Regardless of the outcome of this election, Guyanese will have to move forward in charting our destiny. Notions that persons can do without each other or can treat the other with contempt will come toppling down in the face of reality that our interest, survival and wellbeing are mutually intertwined.
I say without exception, no group can survive without the others. No group has within themselves the resources and capacity to operate independently of others. It is a fact that in the productive, distribution and consumption cycle we depend on each other. You may have the goods or services to provide, but the ability to profit/benefit from these relies on those who purchase same, and those who depend on the spending power of others to secure their economic interest.
The labour landscape be it entrepreneurial, employed, government or non-government sectors reveal ethnic diversity and in some instances concentration of an ethnic group. Can we in pursuit of our interest say we will not utilise the service or good of this or that group because they do not look like us, believe in the same thing we do, or do not share similar political persuasion? Are we, in the pursuit of securing our self-interest, particularly those guaranteed in the Constitution of Guyana, think we can arrogate to ourselves a ‘right’ to deprive others their rights?
Persons may try, but they won’t be allowed to succeed for the experiences and lessons of history, including those of our forebears which proudly run in our veins, show that man has always resisted efforts or acts to dehumanise him. There will be resistance. It is to this reality we turn, hopefully, sooner rather than later. It is the reality of our equality and innate desire to be treated with dignity and respect which will force recognition that irrespective of class, ethnicity, socio-economic standing, power or otherwise, the sanitation worker in the scheme of things is vital to our health, the police officer is necessary for our safety and security. The nurse is necessary to our care, the teacher to our education, the vendor to the produce we seek, the customer to your sales, and so forth.
Someone once said, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” We cannot as a people hold on to primitive notions of intolerance and think we can progress. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us, “In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
Writing from his cell in the Birmingham jail, he goes on to say, “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” Guyana and Guyanese can identify. Our struggle, while it simmers and manifests in all its rage and disdain at elections, must be addressed by lancing the festering sore, allowing the nation to heal, and its beauty to manifest.
King’s only societal sin was fearlessly speaking out, holding the political establishment to account, demanding the rights of African Americans, – which other minorities benefitted from – the basic right to human decency and equality as enshrined in the United States Constitution. History shows that to be right or take a stand for what is right could come at great sacrifice in the face of intolerance, fear, and thinking that might is right. But this must be seen only as a challenge not hindrance to pursue what is just, right, and fair.
We are One People, One Nation, One Destiny. Our survival, humanity, is mutually intertwined. Honest acknowledgement will bring respect in thoughts, actions, and treatment of each other. The Constitution of Guyana guarantees all the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. Where all 83, 000 square miles of this nation is ours, including the resources within, above and beneath, all are entitled to equality, the right to work, free speech, assemble, ownership of property, share in the national patrimony, political association, protection from discrimination, etc.
Citizens are urged to acquaint themselves with these basic freedoms and rights and seek to protect and make them possible in our lifetime. For what is a man who liveth on his knees and refuses to fight to stand on his feet. The future belongs to all of us. We must go forth boldly and claim it.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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