We launch this new year, well into the second decade of the 21st century, with tremendous challenges facing us.

Guyanese around the world woke up to the new year with a picture of President Donald Ramotar gone viral across the globe. Shocked and speechless, Guyanese en mass felt disappointment, despair and deep sadness at what the picture represents.

Recalling grotesque images of former President Bharrat Jagdeo ‘backballin’ on stage with lewd women in a disgusting display of public indecency and disrespect for the nation, the Ramotar picture shows the  President locked in a depraved gyrating dance with a woman, akin to the Jagdeo debacle.

Ways of looking and feelingGuyanese everywhere felt disgust, and vented openly on social media, expressing their dismay and disgust that our nation could stoop so low.

Ours is not a nation from whose leaders we hear inspiring words, eloquent speeches to start a new year, or noble thoughts of literary depth. Instead, we see the basest of instincts displayed for the world to see, with a bland disregard for inspired leadership.

None of the Government Ministers dared to speak out against the presidential indecency. In fact, the President’s wife, Deolatchmee Ramotar, came out in defence of the shocking depravity, telling an online news site that she sees no problems with her husband gyrating in suggestive fashion with a strange woman at a party at a city hotel, when she was not there with him.

We face challenges of all sorts this year: strengthening our democratic institutions; freeing the State media of Government strangulation; developing a sound literacy strategy; breaking the paralysing gridlock at Parliament; curbing corruption; generating cooperation rather than strife; empowering ourselves as citizens at local government level.

But our greatest challenge may be this absolute necessity to lift ourselves out of a social abyss where the society suffers from the basest instincts of human nature. Our children grow up in this generation hearing loud nasty cussing in public places, we solve disputes with resort to physical and verbal violence of the most despicable sort, and we insist on being a people of low intellectual effort.

How do we lift ourselves to be an inspiring nation? How do we walk tall on the world stage, and inculcate global respect for the Guyanese nation, rather than scorn and shame?

Our leaders fail to inspire us, to lift us to a noble stage where our thinking, our public spaces, our talk, our families, our schools and national institutions all reflect a thinking people, a people of a literary soul, a nation of a beautiful mind.

Our society falls apart, in a social quagmire that reflects a depraved mental state. And, shamefully, the graphic metaphor for this falling apart happens to be the viral picture of the President of the Guyanese nation gyrating in a lewd ‘backball’ act for the world to see.

Our culture, our sense of refined public behaviour, our inner values, our ethics and morals and spiritual state as a nation all feel so clumsy after seeing such a picture, of such a figure as our President, in such a lewd act. So this is how the nation starts 2014.

But we don’t want it to continue like that. We must lift ourselves out of this deepening social rut.

We each must take responsibility to lift the nation up. We the citizens can, and indeed must, inspire the rest of the nation with our words, actions, solution generation, and ability to improve, grow and self-develop.

We cannot remain where we were last year, or settle into a routine that sees our Garden City fall into a garbage-filled stench. We must think innovation, and creatively look at our current condition with a commitment to generating solutions, growth, development and world class performance.

We always look to politicians to solve our societal issues. But they continue to fail us, even as they enrich themselves and rise above the common citizen they promised to serve when we elected them to office. They sit at polished desks and grow contemptuous of us, seeing us as down there and them as up there. They fall into depraved mental states.

But the Guyanese nation is you and me. And we live in an age that respects the individual. Each of us is empowered with a global voice, through online forums, to self-develop and build a life of value and worth.

Online, each Guyanese, even in remote hinterland villages, can source free books and great ideas and knowledge of all kind. Online, the individual can learn, in the school of life that the Internet has become, to self-develop. We need not sit any longer waiting for handouts from the depraved powerful who climb up on our bent backs. We can now truly self-develop, each one of us.

The reservoir of knowledge sits on our smartphones, computer or mobile device. If we each cultivate the sense of responsibility for our own self-development, and a sense of our role in lifting our society, our social environment, to higher places, we would eradicate such dysfunctions in our national soul. One person can make a difference for a village. One person, keen on self-development and with a vision for reform and innovation and improved performance, can make a difference for his or her community.

The young generation in our homeland is starting to wake up and assume such responsibility. Quite a few, still in their early 20’s and late teens, have started speaking out online. Several are launching community groups and initiatives to make a difference.

In 2014, we want to encourage such brave-hearted, thinking young Guyanese. We want to turn away from the wicked ways of the old divisive, depraved way of looking at our society and the Guyanese nation, and instead look to the future, inspire our young, so full of passion and energy and dreams.

In this way we would build a visionary, inspiring 2014. In the young, we see our hope, our future, and our development as a nation into a world class society.

Our inspiration to build 2014 comes from looking towards our young people, who see and feel our social depravity, and want to refine us as a people.

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