We need human development. Our society lacks two fundamental tenets of a 21st century society: focus on developing a knowledge society, and action to cultivate human development.
A nation builds a strong humane society only on pillars rooted on the foundation of that commitment to human development.
The Guyanese society lacks that insight, that sacred public trust.
Dr Cheddi Jagan’s idea for human development serves for the perfect jump start to developing a Vision Guyana declaration for the 21st century.
Travelling across this country’s lovely landscape, with its breezy peacefulness and its fertile blessedness, one glaring lack mars the perfect picture of the Guyanese homeland: nowhere in the public space does the citizen encounter profound thought.
The national media, except for a couple of columns in the Stabroek News on Sunday, looks and feels devoid of intellectual thought in our writers. We lack a body of literature icons who write novels that stimulate our minds; we lack playwrights of quality; we lack national poets who speak beyond narrow walls to express the depth and truth of the human condition, who explore what it means to be a human being in our unique global context. Our national poet, Ian McDonald, fades with age, and our schools fail to develop quality thinkers to take his place one day, to lead us in thinking about ourselves.
Whether it’s at City Hall, with its rambunctious rowdiness and stunted stupidity, or on the streets of our City, we face verbal noise and uncultured, unrefined public spaces.
Mass entertainment events perpetuate commercials on TV and radio, in multimedia dazzle, that reinforce this culture of rampant emotionalism and lack of thought in the citizen.
Our young Guyanese suffer from this society’s grotesque social space. No one suffers the impact of our fall from a thinking people to a non-thinking society more than our young citizens. And to think that the national population is 70 percent young people is to realize how tragic the situation is today.
The young look to their society to guide, cultivate and nurture their heart and soul into quality, value-added human development. When the society fails in this mandate, we cannot look forward to a future as a knowledge society. We fail our young every day. The evidence of our society being littered with wasted young minds is everywhere across this country.
It’s so easy to stumble across a rum shop in a village humming with the sad noise of cussing souls full of intoxicated liquor. It’s so easy to encounter lewd music and deafeningly unedifying lyrics across TV and the radio airwaves. It’s so easy to watch movies and talk on TV that fail to stimulate the thinking of the average Guyanese. Quietly, a narcotic crisis gnaws away at our young minds, all across this country.
Media content shapes the public space of our society. And the bulk of this content, across TV, our newspapers and radio, and even the popular sites on the Internet, cater to our base emotionalism and irrational instincts.
We become fed up and frustrated complaining of the dire stupidity that passes for content on the State media, with even the Government suffering from poor content development and lack of educated imagination in its media managers.
We just give up and accept things as they are, and the incompetence, inefficiency and unprofessional arrogance proceeds with gay abandon.
The University of Guyana looks like a place of the utmost paucity of intellectualism. Even in its physical appearance, lacking landscaping and scrubbed cleanliness, UG generates a feeling of things falling apart. Our schools fail to energize their communities with a sense of producing citizens of profound thought.
We lack a popular culture of literature, books, intellectual curiosity, intelligent public discourse, rational examination of issues, or anything approaching profound thought.
Our society fails to generate a critical mass of citizens steeped in the pleasure of pursuing the development of an educated imagination, who aspire for original intellectual insight.
Our citizens even express dismay at what emanates from Parliament, where public discourse frequently descends into irrational rants, emotional outbursts and non-thinking vexation.
Efforts to cultivate some form of a thinking culture, like the ‘Ideas’ event held this month at Moray House on Camp Street, fail to generate mass interest. The event itself lacked profound depth, and despite the promise and inspiration of its youngest presenter, failed to generate any key insight.
Unless we work hard and commit to cultivate a public space in our society that generates a critical mass of citizens in love with objective thinking, educated imagination and inspired aspiration to original insights, we cannot leap jump Guyana into a sound 21st century knowledge society able to contribute to global development.
We must see human development as the most crucial task facing us.
There’s a disturbing dearth of thinking across this country, with even the Education Minister’s public utterances lacking the kind of gravitas that generates intellectual exploration.
Where’s the leader who shapes the public conversation?
We see angry irrational commentators, most often driven into a passion of personal vendetta, more able to generate public talk, than any of our leaders, whose public speeches lack depth, vision and intellectual insight. None of our leaders employ proficient researchers and quality writers for their speeches.
We cannot ignore our most profound fall from grace, this deteriorating drought of thinking that bedevils our Guyanese homeland.
Our public space across this country not only lacks aesthetic appeal in its physical design and cleanliness, but also fails to inspire the citizen to lift his or her heart and soul to look beyond that narrow numbness of the V. S. Naipaul insight of our social state.
Naipaul explored this idea of the human development of the Caribbean Person, and originated the idea that we lack thinking of our social condition. We lack this culture of profound thought, of inner exploration of who we are as a people.
This applies so well to our Guyanese society.
We’ve got Dr Jagan’s Human Development vision. And we must bring that vision home, must focus on developing the Guyanese nation into a knowledge society, into a thinking people where profound thought is the foundation for our public spaces.