Kaieteur News – The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) is expected to soon have a public discourse with the country’s political leaders in order to improve ethnic relations. I thought that was supposed to be the mandate of the ERC, but it appears as if they are passing the buck when it comes to responsibility for improving race relations.
The country’s political leaders are not the problem. The people are at fault.
Take for example the situation with our young people. They were supposed to be the generation which would not become victims of racial polarization. It was said that since they were not born during the 1960s when there was race strife, that they would not be poisoned by the ethnic bug. They have. They have fallen in line. Just as previous generations did.
The political leaders of Guyana cannot be held chiefly responsible for the contamination of our young people. They have some responsibility but the problem is not at Congress Place or Freedom House. The political parties are victims also of ethnic polarization. They would love nothing better than to enjoy multiracial support but their efforts are not succeeding in any significant manner.
The source for ethnic polarization is to be found in the homes. That is where it starts and spread to areas where there is competition – the economic sectors, government and politics.
There is no ethnic polarization in our schools. Just take a look at our school children. They are at their happiest when they are with their multiracial friends.
The problem is in the homes. That is where the race problem is germinated. This is where the greatest hypocrisy lies because on the one hand, parents claim that they bring up their children, not to harbour prejudices against persons of another race. However, behind closed doors and out of the earshot of our neighbours, they peddle ethnic narratives.
The people are their own worst enemies. There is too much hypocrisy. They purport to believe in one thing but privately hold the opposite view. They pretend to be unbiased but they harbour ethnic bitterness. They may not want to admit but they know that this is indeed happening in many instances.
A disconnect exists between what people profess as their ideals and what they practice. And this is the source of ethnic conflict. Hypocrisy! If people would come out and be honest about what they really believe, we would be able to make progress in race relations.
Glenn Lall repeats something often to his staff. He tells them that if they do not stand up for certain things, they will fall for anything.
There are persons in this country who claim they believe in democracy. But in truth and fact, they are willing to accept dictatorship so long as it is by the party they support. There are some persons who say that they believe in free and fair elections but they would stand and see an election being rigged and say nothing simply because it benefits the party which they support. There are persons who believe that Guyana was conned in the oil negotiations but they will not come out and say it because it will make their political masters look bad.
Some persons say that they want the best government for Guyana. But what they really want is to be ruled by their own. But they do not want to admit this fact. It is this type of hypocrisy which is the source of our problems. We pretend to have certain ideals but in practice we are disconnected from those ideals.
So long as this type of hypocrisy exists, there is nothing which our political leaders can do to improve race relations. The ERC is wasting its precious time to have such a discourse on race with the country’s political leaders. It will be another talk shop. The political leaders will say the politically-correct things. But nothing they say will have any meaningful impact.
The ERC should be helping people settle on moral ideals and to rid themselves of double standards. Once the people rid themselves of hypocrisy, the ethnic relations problem becomes easier to solve. No amount of talking with political leaders will bring any rewards so long as the people are disconnected from the values they profess.
(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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