Sep 20, 2020 Editorial
Race relations are all the rage now in this society. This includes presences and voices that are committed tribalists, with the victorious silent and smug, while the vanquished struggle to get footing and hearing.
Traveling in lockstep with race agenda, race visions, and possible race solutions is justice and peace. It all makes for guarded interest, since anything that is positive regarding race matters in this country, is due some listening, much analyzing.
We have some recommendations to put on the table for our fellow citizens to digest. Whatever comes up currently, and in the future, relative to racial tensions and hostilities, must not be about the convenience and pressure of present circumstances only. Instead, it must be about the convergence of understandings that flow from the firmest convictions-collective and individual-that many mistakes have been made, and that the same terrible mistakes and missteps occur frequently. And that when they do, they lead to journeying on the same disabling, unrewarding pathways.
It is always regrettable-indeed, alarming and disgusting-that seasoned political presences seizing the moment represent nothing more than the patently superficial.
The resulting issue and consequence are that this society and its peoples must live with more hypocrisy, more inactivity, and more of these farces that are repeated shamelessly and unconcernedly.
The government people wax brightly about unity in one breath beginning with the declaration of elections results, for the record. Then, they turn right around and undermine the empty words about unity that are a penny a punt here in what they do.
In its follow-up actions, the PPP/C has presented a sturdy image of what is calculatingly intended to maintain the searing disunities that are present. One example should suffice.
In one of the recent parliamentary sessions on the budget, state television coverage is delivered far and wide when government speakers are inaction. But when an opposition member rose to make his presentation, the live TV coverage was switched off. This happened on at least one glaring instance involving opposition MP, Raphael Trotman. And, to emphasize that this was no accident or as a result of technical difficulties, no sooner had the Honorable Member of the House concluded his address, than the previously turned off coverage resumed live transmission again, when the government member responsible for Labour took to the microphone.
We cannot talk about unity and be so petty and mean-spirited. We cannot speak warmly about race relations and about working assiduously at improving the deplorable condition in which such relations exist when this degree of recrimination takes center stage to lock out and block out those who represent a significant segment of the voting population.
For certainty, what happened in parliament last week was not on some remote and isolated desert locale but in the midst of an alert and engaged population. It is one that is on pins and needles and easily roiled by any rustling leaf, any misplaced phrase.
Surely, leaders cannot speak out of one side of their mouths about unity, and then be so unthinking and uncaring as to the accumulating implications of his kind of attitude and action. It is what spells serious trouble this society, which no volume of platitudes and political shallowness could paper over or make disappear without incurring additional rancor.
This is something that this country could ill-afford. Not when a segment of the population, and its elected representatives, are so demeaned and dismissed, since they, too, would be less than human if they were not to entertain instincts aimed at getting even. In such a context, any talk of enhancement of race relations and peace and justice amount to nothing more than so much hot empty air.
When leaders insist on perpetuating the passions that rage, then talk of unity is treated with scorn and instant disregard. Add also, deeds such as those involving witch hunts and humiliating public job purges, and these translate into exercises that drop by drop and one fateful misstep after another seal the destiny of this society. Racial harmony and racial unity, even racial tolerance and appreciation, are all reduced to the laughable and contemptible.
So when the president speaks breezily about unity, it can be safely said that he is the epitome of hypocrisy-visible, audible, and palpable-and the transparency of his lack of potent intentions to heal this land. None should be fooled for a minute.
In the same vein, opposition leaders and veterans-part of the vortex of seasoned racial campaigners-have shown remarkable skill with racial postures no less self-serving, no less one-sided, no less lacking in genuineness (just like the government) in their visions of what could be meaningfully inclusive. Boone opposition leader spoke of the unavoidable necessity of segments of society being subject to the “inconvenient” in the pursuit of justice. As that loaded word is sifted through, it brings back to another heavyweight phrase that has much meaning for victims and survivors in this country. The familiar phrase is ‘collateral damage’, which is justified.
It isn’t; never is, never can be. Because, when Guyanese, be they supporters or their political leaders, or the unattached but severely troubled, step forward and speak about ‘no justice, no peace’ both vital elements anywhere, and especially the latter, cannot be as defined exclusively by any single side. It cannot and must not be about that which adds unwisely another layer to the onion of our existence, causing our eyes to become unseeing, thus obscuring inconvenient truths.
Peace in Guyana will be phony and not flourish, if it is held to ransom by the many political prejudices that proliferate. Or that which is cultivated by the shortsighted and the short-term thinking that shortchanges this society. If we are going to have peace with purpose, and of meaningful potency, then leaders from both sides of the divide have to commit genuinely to stop ushering people and plans down a path that intensifies political and racial perversities.
If we are truly about peace and justice, and all that that embodies, then old skins must be shed, and the usual crafty racial conspiracies be things of the past. Otherwise, it is the tiring carousel of reciprocal accusations, condemnations, and crippling episodic convulsions. The dams of restraint are thin; there is a thinner sober and temperate middle to buffer the raging extremes. It cannot stand, does not hold. While we toy with rhetoric about justice leading to peace, there is only so much pressure that this frail society can withstand. Those pressures are relentless, and with sharp callousness that infuses the waking thoughts, words, and deeds of both sides.
Government and opposition leaders, along with their intellectuals and elders, cannot continue to play these games without consequence. Rupture is bound to occur. Undoubtedly, peace as buoyed by justice is admirable, and an objective worth investing much in and pursuing zealously. Our leaders must manifest the depth of character and the strength of will if Guyana is going to get somewhere, anywhere. We urge wisdom. We insist upon sincerity and authenticity. We say: be about balance and about what is progressive for the betterment of environment and people. All of them, not just the group favored. Otherwise we fool ourselves and set ourselves up for grave troubles.
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