One family confronts the most painful of decisions. A national family circles in protective embrace. As Winston Murray clings precariously to the tendrils of mortality, a massive safety net hovers near his fingertips to cushion his suddenly perilous days. In a time of severe individual and family distress, this nation finds out – and learns anew – so much about itself; about the limitless vistas of its possibilities; and so much of how and what it can be.
President Jagdeo, his party, and involved government officials must be praised for concern, timeliness, and outreach strong on substance. Much of the same is said to Opposition Leader Corbin and the PNC for responding positively through grasping the official hands extended. In this particular instance, I cannot see anything of the calculated; I refuse to peer into things related to either the tactical or strategic. There is just no place for any of this right now. Rather, I prefer to observe and identify with the giving and sharing, the common decencies that separate men from beasts; that prevail at times such as these; and that are so characteristic of the way of life that Guyanese have known at the individual and community levels for as long as they can remember.
This is the core humanity that inhabits even the most heartless, detoxifies the most poisoned, and flows from all of us when situations arise to remind us of the terrible fragility of human existence. It is during these sobering moments, at times such as these, that I ask the simplest of questions, in the softest of ways. I ask them more of myself, than of others. Yet I realize that these same simple questions do have a larger application, the potential for greater flowering, in a much vaster arena, such as the national consciousness, and the national outlook.
Why is it that it takes extreme misfortune, as is now the circumstances of the Murray family, to unveil that which is noble and constructive from all sides in this troubled province? What in the way of superior intelligence is required to appreciate and accept that so much can be achieved working together with common purpose towards shared objectives? Why is that as a nation we continue to not understand – or to learn – that the roads travelled have always led to bridges too far away from each other and for what we stand? These are the questions to which the answers are as plentiful as the flowing sun at midday, and just as harsh, too.
A few may hasten to see a naïveté in me and all of this; a misplaced idealism that knows not the intricacies and subtleties of politics and power. They just may be right. But it is just as right, too, that I persevere in the beliefs that so much more awaits for those brave enough, if only to dare to try, to give ourselves a semblance of a chance. Perhaps I am bold enough – and presumptuous, too – to agree with Emerson when he said that “the invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.” That so much of the untapped promise, the positive, unchannelled energies of a people could be realized, if only the will could be summoned for the staggering sacrifices demanded to make some things possible.
No, I see not the naïveté of the politically rusticated; only a pragmatic idealism that cultivated societal tensions can be dissipated and redirected towards more progressive pathways. That there is no limit to what is possible, if only heads and hearts can be brought together at the more demanding junctions of our cluttered psyche. That the current outpouring of presence and projection of interest furnish inklings of all that could be. If ranks can close, hands joined, and political leaders rise as Winston Murray began his fateful fall, then there can only be hope, on which rests the cornerstone of our humanity. This has been the Guyanese Way; it has made us who we are, wherever we wash ashore. Perhaps, it can be the political way too; if only to ease a nation out of that which has mired and tired.
But sadly, and all too soon, this startlingly shining moment will inevitably give way to the familiar morass and old routines. It will be time to return to turning away, and to turning backs. This is how we have been; with rare exceptions, it is what we have always known. It is a searing truth that the name Winston Murray was once offered as a balm that could possibly soothe; an untried poultice rife with healing; that the man in falling did assist us to tower over the separations and animosities that devour. His is a promise now forever lost to the nation in what could have been. We will never know…
To the family huddled in its period of bleakness, I say be strong at this time of trial and overwhelming stress: you never walk alone. This is known; this I believe. And I believe too that even in the darkest night a candle glows, and it glows for thee.
To the larger political and national families, it is indeed stirring to behold-if only for the most fleeting of interludes-the sparkle of what is right and an abiding humanity. This is what defines us, should show the way, but somehow fails to carry us forward when needed the most. If only this fleeting sparkle could be sustained, be practiced to the fullest, then how much better would our existence be… Then again, this is asking for too much.
Confederate General Stonewall Jackson retreating with the wounds inflicted by a terrible civil discord reportedly uttered these final words: “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.” As stricken man and family cross their rivers and retreat to nurse cruel wounds, perhaps leaders could also pause and rest: if only to reflect on how to extend the idea of what a Winston Murray was intended to signify.