Here we are again on another anniversary of our Independence Day. It has been over a half century of proving and confirming repeatedly that we are NOT truly free. At the rate we are going as a nation, we may never be free of our own weaknesses and the fears that come from them.
Democracy may come by hard-earned degrees, some limited movement achieved after much draining struggle and outcry, but there is still so much more that remains outside of our grasp, beyond the boundaries of our consciousness, outside the scope of our confining visions. In the continuing fooling of ourselves that we have found some measure of freedom, we keep holding on to the fetters that limit us, which hobble and weigh us down and, ultimately, imprison us.
We do so when the very chains that we should have shaken off as far back as 1966, we use them thoughtlessly and heedlessly to wrap ourselves into the bondages that control us; when we use the same chains of freedom to whip ourselves into frenzies and lash out at hated others. We do so when we insist on going round and round in endless circles near the same racially rotted pillars on which we insensibly believe that we can build a nation, a diverse nation of six peoples and counting. It is of all the peoples, who all think and envision, to a greater or lesser degree, that they, too, have their place; and that they, too, must be reserved a place in the councils of governance that stand over this nation. In the simplest terms, we may think we are free, but our actions are not those of men and women freed of anything.
The chains that trap us, and which make a mockery of the freedoms that should be of National Independence, are of the priorities of only two, one or the other, of the six and more races that make up the broad rainbow of this realm. It has never been of the other four and their dreams, merely of how they can be appealed to, used and misused, and marshaled and commandeered to do dark deeds for the dominant ones.
But yet we say that we are a free nation and a free people. It is good that such a spark still seeps through the dense and dismal darkness that enshrouds this land. The reciprocal fears of one for the other, along with the inevitable byproducts that flow from such a toxic, draining and, finally, enslaving well. It is why we find great relish in, and we do our damnedest to, keep the next threatening group under the boot, to tie its members up in knots and on the margins of hat has been sacrificed for and paid for in the poured blood, sweat, and tears of our long gone ancestors, their ancestors, and not to forget ours either for one moment.
And, so, we spin our wheels endlessly and untiringly through the revolutions of time and season that leave us still more pathetic and scorned before the gaze of condescending contemporaries. What is infinitely more inexplicable is that we continue to do so in the face of the self-condemnations that emerge from our own self-examinations, which merely serve to pronounce on the futility of all our bigotries and our wastages. Still worse yet, is the example we set before our children, those young and still unformed minds, who wonder why we rant, and before too long, learn to pick up the chants and passions that enslave the next generation. And so we go from one celebration, now the muted observation only, of Guyana’s Independence Day to the next.
This is what we call freedom, from this we shape the racial choreographies that grace our dance steps. Like John the Baptist, when one group dances with victorious abandon in the high hallways of this society, some other group on the margins that are their dungeons, knows what it means to lose their collective heads. This is solution, this is satisfying, this is the noblest ideal to which we can aspire in this diverse, this hopelessly and dangerously, divided land.
We do not know of a nation that could comfort itself for so long and cavort by itself so contentedly in the sun for so long in the implausibility of such a freedom. Below the surface, we think we detect the resignation that comes from surrendering to the Fates and the studied resistance to doing something to change circumstances and the realities that are powered by them. That is, to be bold enough to experiment with a different kind of nationhood, a still untried form of governance that includes all and rewards all, with at least some sense of belonging and participating and actually owning a share and having a say in the manifold directions towards the singular destination that is of our one destiny. Such is the addition and subtraction of this vaunted freedom of ours.
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