Every year the head of state, government, the opposition, political parties, and trade unions, business houses, etc, send out Dipavali messages to the Hindu community and the nation as a whole. Dipavali is a national holiday, for better or worse. So it is encouraging to see this level of participation and respect for this very sacred Hindu festival.
However, I have a humble request of all concerned. Please do not use this occasion, or any other religious occasion for that matter, to attack one another. If Dipavali represents the goodwill and sharing that all speak about then our messages should show more generosity and charity of attitudes.
Yes, we cannot separate religion and politics. The Hindu notion of Dharma encompasses politics, government, economy, ethics, law and spirituality among other vital values and dimensions of human life. But there is no need to use Dipavali to take swipes at one another. Let us reach out with open hands rather than clenched fists.
We have all witnessed the conclusion of the US presidential elections and the magnanimity shown both by the incumbent President Obama and his challenger Governor Mitt Romney. In spite of all the harsh and ugly things, sometimes verging on open racist remarks, expressed in the campaigns, both men showed remarkable maturity and extended the hand to each other. This is a useful lesson for our leaders.
All ethnic, religious and political groups in our country have a vested interest in our progress and stability, and no one should consider it their sole monopoly, to the exclusion of others. We may have different visions for Guyana and espouse different paths to get to the goal but our country’s ultimate good is what we should not lose sight of. We may be opponents but not enemies.
In this regard I have a special word for our nation’s youngest political party – the AFC – and especially its three young and brilliant leaders. They are the next generation of political leaders and some day this country may entrust the responsibilities of government in their hands. Of recent they have shown an uncompromising intransigence, the very thing they accuse others of. They seem to believe in a scorched earth policy leaving no room for the other side to extend any sign of conciliation.
Let us use this occasion of Dipavali to search our conscience, remembering that our country’s future is at stake. We must believe that each person is inherently endowed with a well of goodness. Strange as it may seem, when some people are calling for conflict and encouraging and precipitating crisis, the challenge is for us to so open ourselves in such a way that even our opponent will not fail to find the good that is present in us.