How do we nurture this society to be the best place for Guyanese to spend their days, to call home?

Most Guyanese feel they could be way happier anywhere else but in their homeland. The migration line never seems to dwindle.

In this elections season, very few people could be satisfied with the way we conduct our public discourse.

Does anyone here aspire to be a great statesman anymore?

Both Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan aspired to be the best, to make a mark in the world.

This nation has lost that kind of leadership.

Our political campaigns descend into debauched behaviour, with even the President gyrating to lewd lyrics.

Videos and posts proliferate on the Internet on social media sites of politicians behaving badly on the campaign platform.

The gyrating dancing and ghetto chutney and lewd hip hop generate public frenzy. If this is supposed to translate to popular votes, then our democracy is in a serious moral dilemma.

It’s one thing to appeal to the mass consciousness to garner votes. It’s quite another to pander to the base and ugly aspects of human nature to cajole mass action.

In fact, this sort of public entertainment that passes for campaign rallies numbs the masses, and makes people passive and unthinking.

The independent media fills the gap with critical analysis of the policies and actions that govern the society.

But, these gyrating mass parties, comprising thousands of people under the influence of the crowd mentality, descend into further debauchery with the leaders delving into severe verbal attacks against independent thought.

This country has come a far way from the 1980’s in terms of the operation of private media. We have four daily newspapers, several news websites and a number of TV stations operating.

And this freedom of the media comes wrapped up with self-regulated responsibility.

The one outstanding flag in how professional media should operate is the Stabroek News. Since its inception, this newspaper has placed journalistic ethics as its foundation principle. It exercises this right with a sacred sense of responsibility. There is a classy restraint in how this newspaper reports.

The result is that it remains the most respected national media in this country.

The rest of the media ought to take a page out of this newspaper’s policy of responsible journalism and ethical public reporting.

The leaders of this country, along with the national media, define the national conversation.

And if we foist untrained, biased and unethical reporters on the society through unprofessional media outfits that care more for profits than public service, we fail as the national voice of the body politic.

In the same breath, if our leaders lash out at irresponsible reporting in some sections of the media, with quite a hypocritical stance, then we face a twin failure.

Government leaders remain shockingly silent about the monopolizing of the State media, especially in this elections season, but castigate private media failures.

Except for the Stabroek News, Demerara Waves and Prime News on TV, the media fails to lift the national conversation to build a noble, thinking society.

And the leaders, especially Government functionaries, fail to bring decency, dialogue and depth to the national conversation.

The 2011 national elections offers us the opportunity to dialogue among ourselves, to build and nurture a national conversation about where we go as a nation.

Instead, we see leaders verbally lashing out at each other, without ever acknowledging that the opposing side may have some merit.

Democracy, with its competition for the popular vote, does not have to pander to the base instincts of human nature. Our nation must be in a very poor state of character to have to descend to the levels we are seeing, just to win votes.

What do these leaders think of their voters if they throw public decency out the window, and pamper people’s base instincts?

If we cannot learn to talk to each other among ourselves, we become beast-like, and pander to the herd instincts. Do we want that?

In this elections, led by the inspiring work of Raphael Trotman and Khemraj Ramjattan in the Alliance For Change, the national leaders always refer to building national unity, to working together in the nation’s interest, and to seeking consensus and dialogue.

Yet, these same leaders jump on the public campaign platform and cuss each other out, and lash out in verbal wars.

The national conversation must follow the intent of the heart. We have to move from this grab mentality, of lusting for political power. We must serve with a selfless heart, caring more for the people listening to us than for what we want from them.

The national conversation in this elections should be one of magnanimous optimism, sincere reaching out across the political divide, and genuine public actions of embracing each other.

Would it hurt to have opposing Presidential candidates appear together on one platform to address the nation?

What a message of hope and optimism and inspiring leadership would the nation receive were the leaders to stand together and denounce poverty, corruption, poor governance and the breakdown of national institutions?

Yet, there is hope. President Jagdeo and Raphael Trotman embraced publicly on stage at the National Park only a few months ago. They pledged to each other a renewed relationship, based on forgiveness and reconciliation and healing.

This spirit is missing on the campaign platforms of this elections season. And the atmosphere is so poisoned that Government official Gail Teixeira issued a statement warning that a Rwanda-like situation of public incitement of violence could be brewing.

While Teixeira stubbornly refused to address the Government’s stifling hold on the State media in her statement, her warning must be taken seriously.

For how the leaders, and the media, define the public discourse defines how we nurture this society.

We must shun violent verbiage and embrace nurturing words in our national conversation.

Guyanese want a homeland where they feel nurtured, cared for and secure. The way we talk to each other in our national conversation defines the social space.

Is our public talk nurturing an embracing homeland, or fuelling a dysfunctional Guyanese nation?

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