‘Please stay, don’t go’

Dear Editor,

I refer to SN’s editorial titled ‘Diaspora’ of October 5th instant, to offer the following comments. They are harsh, but as lived here.

I am one of meagre handful from the diaspora who returned to share, to help. President Ramotar did not invite me; if he has his way, I could be unceremoniously disinvited. But here I am. My people think I am crazy to be here; sometimes I agree with them. I used to encourage others to come back, to go home and give. No more. Instead, I advise those who ask to think again, to stay where they are. I tell young Guyanese to go, go somewhere else and follow their star. It hurts, but it is what I do. Why do I do so?

First, there is the low, ugly, hopeless nature of domestic politics; this is the quintessential indicator of the dirtiness that prevails, and which is embraced. It has not advanced in 60 years; the indications are that it will be the same, if not worse, in the next sixty. Just look and listen.

Second, there is the near total lack of standards and ethics in the national character. It is where many are on the take, and others long to be taken. The soul of the scorpion is omnipresent, all-encompassing; it is poisonous, contagious, and lethal.

Third, there is the pervasive presence of narcotics and money laundering; for a long time now, it has been the nation’s biggest business, and perhaps the only real one. And with the existence of these local evils, come the corruption, violence, and devastation of individuals, institutions, and communities. There is still the potential for more growth. Rulers are powerless; they are content to cash in and to stay relevant.

Fourth, aspiring returnees can forget about volunteering skills and experience. Not wanted. Not here. They will run into the steel wall of the local mindset that is ensconced intractably in mediocrity and fear. It is the fear of unskilled, untutored, and unexposed natives who feel threatened and apprehensive that their game might be up, and that they could be sidelined or overwhelmed, or revealed for who they really are; of how much they lack and how prehistoric they just might be. Since there is no acquaintance with the altruistic, suspicion and resistance reign. This is true whether the world involves the social, the church, the educational, or much more.

Fifth, every segment, every layer, every area in this country exhibits a terrible embedded sickness in how we deal with each other through the proximity of business or the passage of the day. It could be dog breeding or church going or alms giving, but it is there to capture and amplify the vindictive, vicious, and disingenuous characteristics long associated with our sick politics.

Veteran citizens, learned citizens who have lived here all their lives are firm in the belief that this society is too far gone to be salvaged; it is past the point of return. I agree. After 34 years with a paralyzing national constitution, individual ones have dissipated into dereliction and the desultory.

Thus, those of us who lived 16-18 hour working days for years, if not decades, have neither interest nor tolerance for this culture of living, this crisis of existence. Why return to live in the mental equivalent of a hole? Why go back to socialize in a dive that pretends to be a penthouse? Why spend hard earned silver during golden years in a dark morass of clinging mud, mass madness, and environmental mayhem? Why?

To the diaspora I regret this, but I must say as that song from long ago did: Please stay. Don’t go.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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