel by Guyanese and those who come to Guyana. It is creating a culture of moving fast. It is leading to speed and trying to get things done.
But that is not the traditional way of the Caribbean. Hard work does not mean fast work. And getting somewhere fast does not mean that you will end up better off.
The hunger for speed is insatiable. People are not slowing down. They are racing to go to the market; racing to go to work; racing to get home; racing to get out of the house after they have gotten home.
Even in cricket we have seen the popularity of a shortened form of a shortened version of the game, all because of the need to provide greater thrills rather than showcase greater skills. People are impatient to get where they are going even though when they get where they are going they seem to have a great deal of time on their hands.
Guyana is addictively hooked to the fast-paced culture. We need that regular fix of speed to make us feel alive. We are speed junkies.
The consequences we see are tragic. We are destroying our lives by this addiction to speed.
We need to stop and take stock and ask ourselves whether this preoccupation with speed is improving the quality of our lives or whether it is doing just the opposite; making our lives less meaningful and satisfying.
What we see happening on the roadways is part of a material culture that is wreaking havoc with lives. We need to stop and take note of this fact and to try to make sense of what is taking place within our society.
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