A one-time national political figure, now based almost exclusively overseas, has called for “national unity” before elections and the pending border matter in front of international tribunes.
As calls go, it is constructive, well-meaning, and wishful.
Rather regrettably, this vitally important message has already faded before ears blocked and hearts hardened into the toughest steel. Other than for the occasional passing and empty jingoisms, there is little nationwide receptivity and nothing by way of foundation for such calls to unity to tighten into unbreakable cement.
Instead, and similarly disastrously, national disunity is now an integral characteristic of the national political culture and social compact of Guyana for an eternity now. This core disunity was exacerbated and richly fueled by the no-confidence ingredients of December 2018.
Even a cursory examination indicates that national disunity is what quickens the blood, thrills, and is embraced and beloved. Like any addiction–demon rum, a serially cheating and abusive partner, the love of money–most Guyanese are helpless before its attractions, which have transformed into paralyzing full-fledged obsessions.
Look again, and it is obvious that there is great anxiety and fear (and resistance) over anything else that could hold some marginal likelihood of wresting the peoples of this country out of the long national nightmare lived.
In aggregate, this represents the personal, communal, and environmental catastrophes that strangle uninterruptedly, but never at such a high pitch as during national elections. For during these repeated five-year rites of passage, citizens bow in ecstatic homage to the age-old prejudices that spiral into animosities first and then settled hatreds thereafter.
This is the sum of the limitations of our visions, the dismal picture of personal and societal resignations.
National disunity, as much as we at this paper find it despicable and counter to all that is progressive, is what has to be admitted flourishes seamlessly. It is all we know, what has been lived with all along, and all of what we want, individual protestations and political exhibitions aside.
It is why occasional, hypocritical, mainly farcical calls for “national unity” fall on the stoniest of grounds. The relentless campaign began long ago by political groups to redirect allegiance from the national and the patriotic to the seductive interests of parties and the enchantments of overpowering leaders have succeeded all too well. Hence, we have what we have and are how we are.
For as long as the prior and current generations have lived, we have planted the bitter roots of deep political allegiances and proud, deeper bigotries. Now we reap the poisoned fruits of suspicions and antagonisms and sharp passions that have produced the now chronic, possibly incurable, divisions that pummel flesh and spirit and existence.
It is a terribly burdensome and devastatingly unappealing way to live. This is what we believe and irrevocably so.
We wish, pray, and hope that our present circumstances, our promised future, may be different. Yet, we must be realistic and not fool ourselves once again. For having sown, or contributed to, national disunity from the cradle of the homestead, on the knee of formative youth, in the swaggering shoulders of adult maturity, and all the way to the grave, there is little of the appealed for, wished-for national unity to gain genuine and durable grasp.
In our heart of hearts, we would like for the disturbing matters of race and unity to be the exact opposite of what and they are today and have always been.
But we owe it to ourselves and to the Guyanese people to be thoughtful, truthful, and faithful to the reality that is so pervasive. That reality is best summed up in a few short, sharp sentences. Almost no one wants to hear of anything to do with national unity at this time, other than with the most studied and distant politeness.
Almost no one wants to say it and mean it, beyond the recognizably laughed-at lisps of lip service, which dies an ignoble death even before it could be born.
We cannot hear of national unity from one source only and at elections hours only. We cannot progress on the road toward national unity when it takes center stage during times of rage and heaving disturbances only.
National unity, if we are authentic about it, has to be worked upon tirelessly and nurtured patiently and diligently. National unity is like that most fragile of beings: a premature child: calmed and cared for, hugged and helped, along the way to some semblance of life, through all the pains and heartaches that encircles the mysteries of life and its many searing challenges, too.
In Guyana, national unity has to be handled in this manner, if it is going to have some reasonable probability of success.
Since such sustained devotions have never been part of Guyana’s political and electoral equations, the divided peoples of this country approach elections with the usual scorching passions, the regular raw and ripe emotions.
All are carried in our hearts and on the tattered lengths of our sleeves and the glitter of our breastplates.
This is the national tragedy that is Guyana. It is the mournful dirge that locks one and all in the merciless trance of national disunity. The climate and circumstances from now to March 2, will confirm and, so too, will the counts and consternations that are sure to come. We wish it were otherwise.
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