Living in this country could be such a beautiful experience.

The natural environment of breezy warmth, the sunny weather bathed in lush tropical rains, the leafy greenery and fertile land – these offer a lifestyle of tranquil beauty, of a quietude of the soul.

With such simple things as an open-concept house that allows the fresh breeze to flow through, and with yard space to plant vegetable and fruit trees, and a rain-filled fish pond, life could be such a paradise experience.

What a luxurious sense of calm and tranquil peace one feels lying in a hammock under coconut trees gently rocking back and forth reading literature. What a lovely sense of organic living to see a pot of cook-up or provision soup boil on a wood-burning “fireside”.

The simple life is best.

This kind of lifestyle exists all along the Berbice and Essequibo coasts, and in many rural communities.

In farmlands all across the coast, people plant rice, sugarcane and fruits and vegetables on vast acres of fertile land. Cattle farms along the Abary and Mahaica rivers look so pastoral.

The spectacular brown calmness of canoe-traversed river communities in Pomeroon, Mabaruma, Moruca, the Waini region, and the vast savannah of the Rupununi, all blend into such a blessing.

People who know the mountainous region talk of its amazing splendour – how astonishing is the sight.

At nights the land across the country lights up under the brilliant starry heavens, and last weekend saw four straight nights of a full moon that bathed the land in a pleasant silvery magic.

Yet, the Guyanese nation is yet to come to a place of appreciating this wondrous beauty of their homeland, truly a paradise on the earth.

Despite the state of urban communities, with shanty-towns within Georgetown, with the awful nasty water that flows through taps from the Guyana Water Inc, with garbage disfiguring the aesthetics of the once Garden City, with clogged drains and the coarse street talk and a people anxious to migrate – despite all that – Guyana offers its citizens a blessed land.

People here have never experienced a deadly natural disaster, or wars, or political coups like in neighbouring Suriname, Venezuela, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago. Across this blessed landscape, people have always lived in calm and peace, except for the aberration of the 1960’s racial conflict.

It’s enough for Guyanese to be thankful for and to feel a sense of responsibility for the rise of our nation.

Yet, across the land people lack such an attitude.

Of course, the country battles with serious governance problems, and each day the tragic crisis of organized crime, State corruption and a dictatorial constitution eats away at the nation’s potential to play its rightful role in the 21st century global village.

In fact, across the country Guyanese retreat into a deadly apathy, a resigned lukewarm inaction that stifles any chance of the Guyana Dream becoming real.

Leaders fail to inspire people with that sense of national fervour, with that inner belief in the dream of a nation contributing its natural wealth and rugged charm to the world stage.

So people live in this paradise of a country feeling like a fog of failure; a cloud of apathy blinding them to any vision of a great future.

A nation anticipates certain ways to achieve a national vision: either great, charismatic leaders arising every generation to inspire the people to look up and do the hard work of building the national dream into reality, or people individually taking responsibility to see the nation as their own.

Guyana in 2011 seems to lack both these prerequisites for transforming its blessings and its natural gifts into assets the people could embrace as their common wealth.
The Guyanese nation could be such a wealthy place on the world stage.

But in the absence of leaders who inspire people all across the landscape to live with vision, what’s to be done?

First, we need to build a way of talking among ourselves that fosters inspired living. Conversations tell a lot. The kind of talk we hear in the national media, in social settings, in schools and homes and Parliament and even on the street says a lot.

We cannot develop this nation without intellectual effort. We have to become a people who read English Literature, a people who understand the mindset that fuels development. And if we measure development as the Western world has defined it, then we need to heed the call of V. S. Naipaul, our Nobel Prize winning premier Caribbean thinker, to become a thinking, conscious people, aware of who we are, where we are and where we want to go.

So, each of us ought to strive to cultivate the kind of conversation that flows out of our sense of responsibility. Beating in the heart of each Guyanese ought to be this desire and belief – for the nation to achieve its great potential.

We should each feel that sense of responsibility for Guyana’s future.

It seems the leaders cannot inspire the people to come together as a Guyanese nation. So we each ought to take on the task. Each of us needs to cultivate a thinking life about the way forward.

We think about the country, and then take on the responsibility to make it happen.

Even if it’s a simple project in our local community, or an innovative idea, or to challenge some bureaucrat or a corrupt official – whatever it is that catches our passion and zeal – we have to step up and take on that feeling of being responsible for the destiny of our nation, our land and our people.

When we look around the country, when we open our eyes and see how blessed we are as a people, in a land of such spectacular glory, we ought to square our shoulders, face each other and authentically talk about how we could play a responsible role to make the vision happen.

The onus is on each Guyanese to make a difference. And we must see this, and feel it in our bones, even as we enjoy the beauty of the land God has blessed us to live in.

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