Our nation suffers from a world-record brain drain. This is our most fundamental crisis. We witness the devastating impact of our poor human development across this society. And everyone is so busy cussing each other out, in blissful ignorance of the real crisis, that we don’t see the problem crushing us like a gigantic monster slowly gnawing our nation to screaming nonsense.
Of course, he who knows not that he knows not cannot reform his knowing.
While Government suffers severe skills shortages in the Public Sector, with crisis failure rates even at the Nursing College and the Teachers’ Training College, the Opposition parties’ paucity of vision, leadership and good sense compounds the tragedy.
Whether it’s City Hall or Parliament, we see a tragic struggle to lead. The effort is there, but our leaders seem handicapped, unable to tackle the most basic essential skills of public service.
Those opposed to Government sacrifice even their humane values in their vehement vitriol, refusing to criticize an alleged paedophile among them, or to condemn the public abuse of women who are perceived to be sympathetic to Government.
We believe in democracy, openness, tolerance and freedom of the individual. These values ground us. Yet, for five decades now, we find ourselves battling to keep these values alive in the Guyanese society.
While Government cowers in insecurity and myopic weakness, a vociferous Opposition, filled with lust for vengeance, uses words like openness and freedom to unleash crass irresponsibility in public behaviour.
Today, at City Hall, for example, the scenario borders on grotesque deformity, and Mayor Hamilton Green must resign. This man’s appalling leadership in this country, over the past 60 years, is an example of what got us into the mess we’re in today.
City Hall is literally collapsing. We cannot leave things to just fall apart. Given the acrimony and strife over Local Government Elections, Anti-Money Laundering laws and the Procurement Commission, we must act differently. We cannot continue this way. How could we explain a woman being abused at City Hall, despite the controversies and differences of opinion?
If we cannot respect our young children and see that justice is done against a high profile paedophile; if we cannot respect our women leaders, even if we disagree with them; if we cannot convict a criminal who murders a citizen in broad daylight captured on surveillance camera; if we cannot prosecute narcotic smugglers even when we find the evidence; if we cannot agree on simple ways forward at our Parliament, how grotesque we are as a society.
Psychologically, we must hang our head in shame as a nation. Our children see the way we are as a society, and the next generation would think this is normal. We who grew up in more refined times know it’s severely abnormal.
We must transform how we act, how we behave, how we conduct ourselves in the Guyanese society, starting with our leaders
How do we be different?
We must, with rational sense and a monumental effort at raising our level of thinking, employ a new way of managing and building this society. We must reach out to each other with compassionate understanding. We must erase this image in our minds that the other is an enemy, and use conversation and high language to lift ourselves to a higher plane.
This Government is open and willing to engage. President Donald Ramotar, Education Minister Priya Manickchand, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony and Attorney General Anil Nandlall are approachable, they listen, and they talk openly about the challenges they face in governing.
In the Opposition camp, leaders like Parliamentary Speaker Raphael Trotman, and Members of Parliament Moses Nagamootoo and Khemraj Ramjattan, and many others, are open, humble and willing to work hard to make a difference.
We’ve got civic leaders who engage across all divides and accomplish much, who work hard to bring solutions.
But the national media and a few vociferous voices dominate the national conversation, propagating vehement words of division. This harsh, plosive negativity dominates the land.
Our Guyanese nation today stands devastated, gutted from the core, the inside, its very heart and soul. The brain drain is no easy crisis. Lack of expertise, skills and knowledge-workers cripples all aspects of life in this nation, including City Hall, Parliament, political parties, Government and civic institutions.
The tragedy is that a few among us harbour unworkable hearts, seeming to want things to fall apart, unable or unwilling to try engagement, reaching out and humane understanding. And these position themselves so that their language, filled with fierce vengeance and grotesque ugliness, dominate the airwaves and the national media.
The story about the New Opportunity Corps now trending, for example, saw one newspaper report saying something like this Orwellian misspeak, which stirs emotional hysteria: “something is being hidden at the Ministry, and this is a criminal act in Guyana”. What is the “something”? What’s the criminal act? One reads that statement, in a national newspaper, quoting an Opposition Member of Parliament, with utter consternation. It makes no sense at all, and goes against all the ethics of professional Journalism.
We must rid ourselves of this unprofessional emotionalism, which cripples our ability to engage, cooperate, understand and join hands to work together to overcome this monstrous brain drain grinding our nation to crass crisis after crisis.
Take the NOC story, for example. Instead of us working together to reform and rehabilitate the kids who end up in this juvenile prison, we lash out in irrational political fights, using the kids as pawns for our agendas.
Instead of us dealing with the real issues, we attack each other for political gain.
The brain drain causes us to be in this social quagmire.
And the solution is simply for us to cooperate, in humane understanding, across the society – media, Government, Parliament, civic society – to solve our brain drain, this foundational crisis.
President Ramotar could take the lead, to engage the nation with words of healing, reaching out and compassionate understanding. We hope the President acts with such a vision.