Jun 21, 2021 Letters
I read a recent writing of Mr. Hamilton Green, and took the time to follow the reactions in the letter columns. They are revealing; frightening, too. Though, I am neither engaging nor joining nor upholding nor condemning any of the parties, I wish to share what this stirred within me.
I remember the searing, smoky 60s, too. I can bypass the pain of then, because I have somehow learned along the way, so my own scars cracked and peeled away. Can the rest of us? On any side of the divide? We are good about caring for animals, better at caring about domestic violence, and best at all the other things in this Guyanese passage: suicide, crime, poverty, come quickly to mind.
Yet, it gravely eludes us to care for each other, the relationships that we should have, but don’t. And from the white-hot heats of the letter commentaries, it appears that we may never. Given the sizzling national cauldron, thoughts of healing and reconciling: what chance those? What likelihood those that clearly have no place in our hearts, no traction in our minds, no welcome in our souls?
I can tell my fellow Guyanese of rage, wounding, draining. But to what purpose? To perpetuate prejudice, to sharpen passions, to incite deeper wounds?
Of that I will have no part, no partnership. But of this I can share, with the little joy left in this land, the many lush joys with which this life can grace. I suggest my fellow Guyanese, no exceptions, try them sometime, and soonest. If not, we will continue to infuriate each other, flay at each other, and scorch each other endlessly, and kill the spirit of each other.
The same result that leads us right back to the same place will concretize: we live and relive 1960s and 70s and all the other dismal deadly decades after. I am not an innocent, but I refuse to see guilt in others.
It is a profound place to be, the higher ground I have clawed for all my life, failing most of it.
The self-enhancement that will not come from books, or the likeminded; but from life’s harsh, but enlightening trials. They furnish opportunities to reflect and renew; hopefully rehabilitate in a new direction.
It is a peculiarity of Guyanese unyielding prejudices that we can hate each other, yet welcome the architects of our fallen paradise, our then circumstances and our future trampled upon, rearranged, and desecrated. The first word was Marxism.
The next two happened to be Cheddi Jagan. And the third and fourth words have names like Americans and British. Look at what they did to us, how they cultivated ambitions, fostered separations, and yet we sanctify them today. But of our own prophets from our own little village towns, we are merciless in our unforgiveness, in the mental and emotional brutalities that make the bestial of us all.
We love to say how beloved is this country, but which part, but our own? We chatter about truth and reconciliation, but whose truths and to what manner of reconciliation, other than as defined and dictated by us? I assert that we lie and lie, but to what point? I prefer to say that we miss the boats that leave us stranded on these stormy shores.
I leave my raucous Guyanese brethren in the divides with that familiar prayer from Aeschylus: to learn is to suffer.
And even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget comes drop by drop on the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
That is the pain and pathos of Guyana; the pathos, because we cannot forget, so the pain festers. We resist understanding, too, so societal traumas paralyze, making us objects of mockery. What we persevere with is the tolerance of intolerance. It is what makes us enduringly proud.
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