A man who has lived here almost all of his life, a friend of longstanding, the other morning asked me if I don’t know better, and why I am not learning, and am even concerned about where things are, and where they could end up; where they will end up, all things and parties considered. He then proceeded to share with me, and remind me, of an old way in this country. It went like this.
In the community, there are neighbours living either side by side or a little more apart, or a family of husband and wife and children right next door. Over the years, there was sporadic and low-level quarreling. In time, as the years passed, the parties not only grew older and bolder, they became lesser and lesser restrained as both sides diminished to more hostility and more aggression directed at each other. Given the now very public and undeniable national scourge of domestic violence, many in this society are familiar with existing next to such warring parties. And this is the sad circumstances of what is happening in our national politics.
First, in an effort (repeated and patient, but fatiguing, efforts, to be more accurate) the older folks used to intervene and introduce calm and peace. That is, temporary quiet and peace until the next flare up and blowout and beatdown. These helping hands from the outside village would have started with the father, with the mother following in quick succession. After a while, it became the mother alone, then some older children or child. And then, there was no one, who cared enough anymore to squander any of their precious time and energies to try to salvage the unsalvageable. That would be the conclusion of dispirited and disgusted neighbours, who acted as helpers and peacemakers. But no longer, since they have had enough, are disinterested, and have their own challenges and priorities to face and overcome.
But unsaid in that conclusion and resignation of neighbour and village, or friend and family in the city, which my own friend imparted to me was this: after all this time and no learning and adjusting, at this rate, there could be only one outcome: at some time, somebody is going to kill somebody, and that is when it is going to be over, with some new tragic chapter beginning.
I have long used the seething and dangerous circumstances of bad domestic partnership, so familiar here nowadays, to illustrate our local political situation, inclusive of disputes and impasses and the whole sordid litany of animosities. However, I have never gone to this level of granularity before. The most I have offered is that we have to resolve our heated differences on our own at some time. And this is because at one time or another the outsiders, be they concerned regional neighbours or more distant foreign friends, similarly troubled by our situation, would have to move on. Or they would just throw up their hands and give up in disgust, while leaving us to our own devices.
What I have never said is that, unless amicably resolved by the contentious neighbours or unhinged domestic couple, somebody is going to kill somebody and then matters will have to go from there to wherever they lead. For the children. For the name of the family. For the future and whatever shattered prospects were still in store. As we spoke and I weighed (both of us), I sense that this is where we are as a nation, as hard and as baffling and troubling as this sounds to me and most likely many more Guyanese.
For as I look at our tragic politics, this is where we are heading: where somebody is going to kill somebody, to use that crude Guyanese expression. I do not envision how it can be otherwise, when everybody is holding on to the claim that they are right and that their cause is righteous. In effect, not only they are right, but that they are righter than everybody else. I ask pardon for wounding (‘righter’) the language so cavalierly. There is no give, no decreasing of the volume, no lessening of the intensity of raging passions. This thing could only end one way. The man from Trinidad and Tobago said it best: “this is not going to end well.” I think I knew that all along, which is why I keep wondering why I have not simply moved away (like those neighbours of yore) and go about some more rewarding undertakings. It could be because I am still hopeful…
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