I am heartened that our two main political leaders have stepped forward very quickly and appealed for calm in the aftermath of the gruesome West Coast Berbice double homicide. As much as I am gladdened that the two of them, President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Leader of the Opposition Joseph Harmon, have moved rapidly, I am compelled to take this further and call things as I see them and as they should not have been.
When a defining characteristic, a nonnegotiable essence, of our lifelong politics and quinquennial elections is the cultivation and studied maintenance of what I describe (kindly) as the calamitous, then the naked passions and raw tensions ratchet up without so much as the drop of a soft hat. And when we step forward with alacrity now and call for calm now amounts to well-received timely public pronouncements, and nothing more. On the other hand, it is also an ingenious form of blatant hypocrisy, an exercise in cosmetics. There are no innocents in this; all are guilty.
We nurtured passions, on both sides, mostly without uttering a single inflammatory word at the leadership levels. It is an indication of how skilled we have become at playing recklessly with dangerous games. I say this in the sharpest, most unsparing terms, and without regard for any side. I say that we did sow the whirlwind, and not just during the last ugly elections season, but via a slow fuse that has sizzled in plain sight for the longest while. Visions and postures, body language and attitudes-again, on both sides-first harbored, then carefully spoon-fed in just the right doses to keep the furies and the fires burning have done the job all too well.
While we raged about democracy, I spoke of the heaving undercurrents. When we were fixated and prioritized (not incorrectly) on the victorious endgame and that same outcome, I mentioned that it will not end well. This much can be said right now: elections 2020 is not over, may never ever be. This is because anything and everything in this country degrades instantly to the racial and the political, and citizens do not even bother to bottle up or conceal underground how they think and feel. As an example, I heard of a Facebook post that spoke in the most disparaging terms of the two deceased, with the barbaric and savaging at the crest of that communication sure to make the rounds.
This is the context in which we exist, there is racial disdain and racial impatience on both sides, and no reaching for the restraints of democratic governance can be adequate should the floodgates burst. During the post no-confidence motion interval and, again, in the post March 2nd elections five month suspended state in which this nation stumbled about blindly and angrily expectations were mismanaged and, to be candid, false ones were planted. The result has been the pressurized and coiled spring tenseness that has become most ordinary and most accepted on both sides of the racial and political divide.
No side is desirous of stepping back, no group wishes to yield and, if they do, the thinking is that it is only temporary. There were and are great expectations of leaders to pull the plug and let events take their course. I think that we are so depraved and backward that we have no idea of the perils with which we play, and which this society is ill-suited to absorb, maybe even survive. When leaders, the same ones now stepping to front and calling for calm, failed to make a more spirited and sustained effort to denounce or correct or caution or hold in check the excesses of their respective supporters, then the stage was set for where we are today. It is not going away anytime soon and, from my read of things, is certain to intensify and suck in even the so-called moderates, of which there are but few.
I am concerned and troubled by where we are. It is what I had feared, for there is great potential for the extremists to exploit and wreak havoc. However this is said-hanging by a thread, sitting on a powder keg, to name a couple-it only begins to capture the seething resentments, and the simmering emotions raging. This is most unhealthy.
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