I look at us and listen to us and read about us. We are all saying the right things, doing some good things, except one thing. From that we shudder and shrink: the possibilities of where that one thing could lead are found unthinkable and unacceptable.
Our leaders and their stewards are doing some positive things: close the bars (belatedly); call for social distancing (repeatedly and timely); and halting international travel and local school attendance (sensibly and protectively). There are other encouraging things, but these are enough to paint a snapshot of what is being done to counter – evade and deny, really – the virus that comes to kill. Though there is so much more, from my perspective, that should already be in place, this is what it is, as of now, even as I keep hoping for more.
But it is all about responding to the health crisis that could become a real uncontrolled calamity. And even on this which could decimate us beyond imagination and repair, I note that we can’t even bring ourselves to talk with each other, to agree on a joint approach.
No! Coalition and opposition cannot bring themselves to sit around the same table at the same time and have a vision and conversation for the nation on what could devastate it. So, they (we) go our separate ways.
It is because we find each other so repulsive in our presences, so retarded in our visions, and so utterly objectionable in our ambitions that we go on our divided ways. Because, at this most demanding hour, we look upon each other as leaders, as parties, and as wider groups, and all we can behold are those who inhibit the political calculus harboured. So, we hop along in the face of the virus, when two sets of minds (and all hands) are needed to combat this scourge.
On the political side, listen to us: democracy and process, good things all, but in our hands and from our throats, all bull. They function as camouflage for naked ambition and naked power. Nothing else! And God help any who stand in the way.
To get nearer to something resembling democracy, the Americans had their Civil War, the French their Revolution, and the British had their taste of Reformation and restoration. They all are better for those. What have we had, but the cunning that criminalises a supposedly idealistic process?
We find each other so despicable that we need, clamour and reach for, strangers and outsiders, friendly neighbours and wiser elders, no matter how near or how far away. I am insulted by this, made to feel lesser for this; and for that, I will bow to none.
I observe Guyana, us Guyanese, and I remember (again) the ominous but perfect parallel of a disturbed domestic setting, with all its fears and pains and agonies. The combative partners and leaders confront and clash endlessly, while the children either cower, or are forced to take sides. And then, there are always those magnanimous relations and associations from next door, or elsewhere, who are summoned urgently to rescue. Again. To help pick up the pieces. Again. To restore shattered spirits. Again. That is, until the next time sure to come, when the worse and unmanaged and unaddressed weaknesses live on and deepen. Some have led to the lethal.
Just as how community, the neighbourly, and family cannot help such warring and self-destructive partnerships; so, too, it is at the nationally perpetually hostile level. No court, no Caribbean Community, no international agency can succeed in bringing and putting us together, in fusing us together on an enduring basis.
The domestic partners, no matter how handicapped or wasteful the record, have to agree to work this out for staying together and try really hard together; or together decide on going separate ways. And we know what that means, don’t we? I do. I will settle for the simplest phrase: divide us officially; make it what we want it to be, since we cannot coexist together in the same space. There! I said it.
Simply by looking at newspapers, I have no doubt that we are a smart set of people. Sometimes, we are too smart for our own good. And no sheltering under democratic norms and principles and altruisms can diminish that; or deter me from thinking this way. We are not ready for its demands; don’t know what to do with democracy. Nor are we prepared to discover and deploy what is required when the challenges come. We have had such challenges repeatedly, and we have failed abjectly.
I foresee that the community – whoever and from wherever – will come. And then they will go, leaving us with our 5-year plasters and poultices. And then we will still have each other to face daily. How will we be, but the only way that we have always known. How can we be any other? There is limited upside in that.
It is the most savaging of ironies that in this one nation of supposedly “One people…,” we are anything but… Never is. And somehow, some people tell me that we can be different this time. I say wait until the next time.
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