When former President Bharrat Jagdeo took ill last week and ended up in the United States for emergency medical treatment, we witnessed how low we could sink as a nation.

Businessman Yog Mahadeo took to social media to denounce an anti-Jagdeo tirade, noting that “I have seen people show hate instead of care. Have seen them make mockery of illness instead of thinking about the human side. When we see the hate spewed when a man is ill, 20120914shawnit makes me wonder how much humanity remains in our nation and in our hearts. Let us oppose anyone but not hate so much that we lose sight of our humanness.”

Whatever disagreement one may hold with the former President, to attack and malign him on his sick bed shows how heartless we could be as a people. Every Guyanese is a citizen of our nation, a soul to be soothed, a heart to be nurtured.

How we see ourselves as a nation impacts how we talk to each other, how we develop ourselves into a world class society, and how we create a vision for our nation. We must keep emphasizing this fact.

A humane society grows out of a people developing hearts and souls of compassion, kindness and care.

The soul of the Guyanese nation cannot afford to be callous, hard, cold, unfeeling, lacking humane compassion. We must cultivate ourselves as a people who live out the maxim of being our brother’s keeper.

We exhort the Government and ruling elite to treat us ordinary citizens with respect, care and consideration. And when the time comes for us to exhibit such concern, we plunge into the dark depths of degradation to wallow in the mud of inhumane glee at the misfortune of someone we see as the enemy.

This stunning, shocking reaction to news of Jagdeo’s illness, which included some gruesomely gleeful reports that he had died, cannot be good for our nation.

We must learn to become one people, and harbour our religious, political and philosophical differences with much more class, finesse and refined humanity.

The nasty reaction so shocked Mahadeo, who is an outspoken critic of the Government, that he posted on social media his plea for us to demonstrate compassion and kindness, and questioned our humanity.

What kind of a people have we become? We seem so hard and callous and inhumane in how we see and care for each other.

Everywhere we see verbal abuse, spousal abuse, disregard for the welfare of children, and a society fallen in its humanity.

The Government, as manager of the public education system, cannot escape blame for the way the Guyanese nation is today, for the crisis of conscience in our nation, for the erosion of ethics that stifle and drown our humanity.

Ironic it is that Mr Jagdeo is victim of this wanton, wicked display of inhumane unkindness. What kind of society is the Government developing if this is the result?

What are we doing to inculcate in citizens a sense of morality, ethical social behaviour, compassion, kindness to one another, and to be our brothers’ keeper?

The Guyana Times newspaper reported in October last year that Mr Jagdeo called for a new national conversation, one where we overcome the bitterness and strife we see in Parliament.

The responsibility is on Mr Jagdeo, as a sort of elder statesman, and the Government and ruling political party, to initiate and create such a playing field on the national stage.

Mr Jagdeo, who harbours a laudable vision of being an international leader in the natural environment arena, must demonstrate the kind of leadership here at home that would take us out of this deep, dark pit of misery we have fallen into. We must become a people of heart, of compassion and care and kindness and consideration.

How do we see each other? How do we care for each other? How do we consider each other as kinship citizens of the Guyanese nation?

Yesterday, we saw a headline story in the Guyana Times newspaper – a newspaper riddled with allegations of questionable business relations between its owner and Mr Jagdeo – that lambasted and attacked the Stabroek News.

Why would Jagdeo, having just seen how devastating such attacks can be to one’s person, especially on a sick bed, resort to criticizing news organs?

We must come to a place where we develop this idea of forgiveness, of reconciliation, of a people refined and noble in our character, and hence foster a national character of a humane, understanding Guyanese people.

It starts with leadership from the likes of Mr Jagdeo. If we want to transform the national conversation, to soften our hardened heart as a nation, to awaken our conscience to be a compassionate, considerate, humane people, we must lead from the front, and set the example.

We perpetuate hurts on each other, many citizens seeing Jagdeo and the Government as enemies. Government notoriously fails in its public relations mandate, and fails miserably to tell its story. Despite its paranoid control of the State media, with mediocre managers and ill-trained leaders overseeing poor journalism of the worst order, and a slew of private media sympathetic to the ruling elite, we still see a national stage littered with strife, anger, hate, enmity and misunderstanding.

It’s either Government and Jagdeo and the ruling elite suffer from inefficient and ineffective leadership of its media work, or it is failing terribly in this crucial area.

We can only motivate, inspire, and cultivate the nation’s heart and soul if we create a national social environment where citizens see moral, ethical, humane, conscientious leadership at play.

Yog Mahadeo took on that social responsibility this week for us as a nation.

We welcome Mr Jagdeo home this week, him having successfully overcome the illness scare. We want to join together, as a nation, to welcome him home.

Many citizens already question the ethics of the State funding his trip to the US. That issue we may confront and deal with, but in the same breath we must magnanimously embrace our former President in his hour of illness.

Let us become a people of noble hearts and conscientious character.

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