On fifth anniversary, farewell

We now mark the fifth anniversary of this column in this exemplary, nation-defining newspaper, and it’s been an inspiring, beautiful journey.

Now it’s time to play a different role in our goal to bring about a transformation of the media landscape in our beautiful homeland.

In a democracy, media make the difference. We want to see a national media landscape that puts the citizen first, that, with ethical professionalism and a sound sense of responsibility, works for Guyanese to love their nation, where each person wakes up to feel inspired, motivated, excited about setting out on a new day walking this blessed landscape, loving our homeland.

Cognizant of the many readers who loved this column, who championed its cause, who enjoyed the writing style and the different perspective, we also recognize those we may have offended, including vociferous critics who felt an overseas-based Guyanese should not write a column in the local media.

20130912shaunOver the years, we’ve strived for two things in this noble space that Stabroek News so graciously provided. First, we sought to look at the broader picture, never allowing the issue du jour to shape how we see and feel. And second, we’ve searched out solutions, refusing to worship the national ethos of negativity, complaining and scapegoating.

In that quest for solutions, we’ve found inspiration, motivation and a defining dream, a new way of being for the Guyanese nation. Emanating from the writing of this column, from this partnership with Stabroek News, a new paradigm emerged, over the course of this journey. We looked not to cast blame, but to deal with the factual history of our nation: why we got where we are today, why we find it so difficult to achieve the Guyana Dream. Out of this inspiring way to look at our Guyanese nation, we sought one single thing: the common denominator of why we’re where we’re at today.

And the common denominator that emerged is that the Guyanese nation suffers from the alarming brain drain, from a crippling national crisis of illiteracy. Every national problem sprouts from this wild seed.

Journalism should make a difference in a democracy. Like the democratic culture itself, Journalism is organic, alive, constantly evolving new insights and revealing new solutions on how society moves forward. So once we saw that illiteracy is the foundational problem, we set out to collaborate, partner and cooperate with all national forces to see the national media become the platform for a literacy solution. That slow process is what defines this effort.

From the outset, we adopted this proactive role in this column; that it should contribute to the nation, not just provide a platform for the sole voice of the writer to express personal opinions and views.

The philosophy that profoundly informed this column’s approach to the Guyanese society flows from the great French thinker Rene Girard, whose ‘scapegoating’ theory is a transforming way of looking at society, at Mankind, in this 21st century of consensual thought, of consilience, of the search for multiculturalism and togetherness. In this column, we sought to adopt that outlook, to contribute to the collapsing of walls of divides that have crippled us, for upwards of 50 years now. We would only move forward when we tear down the walls of divisions that seem so firmly erected in our mentality, in our presuppositions of how we see and feel as Guyanese.

Guyanese suffer from a debilitating emotionalism. A sort of irrational reactionism, an instinctive attack mode, flows from that grotesque national illiteracy. We look at the issues of the day with emotional reaction, instead of seeing rational, proactive solutions. We react, instead of seeing solutions. We see problems, instead of feeling the pulsing aliveness of the Guyanese heartbeat, of understanding each other’s pain and triumphs.

Over the years, in this space, we’ve proposed a new way of being, advocating consilience, design-thinking, and for the national media to focus on inspiring the Guyanese citizen to live for creative solutions, to generate local community projects, and for development to be a ground-up approach, rather than a top-down, Central Government-controlled system.

Another ground-breaking idea that emerged from exploring the Guyanese society in this space is the fact that we’re now a global people, spread out across the 21st century global village. Guyana is but the homeland of a vast, far-flung nation, with Guyanese citizens contributing our astonishing potential to global humanity. Rich in talent, work ethic, intelligence and human capital, Guyanese stand tall on the world stage. And it’s only time before the homeland becomes a beautiful gem on the global stage. It’s our destiny, it’s our fate, it’s our heart’s desire. And we’re overcoming the obstacles, we’re advancing, we’re creating the space for us to play our role in the purpose of 21st century Mankind.

These thoughts underlined how we approached contributing to the Guyanese nation.

And it’s only natural that we explored these thoughts in the Stabroek News. This newspaper’s historical role in the Guyanese nation is exemplary. It’s been an amazing honour and a great privilege to reconnect with Stabroek News after a 20+ year break. When this column started, it flowed from a relationship that began way back in 1988, interspersed with several breaks, like this one.

The role of David de Caires, in shaping Guyanese history through the Stabroek News, lies close to this writer’s own heart. Those early years of mentoring, of learning to look at life and feeling humanity’s pulse, as a young media person at a young Stabroek News, shaped the eventual contribution of this column to the nation.

The future is about developing a global digital media platform that connects Guyanese across the seas and continents. The future is about building consensus, togetherness and a common way of seeing and feeling the Guyanese pulse. The future is about generating a new voice for Guyanese that overcomes this national habit of scapegoating each other.

We hope that this column would have contributed to the awakening of our consciousness from that state of unconsciousness that V. S. Naipaul discovered cripples our social transformation.

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