Struggling with my pride and patriotism
As one born within these Guyana borders who decided to let family go (most reluctantly) and live all my life here where I even have the outline of my own final farewell service to take place in Georgetown, I know I have a right to criticize and lament what my only native land has become. I know that many, often more “comfortable”, choose not to be negative over what they love. But I get more impatient as I experience stress and fatigue every day.
Sam Cooke, the late American balladeer sang of “accentuating the positive” and “eliminating the negative”. Guyanese Dave Martin writes that others must not rush to criticize Guyana and Guyanese until “they” put their house in order. Well I’m not “they”. I want to write about the good and greatness of my Guyana, but I have a conscience — and most of my senses intact.
So as I choose to describe what is still good about my dear homeland of Guyana, I can’t ignore the BAD that stares me in the face every God-given day. Let me get them out of the way.
Lady Guyana is very ill
Guyana is sick today. And yes, sickening. I know the socio-economic disease is universal. I’ll listen to what’s happening in the USA, Jamaica and Trinidad, but Guyana is my patient who did not need to get to this stage of deterioration. What do I find every waiting day? Pardon the litany.
The Blackouts of electricity gets to all – citizens and businesses. (In this the 21st century!) There are the front-page miseries – disease, traffic accidents, fires and crime – crime in all its dimensions. The utilities offer “sorry-for-inconvenience-caused” after daily water and telephone woes. The magistracy/judiciary is overworked and, like the beleaguered Police Force, tends not to be trusted. (I have an open mind in terms of the thinking of judges and magistrates, mind you.) And from public scandals, to alleged bit-time sweetheart deals, to a national disgrace that is a capital-city cemetery, to rampant unemployment and a stink Georgetown, the poor working-class Guyanese citizen is confronted by stress, stress, stress and challenge.
Frankly Speaking, my patriotic pride is under strain. I am hard put to be genuinely proud of governance here, of national leaders and leadership, of my quality of life. I am a patriot always, in the presence of foreigners.
I defend Guyana but I cannot condone comparisons with what’s bad and unacceptable elsewhere. (“The English football fans are most rowdy and/or transportation is chaos in Trinidad.”) We must set and sustain our own standards. How we fix a very sick society is beyond an over- 60 like me. Partly because wrongdoing is the norm and younger folk see immorality and illegality all round them, making wrong become right. I strain as I strive to look for the good in my Guyana.
Still good in Guyana
The weather we enjoy all year round is good to us. When we don’t prepare our sea-defences, our drainage and our capital city, we can’t blame the weather. I give thanks that we are hurricane, tornado and earthquake free.
We still “embrace our diversity” as we eat, play, pray and work together. That cannot happen in Ireland, Iraqi or parts of India. The areas of Health Care and Education, despite enormous challenges are struggling to deliver. The wait could be long but in spite of the stress our students perform (elsewhere) and we tackle international health issues head on. Even in our illiteracy and ignorance, I think Guyana still hold their own, as creativity emerges from necessity.
Our Amerindian population is treated a little better than Indigenous groups elsewhere on this continent. Though squatting is an unwanted presence, Guyana has land to afford its people good housing. It’s up to “the authorities” to put good, fair housing systems in place.
Foreign investments can take hold here still – if the environment is made friendly and fair for all. To me the government should send trade missions searching for investors for specific large-scale projects. But who am I?
Yes! I have strained to find the good things, it‘s true. I won’t mention the Brazilian initiatives. I’ll overlook the good positive determination of our under-resourced sportsmen and women. I salute those. But tell me, should I look on the front and other pages of this newspaper to find Guyana’s good news?
I don’t think so, but all I can ever be is a silently proud, senior son of Guyana. (Whatever the politicians and criminals do to it!)
● 1) I pray that the millions expended on GuyExpo result in significantly improved manufacturing and exports!
● 2) Quote of the week – from Christopher Ram: “That the PPP/C, a self described working – class party, is prepared to divert the taxes paid by the working-class, to these who already have”. Discuss.
● 3) Could a just-beaten England win the ICC Champions Trophy?
‘Til Next Week!