The mighty United States of America did so almost a century ago and continually draws up blueprints to fight two major wars simultaneously on different fronts, which for even such a resourceful world power is an uphill struggle.
Guyana is not a power of any sort but, in contrast and incredibly, it is locked in existential battles in at least three tangible wars, with still one more threatening and hovering, and with the specter of more dispiriting and decimating conflicts occurring within this nation’s tormented borders and soul.
This society and its peoples are poised on the edges of several slippery and shaky cliffs, with the far rock-spiked bottom waiting to welcome the unthinking and the reckless.
There are knife edges all around. Some of our challenging battlefronts are obvious and familiar, but largely pooh-poohed to the margins of concern by a still believed sensible and mature Guyanese.
There is an electoral war (the trench warfare of a dirty guerilla undertaking), an aerial Coronavirus bombardment (an invisible one with countless conscientious objector citizens), and a one-sided oil war (with a rapacious foreign corporation as a partner that exploits political weaknesses and associated disruptive engagements).
Guyana is in a terrible state and yet it continues to celebrate the draining away of its life blood with all the ignorance of the lost-at-sea, without rudder or compass, and leaking profusely throughout. And this is without considering deeply personal crises, those hard and formidable familial conflicts, that tear at the sinew and mind of this hurting society.
There is the daily war engaged in by a growing number of the populace over how to feed self and family members; there is an ongoing war by businesses to stay open, stay in business, and still stay above water and be meaningful. And there is that other war that is saved for the last, which like acid reflux is overpowering the throat, but there is the public retching and bearing down, to bottle up and keep on the inside, as in down below. As in out of sight and out of contemplation and conversation.
That largest of dooming wars, which even we shrink in presenting publicly, is the palpable presence of a looming race confrontation. We do not want to bring this up, given all the passions raging, but we have a duty to be brutally blunt, fearless too, since sweeping this Guyanese albatross under the carpet and pretending that all is well and all will be well is not part of our makeup nor our outlook.
We wish that we could have said otherwise-the opposite, in fact-but we cannot and do not ascribe to any such national good feeling or societal hypocrisies. We must call matters as they seem, as they have solidified unbreakably.
We look on alongside the rest of our fellow Guyanese citizens at what is happening and unfolding daily, if not hourly, at the nation’s electoral center. It is a brittle center. On every occasion that it is assumed some calm and continuity have come, hopes are dashed, emotions flare, and the worst of suspicions and frustrations are unleashed. It is the surreal slow-motion saga, the real-life disaster captured on phone and film as to the follies and farces of a nation at war with itself. It is the tragedy of a nation unraveling one cell and one limb at a time, and with no merciful end in sight.
The simultaneously burning and sobering questions and issues that come before all citizens, whether interested or not and involved or not are reduced to these simplest of kernels: What are the prospects of going past any elections recount conclusion, whenever such is arrived at, with some degree of social tranquility? How strong and encouraging are the odds of some level of racial ambience within and across the respective racial dugouts? What is the promised likelihood for communal and national peace, as if nothing of the kind had occurred in parliament (December 21, 2018) and by whose hands? What about the build-ups and flare-ups pre- and post-March 2nd?
How can the unyielding passions, and barely and poorly concealed rages, emanating from the Arthur Chung Convention Center not flush their radioactive spreads into the larger, wider society that is glued like never before to every development and the attendant cascading disputes that are now automatic byproducts of this most partisan and bitterest of elections battles?
We say again that, as much as we hope for the better and the quieter, the outlook is as grim as it is unrelentingly stark. At the pyrrhic end of it all, this electoral clash for racial supremacy, knotted and tortured Guyanese society is not simply going to be able or ready to close shop, turn off a light switch, and de-escalate and retreat. That is, de-escalate expectations, defuse rages, detoxify the venoms that have been nurtured and are now spiritedly, if not fervently, cherished.
Examine our communities, analyze excitements, and let us have the honesty and courage to sift through consciences and visions that hold no space for the next group. At present, we exist on the edge in a state of undeclared war, with scant interest in a recession of stormy sentiments, a standing down of muted, but pent up, tensions.
Our leaders in every section of the local political playing fields are irremovably focused on victory at all costs, and absolutely nothing else. Not the welfare or safety of the same citizens that they intrigue and titillate with always advancing rushes of hopes and anticipations, be they grounded or not. Not in the face of, or the remorselessly frightening pincers, of the COVID-19 pandemic that has battered all in its path before and now takes dead aim at a fragile, undermanned and unheeding Guyana.
In this invisible war, save for the fallen (taken for granted) and the rising number of confirmed cases (shrugged off casually) and the alarming convergence of either potential, or proven, or intensifying hotspots (Region 9, the Palms, and internal worrying points, or other border entrance points), there is little by way of comprehensive confrontation at the highest national levels. The sometimes sterling efforts of the COVID-19 National Task Force we recognize, but the expectation is for a universal-in the domestic realm-political leadership attitude and effort that sets aside all other considerations and priorities and hunkers down to the grueling task of combating, as best as we can, the pandemic that rises higher and quicker every single day.
In this struggle, there should be no trace of the partisan, only the rallying at a time of greatest need. Yet, none of this is present in any cohesive component, in any warming detail.
This, too, is what enrages and enslaves in our third war, our one-sided oil war. We are being overrun and overwhelmed, while we stumble and grumble over numbers. The string of inspiring and infuriating numbers are not at GECOM, but in the figures of financial costs (expenses) piled upon the blindfolded heads of enfeebled Guyanese, the environmental costs (reputation) heaped on the nation’s name, and the continuing stream of unknown future costs (hidden) that rob this country of its blessing and its blood. The ExxonMobil(s) of the oil world do not operate by any conventions that restrain, with the result that the atrocities bloom in full flower. There is no court that is going to call it to book for the corporate crimes committed against this country and its citizens, for the economic genocide that it has waged at will on a weak polity. This is the war, the third one in our bleak and dark world, that should give us fits, except that we are still consumed about which comrade and which group is fit and proper to carry us forward, to some place, at some time.
At this time, our undeclared wars are about words-sharp, rattling, warning-with neither listening nor learning following. If we insist and persist on going down this scorched earth, then we set the stage to sow our own self-destruction; like the Carthaginians the acids and salts wait to be tasted.
This, too, is expected to be not blinked at, but frowned over in heightened annoyance at the unwelcomed truth of it all. It is what we have. It is how we are. It is where we are. It is how we like to be. Perhaps, we will summon the wisdom to come to our senses and find a way to step back from the brinks of the promised tragedies that surround us and menace us. On these aspects, there are no exemptions, no provisions, no safe harbors for anyone.
Our wars are killing us. All that is left is to start the counting of the casualties.
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