Our nation faces crucial, crushing problems, and the only way out demands that citizens of good conscience and sound mind work at designing solutions.
Instead of throwing tantrums, snarling angry words, or becoming upset and irrational, we need to start dealing with each other, and with our national affairs, with a sober mind, a sound temperament, and a wise understanding.
This new way of seeing ourselves, as sensible designers of solutions, rather than quarrelling kids, calls for fundamental re-alignment of how we see ourselves, a complete transformation of our self-image.
Engineering solutions to even the top three problems we face – fixing our crisis in human resource capital; strengthening our democratic institutions so citizens play a solid role in the body politic; repairing the broken justice system – demands that we build a new, radical platform of engagement, to tackle national affairs.
For 48 years now, since political independence, we bicker and fight and brawl and snarl at each other in acidic acrimony and bitter strife.
In the process, we stifle and suffocate the potential of greatness beating in the heart of the Guyanese nation. Our harsh cussing verbal battles against each other, spanning the gamut of Parliament, Bourda Market and the fish Market at Parika Stelling, demeans our humanity. We feel battered, with a serious inferiority complex, with our humane dignity eroded, with our sense of self-worth damaged beyond words.
This leaves us where we are today – a nation hanging our heads in shame on the global 21st century world stage.
Even as our fellow citizens excel all over the world in the global Diaspora, we at home must put up with a national culture of verbal battery, constant, unending, nonstop.
Those three crucial challenges – our devastating brain drain; our gutted law enforcement; our skeletal democracy – cause the Guyanese citizen to suffer social trauma, unable to play his or her rightful role in the society. The common citizen feels shut out, disempowered, unable to make an impact on the society.
How could we engineer solutions?
The Guyana Dream, that inspiring spirit that drove the passionate patriotism of our co-founders, Dr Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham, fades in misery as we fail to engineer solutions.
In the face of our political failures, we the citizens must engineer workable solutions.
How do we go about this?
Solutions to our many challenges could easily be entrepreneurial in nature. An inspiring new trend in the developed world is social entrepreneurship, where leaders take on a problem facing the community and engineer a solution that not only becomes a business, but makes a dynamic social contribution to the community.
Here in Guyana, we lack fundamental insight to make things happen this way. We lack the insight to become a people of vision, innovative solutions, and new thinking.
Even at the University of Guyana, trying to get leaders to see innovation, even in things techie, as the way to go, produces confused stubborn adherence to the old ways.
What does it take to engineer workable solutions?
It takes, of course, visionaries, citizens among us gifted with powerful insight, who could foresee, plan, write and design a new future for us.
We had this in Burnham and Jagan, both of whom embraced powerful visions for the Guyanese nation, as they outlined in books, speeches and passionate living.
One significant exercise that would illuminate the way forward would be to explore why Jagan and Burnham failed in their visions.
The answer informs us of the challenging task facing us today.
Both these leaders, and also Dr Walter Rodney, failed to develop a solid team that could execute their visions. After both Burnham and Jagan died, their visions, their ideals, their dreams, collapsed. The same thing happened with Rodney.
For us to move forward, we need to build teams of committed, responsible, competent men and women around our visionaries and our leaders.
In the group, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), in the Alliance For Change (AFC), in the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP), and also in civic society, we must come around the men and women of good conscience who dare to step up to the plate to lead us.
Around Brigadier David Granger, a leader of poise and sensible professionalism; around Khemraj Ramjattan and Raphael Trotman and Moses Nagamootoo of the AFC, all men of courage and deep commitment to a new Guyanese political landscape; around leaders like Gail Teixeira and others in the PPP, we do not see a competent, committed, core team of soldiers forming.
These leaders almost end up fighting lone battles, with token effort from those around them.
Because a political solution is fundamental to our future as a nation, we must engineer this team spirit in our political movements.
But the real challenge lies with civic society, where we see leaders like Faith Harding, Eric Phillips, Ralph Ramkarran, Anand Goolsarran, Clive Thomas and Henry Jeffrey act with good conscience and sensible professionalism.
The onus rests with these leaders to build solid teams around themselves, to enrol others into their ideas, as they push for progress, campaign for reforms and dedicate themselves to a future Guyanese nation that rises to its true potential in the community of 21st century nations.
Our society suffered enough from this fracturing of the citizenry, where we see each other across divides. In the ‘60s it devastated the nation, with a large chunk of the middle and upper-middle class and the intelligentsia packing up and leaving, fearful of political independence and of the social rhetoric of the times. That triggered a crisis brain drain.
Today, we must begin the real process of re-building our social bridges, repairing the fractures that have yawned wide for so many decades, regain our sense of nationhood that burned in our hearts in the 1950s, when Burnham and Jagan formed the People’s Progressive Party and demanded social justice in a toiling British colony.
We must sacrifice our juvenile distrust and petty insecurities about each other, and form professional teams around our visionaries.
It’s the only way to solve our monumental problems as a society.