Today is preachy-sermon day. This brief is another perspective on my well-worn theme of the new morality/abandonment of acceptable, old-fashioned values and virtues.
Those interested would know my core observation and arguments: that reduced morality, increased poverty and need compromise even those once given to being upright law-abiding and religious; that thievery and corruption in the corridors of power set poor, appropriate examples and models for the under-privileged, even the greedy and the crooked to follow and use as rationale; that a cancer-like, but glossed-over disease of wrong-doing and illegality has become embedded in the society, where, today wrong has become right and where to point out wrong-doing is to ostracise yourself from your company who have long accepted the new status quo. (If you’re in need and you can’t beat them, join them.)
I’ve been going on about the “fear” and values instilled in me by my late grandmother (then my aunt), beginning 65 years ago.
I also now record my admiration for commentator GHK Lall who felt strong enough to analyse the scourge of local corruption in a full-length publication. As a re-migrant he was/is mighty perturbed over the evil he discovered amongst officialdom, even friends and family. (He even described Guyana as a “national cesspool…” which would have made the still-honest few among us wince.)
Today my perspective is on the wide range of ordinary persons who either engineered or succumbed to righteous wrong doing.
First, I must concede that there are still Guyanese citizens who eschew illegality, even just irregular practices. They find honest work, play, worship and assist others from clear resources, as they knew and learnt to do a few decades ago. They are, most likely, the employed poor, the salt of the earth, who, in today’s sleazy society, might even be recognized as unsung heroes!
Then there are our local success stories – acquisitions, comfort and academic achievements personified. But this admired and accepted success was built on the foundation – obvious or imperceptible – of mischief or exploitation of some kind.
These ‘role models’ span the spectrum of our society: the doctor who neglects public clinics to concentrate on private, lucrative, after-hours practice; the business man with Customs contacts and numerous shady deals; the customs officer with two SUVs after six months on the job; the police inspector who looks the other way – everyday; the pastor who commercialises duty-free concessions and visa connections; the CEO, board chairman or the military officer who routinely either ignores or manipulates the rules, regulation and protocols for personal, selfish gains; transgressions and violations for which junior and civilians would be penalised.
Their success leads to recognition and acceptance by their peers and the less well – off. And only a few bother to pretend to stand on any moral high ground. Such is the status of modern societies these days.
Corrupt and crooked…
I conclude with the three more observations: one, you would notice that, in my brief listing above, I omitted politicians and government officials. That’s because they speak and do for themselves. Recent scrutiny is exposing all. (Entertainers, sport executives, teachers, vendors, the small man, have all sinned and fallen short…)
Two, personal greed and corruption often begin in small ways: the favouritism when giving a close, loved one a job suitable for some more deserving applicant; pilfering small items at the office or factory; bending the longstanding procedure; rigging votes for some election or choice. When I prepared speakers briefs for PNC elections campaigns, we traced the evolution of simple, innocent irregular practices, through favouritism, discrimination, nepotism, thieving, cheating, pilfering, right up to corruption. The road to perdition begins with small steps.
Three, the question must be posed: how come GHK Lall, Fenty, Ram and a few others feel upright and righteous enough to condemn? Are they that honest and clean?
Speaking for myself, though I must admit to human frailty, I cannot think of any illegal, corrupt thing I’ve knowingly done compared to the personal and public mischief perpetrated daily. Can you?
Sparrow – and our living heroes
Our own Dave Martins has asked, in memorable song, “Where Are Your Heroes?” He and his Tradewinds wondered why the Caribbean does not recognise and celebrate our heroes more. The focus there was on departed achievers and models.
Last weekend Guyana and the wider musical world were plunged into some sadness and much reflection over reports that the Calypso King, the Mighty Sparrow (Dr Slinger Francisco) had passed away in New York, NY.
How we grieved and celebrated the “deceased”. Only that the good news was that it was all a premature, false alarm. As I write this, earlier in this week, the now legendary entertainer with ties to BG, is still among us.
But the local outpouring of emotion and appreciation again set me thinking: why don’t we honour our heroes more when they are alive?
Especially when they are in their senior-sometimes difficult-years? We here have accorded some accolades recently – Clive Lloyd, E.R. Braithwaite, some sportsmen and singers still with us.
So however hair-brained or improbable the following appears, I propose it still. Let us institute a National Heroes Recognition Day! (Remember Mr Jagdeo’s farewell at the National Stadium?) From around the globe let us bring home Lloyd, Kanhai, Gibbs, Kallicharran, Hugh Ross, Eddy Grant, Ramphal, to join Canary, Terrence Ali, Chanderpaul, Johnny Braff – you-all name a few others.
We then mount a grand national heroes encounter. You-all plan the event – annually or biennially. Funding? The Culture Ministry’s allocations 2014-2015. Discuss…
*1) From David Casavis’ Book – The Thomas Carroll Affair – on visa rackets and illegal immigration here: “There is an overall rate. When Thomas Carroll arrived it was sixty-five percent. That is to say that sixty-five percent of all applicants for visas will be turned down. Thirty-five percent will be approved.”
Surely things have “lightened-up” now? President Obama, US immigration and all …
*1b) Caricom Leaders convened in St Vincent last weekend to formulate proposals to demand reparations for slavery in the Caribbean. Most interesting is St Vincent’s articulation that the British should compensate for the consequences/under-development of slavery.
*2) The shooter at the Washington Navy Yard was arrested quite a few times. But never convicted! That status qualified him to be approved, accepted. America is a just society!?
*3) Are the latest Trinidadian investment proposals too good to be true?
‘Til next week!