Imagine that you are giving a speech to a group of leaders on a tragedy that took place, and while you are talking, most of them are texting, or are on their iPads or laptops. What would you think about them? Would you consider them leaders? Would you believe that they cared about what you were discussing? Would you consider them compassionate?
Well, imagine no more, this was one of my experiences during a visit to the National Assembly in Guyana. Mr Granger was speaking to the National Assembly on the need to have a commission of inquiry into the deaths of three infants and the fact that 500 people had fallen sick in Region One. As he spoke eloquently and compassionately about the tragedy, I saw many MPs from the government and opposition, as well as ministers on their iPads, laptops, or cell phones.
What I saw made me ask, how can some of these leaders feel compassion for the families of the victims, when they do not even pay attention during the speech? Furthermore, is what they were doing on the phone, computer, or iPad, more important than the death of three children?
Ironically, as I sat in the National Assembly, three of my own teenage children were with me, listening and paying more attention than some of the MPs and ministers, I couldn’t help feeling sad and angry. I felt sad because I wondered what it would take for some of these leaders to get off the iPad, phone, or computer and listen attentively and show compassion when three children had died. How many children have to die for them to listen? What would it take to awaken the conscience of these leaders to compassion for the families of the victims? Do these leaders even have a conscience? In my opinion, the fact that three children died wasn’t the great tragedy; the greater tragedy was that some of the MPs and ministers didn’t care to hear about the tragedy and ultimately don’t care about what happens to the children in Region One.