Burning a school where 850 of our children receive the golden gift of education is a cruel act. Shocking and alarming it is that this act of criminal arson took place in Linden last week.
When we become careless and callous about shaping the future generation, we harm ourselves with a terrible wound. Our society tomorrow suffers when we burn schools.
Whatever social and economic problems beset the mining town, the burning of a school, and burning of buildings housing essential social services, smacks of the worst of human nature. Such acts are barbaric, inhumane and lack conscience.
How did we descend to such lows? How did our Guyanese nation plunge to such a terrible moral abyss?
The world watches us behave as if we are an uncivilized people, unable to use language, words, dialogue to solve our differences.
We tear up roads, destroy economic activity, including international mining operations which bring in foreign investments, and descend to rowdy lawlessness on the streets.
What kind of message are we sending to our children, seeing the way we tackle our problems?
What kind of society are we building?
Government stands fully responsible for the state of the society. Guyanese elected the Government to maintain law and order, to negotiate with the national fabric to ensure peaceful co-existence, to prevent anarchy, to stifle evil, to build and manage a social environment that works for the uplift and care of every citizen, to foster and protect investments – local and foreign.
The Opposition feels helpless despite their majority seat in the National Assembly. After sanctioning the Home Affairs Minister following the cruel and inhumane Police shooting to death of three protesters in Linden, including a disabled young man, Parliament saw the said Minister rise to debate in the House. Government completely and absolutely ignores the majority Opposition.
The arrogance and wanton disregard in Government’s attitude to its citizens fuel unnecessary tension and social stress.
With a President who remains above Parliament, refusing to accept the mandate of the House and the people, the nation suffers deep wounds.
At the end of the day, responsibility must lie at the foot of someone for the social chaos that engulfs Linden, turning it into the deadliest mass protest since our 1966 political Independence.
Every society harbours discontents, people who would disrupt and destroy the peaceful ways of a people. Every society is under a threat of anarchy. It is why we have police forces and armies in every nation on the earth.
We elect our Government to maintain order, progress and development in society. When a Government has to resort to its Army and Police Force to stem internal dissent, something is terribly wrong.
Government must see itself as responsible for the state of the Guyanese society. After two decades in power, it shaped the social environment of the nation.
To now blame discontented, poor, struggling Linden citizens, and to accuse an Opposition lacking real power or clout or visionary leadership, is a blatant act of deceit.
Government is responsible for the chaos of Linden, for the nasty state of Georgetown, for poor roads constructed by corrupt contractors, for severe corruption in the Police Force, the State media and other State agencies.
We cannot begin to heal our land of the curse of this rapid descent to lawlessness and barbaric behaviour unless Government takes responsibility for its dire failings.
Today in Linden, 850 children face a new school year starting in a couple weeks, uncertain of their future. Their families face extra hardship to find extra money for them to travel to other schools. Teachers face larger classrooms in the town.
The ripple effect of the burning of that school affects thousands and thousands of people directly – kids, parents, teachers. Such a horrible act also affects the psychological and emotional health of the nation.
To know deep in our national conscience that we are a people who would burn a school to ashes is to harbour a psychotic ugliness deep in the soul of our body politic. Such a feeling cannot be good.
We must guard against ever descending to such a state, ever again.
And the responsibility for this lies at the feet of the Government.
The Opposition seems so passive and inept at tackling Government’s strong-arm tactics and attitude.
After 28 years of rigged elections, the defining difference for our society in the early 1990’s was the forming of a civic group to bring about free and fair elections.
Sadly, two of the founding fathers of that group, in Prime Minister Sam Hinds and Labour Minister N. K. Gopaul, now form key elements of this hard-hearted Government.
It may be time for a few decent-minded citizen leaders to form a civic group to again transform this society, to forge unity, trust and goodwill across the walls that divide us as a people.
Such a group will benefit from Diaspora input, and may even offer a national strategy for the advance of our nation.
Some such initiative seems absolutely necessary at this point in our history.
In the face of Government not facing up to its responsibility to build a society of cohesive harmony, and given that the Opposition remains toothless and without real power or visionary leadership, citizens of heart and conscience must step up and play a new role.
Just like happened when we achieved free and fair elections in 1992, we must believe in ourselves as a people, that we are noble and of high standing. We must, on the civic level, make a move to transform our land.
We must believe and purpose in our heart to lift our nation to the noble heights of an outstanding people in the 21st century global village.
We must shake off the ugly shackles that anchor us in such a stupor, such a stagnant imprisonment, that we would cruelly burn a school where 850 of our children build their future.
For those 850 children, and our generation of tomorrow, to build a noble Guyanese nation of 21st century sophistication, we need responsible leadership: leadership that would see the education of our children as a sacred duty, not to be inflamed to ashes.