Giving dialogue at least a chance

If ever a country needed more civility in the discourse conducted between its political and other leaders it is Guyana now. The level of virulence, the lack of magnanimity, the bitterness of exchanges, the presumption of enmity on the other side by each side is astounding. Hackles rise at the slightest hint of provocation or indeed with no excuse whatsoever. Tempers fray at the drop of a misplaced word.

Consider the life and work of the Russian Anton Chekhov. At a time like this it is good to consider the life of one of the most sensible, open-minded and civilized men who ever lived. Anton Chekhov, born in 1860, became a doctor and practised his profession devotedly. But he also turned himself into one of Russia’s greatest writers. In a wonderfully creative life of only 44 years he was able to divide his time between “Medicine … my lawful wife and literature… my mistress.” He wrote perfect short stories of shining lucidity and his plays – the celebrated Uncle Vanya, The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard amongst others – revolutionized the theatre of his day and have provided succeeding generations with vivid insights into how men and women love and hate and suffer and exult when living even the most ordinary and uneventful lives: “People,” he pointed out, “eat their dinner, just eat their dinner, and in the meantime their happiness is taking shape or their lives are being destroyed.”

As a doctor Chekhov tended thousands of peasants in a clinic on his estate, planned and helped build schools, endowed libraries, and scraped together money and support for a multitude of other causes. This first hand involvement with day-to-day practicalities made him scornful of all-or-nothing recipes for universal salvation. He was …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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