We take our own sweet time to solve the problems that beset us, unnecessarily dragging out the development of this nation, and the fulfilling of the potential inherent in the Guyanese soul.
The national crisis we now face, in that awful lack of Local Government Elections, the frightening delays in passing the Anti-Money Laundering Bill and the sloth in establishment of the Procurement Commission, makes up the latest in a whole history of us taking our time to get things done.
We forget these things, but we took a mammoth 28 years to achieve free and fair elections and opening up the Guyanese society; a sickening 34 years to establish a Commission to inquire into the political controversy over the death of Dr Walter Rodney; and, most devastating of all, a crass 61 years without solving the divide that split us into adversarial camps since 1953 when Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan parted political ways.
That defining moment, of these two personalities not being able to work together, defines us as a nation to this day.
In all this time, to our credit, we persevered as a nation, always harbouring among us people and organizations fighting through the debris of things falling apart, to exercise good conscience, sensible leadership, and sacrificial belief in the Guyanese nation, hanging on to the notion that we could get our act together.
Dr Cheddi Jagan’s long battle for free and fair elections; the bitter fight of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) for democracy and good governance, with its tireless leaders Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Eusi Kwayana, Dr Clive Thomas, all still very much a part of the Guyanese society today; the heroic work of David de Caires to establish a free, independent, professional national media landscape, despite the State media’s continued unprofessionalism; Desmond Hoyte’s economic reforms; the voices of several private citizens and organizations like the women’s group Red Thread, all show we never give up, always believing we’ll get there one day.
But generations pass, and now the new 21st century is upon us in a most decisive way, with the global Knowledge Society demanding that we get our act together.
We cannot continue to slack off and take our time solving the crisis that beset us.
We know the problems that stifle us, but we maintain a national poise of strife, acrimony and verbal clashes, running on now for six decades.
We suffer from a terrible lack of workability, where efforts to collaborate, cooperate and come together all too frequently provoke flared emotions, with one side accusing those who are open for an embracing synergy across the society of disloyalty.
We suffer from this lack of workability, because we see shadows, suspicions, shady undercurrents in the actions of those we see as opponents. So we’ve become a society filled with prejudice, bias, distrust and suspicion.
How could we possibly build the Guyanese nation into a 21st century society if we keep closed off in our own corner, refusing to see any good in working with those we may not agree with?
If the Government and the leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, cannot agree on the terms of the Procurement Commission, who suffers? Whilst each “side” holds out for its demand to be met, the nation suffers enormous socio-economic damage.
President Donald Ramotar has said he wants the Procurement Commission established, and has agreed to such, and Mr Ramjattan wants the “no objection” clause removed. This single point, hanging precariously on two words, sees unworkability at play, to the sad detriment of the citizens of this nation.
That dispute fuels the international crisis now damaging this country, whereby the Anti-Money Laundering Bill gets snagged at Parliament.
Where are we going as a nation? The fact is, most citizens are confident, optimistic, that these crisis will be solved, but the long time to get these done is causing such stress, depression and economic difficulty for the average citizen. This is unnecessary in the extreme.
We must learn the essential life skill of working together to solve our problems. We cannot continue this 61-year-old dysfunction in our national character, this handicap of the body politic that is fuelling the divide that sits as a solid wedge between us, unnecessarily stagnating us.
The world now moves at lightning speed, with global communications technology and the global economy not waiting for nations that drag their feet on important matters.
The average Guyanese citizen, both in the homeland and in the Diaspora, expresses dismay and shock that we cannot get our act together, that we take so long to develop our potential. Citizens express disdain against our leaders who seem unable to agree on simple things to get us moving along.
Instead the leaders scapegoat and blame each other, to the extent that this scapegoating spirit infects the national population, and we’ve become a people constantly complaining, finding ulterior motive in the actions of the “other”.
Generating solutions, such as, for example, solving the national crisis of literacy that stifles young people across this society, this must become our most important motive. We must put everything else in the background, and focus, focus on solutions, solutions.
This means we must learn to work together, to trust each other, to overlook our human weaknesses and those foibles of human nature, to extend our hands and hearts in goodwill.
This takes effort, sacrifice, a new deliberate exercise of the mental and emotional will, from us all in this society. Our leaders, our fellow citizens, our Journalists and engineers and teachers and nurses and everyone, must learn to work together.
We absolutely must erase those 61 years of our history, where we developed a national habit, where we cultivated the dysfunctional national psyche of scapegoating and blaming each other, to the point where we’ve now constructed a social space that has become frustratingly unworkable.
When we look around us today, we see pressing, critically important national issues on the shelf, waiting for action and resolution. In the meantime, those with the responsibility to get things done for the Guyanese nation to develop and move forward, sit around complaining, scapegoating and blaming each other.