We want conversations that inspire us. Nothing so transforms one’s day as engaging in conversations with people in our social circle that move, inspire and lift us, nourishing the spirit, filling the soul with a sweet taste. Words matter, what we encounter in the social space, and what we compose in how we think and talk.
In this society, this lacklustre social space we harbour in the Guyanese nation, we refuse to think and exercise authentic intellectual effort in considering such ideas as the fact that we now live in the Knowledge Age. Today, it’s all about information, ideas, a virtual world clothed in language, words and semantics. But we gloss over the idea of the Knowledge Age with a vague understanding of what the idea is about, what it means: its dynamic significance for us on a personal level.
Our crushing crisis in this society is that devastating brain drain. As much as we blame and lambast others for the ills of the Guyanese society, what we really face is a crisis of intellectual effort, a warping of the national mind, a deterioration of the language in which we move and exist.
We take such things for granted, but were we to inspect developed societies we would see a sophistication of language, thinking, conversation and intellectual effort. We would see in Canada, the US, Europe, and even some Caribbean countries a deep respect for developing the citizens’ ability to talk well, comprehend literately and compose creative thinking.
As much as we could celebrate the quintessential Guyaneseness that we encounter across the nation, those idiosyncratic little habits that we satirize and laugh about, we would be well served to face the fact that the Guyanese society suffers from poor language.
This manifests so much in the public space, and we need not regurgitate the loud cussing, crass lyrics and plosive harshness of tone we encounter in our nasty markets, uncouth minibuses and broken streets.
We brush this aside as the least of our worries, focusing on our Government as the omnipotent cause of all our shortfalls, ignoring the hand of Guyanese citizens and business owners in those stifling challenges that baffle us, like widespread corruption, terrible littering, unkempt environments, unethical and immoral behaviour and lewd cultural practices.
We must consider this fundamental, serious role that our ability to talk and think plays in how we build our own personal life, and by extension the Guyanese society.
Our fundamental lack in this 21st century Guyanese nation is thought-leadership.
Nowhere in this society could we encounter a social space that lifts our intellectual thought-life. And in a culture that shuns literary reading, where people who cannot read and those who refuse to read exist side-by-side with ease, we slowly deteriorate. First, the thought-life falls apart, the inner sanctuary crumbles unseen, or rather rots away in non-activity, then the outer society falls apart, the social space suffering a drying up of the soul.
Just like refusing to exercise one’s muscles leads to weak, sick limbs, refusing to exercise the brain and neglecting to develop the mind eventually weakens one’s ability for thought, for exercising intellectual effort. This word intellectual has nothing in this context to do with scholarly pursuits, but rather with the ability to function intelligently in developing one’s life, setting goals, achieving results, refusing to waste one’s life in non-action and idleness.
In the special circumstances of the Guyanese society today, a weighty responsibility rests with those who lead the nation in developing its thought-form.
Organizations, social movements, businesses, State departments that play in this arena of generating how we talk, how we think, how we encounter each other must themselves exercise a greater depth of intellectual effort in how they carry out their mandate.
Our national media landscape houses the best vehicle to move the Guyanese nation to the next level. The four daily newspapers cannot escape culpability for how we are today. These newspapers must know that they lead the national conversation.
Local radio, TV stations and the Internet perpetuate a culture of sub-literate quality. The writing in our national newspapers lack depth of thought, except from a few political commentators, who are more concerned with Government’s shortcomings than lifting this nation.
In all the national media in Guyana, only Ian McDonald sets out to make a defining difference in cultivating a love for the humanities and for personal development through developing our ability to use language.
We must feel this beating in our pulse, this absolute necessity to lift how each Guyanese thinks, talks and engages each other. In that simple formula lies the future of our nation.
And for that to happen, someone’s got to take charge of the national conversation, exercising courage and stamina to overcome the rampant plosive harshness that descends into grotesque cussing outs. Someone’s got to lead, taking on this responsibility. And who better than a national media outfit, using its platform to cultivate inspiring national conversations that build bridges, foster cooperation and engage in using words to construct a new workable social space.
We focus so much on old ways of looking at the world – seeing physical space, ignoring psychic, emotional space; seeing economics, ignoring socio-cultural imperatives; seeing culture as a popular way of being, ignoring cultivation of creativity and thought-forms and critical thinking.
Media workers must take on the leadership in this nation of developing our ability to love knowledge, self-development and living for a personal purpose.
Media workers play on a mass stage, a national platform, using words to shape social space, to mold public opinion.
Of course, our national media landscape is as devastated as the rest of the nation, suffering from that grotesque brain drain. National media workers violate the ethics of the Journalism profession as much as Police take bribes, quietly and behind the scenes working in the pay of secret clients. Even senior members of the Press fraternity take payment to promote certain firms and organizations.
But someone’s got to take the lead in healing this nation.
It starts with one person setting out to cultivate inspiring conversations, using a national media platform to build how we think, see and feel.