Choosing how to experience our homeland

We experience life, see our days, hear emotion and meaning when we interact with others, according to our presupposition, that unconscious window through which we see the world, each person’s point of view unique, each one’s frame of reference of a different shade than any other.

We see this theory at work in literature and in history, where in stories and the documenting of great lives men and women describe life with metaphors they know: the Army General talks with military references, the Farmer with agricultural metaphors, the Nurse with medical symbolism.

Individuality is that ability to experience life with this uniqueness, no human being seeing and feeling the world the same as another. Even twins experience life with significant shades of differences.

Ways of looking and feelingThis simple realization, that we humans think according to what occupies our mental faculty day in day out, shapes how we approach each other, how we engage and collaborate and cooperate and build together. If the farmer, for example, cannot comprehend the nurse in how she sees the world, understanding her worldview, the two would not get along.

Our nation stands today at a particularly peculiar moment in its history, with an unworkable political quagmire fuelling explosive rhetoric, misunderstandings and, tragically, shaping a social space across the nation whereby citizens don’t see how blessed our nation is in its natural landscape and innate potential. Instead, most citizens spend our days stooped under this heavy weight, this burdensome verbal oppression that storms the land.

In any democratic society, a free and independent media play the pivotal role in shaping national morale, citizen confidence, the outlook of people.

How should the media report on Government, Parliament, local governance or social issues?

First of all, those are subsets of the national stage, not the whole playing field: the Guyanese nation is a community of people, human beings experiencing life, with all the drama and aliveness and dynamic beauty of men, women and children living, breathing, playing, working, building, laughing, fostering and cultivating a nation unique on the world stage, in the history of humanity.

Do we see this vibrant aliveness in the national Media?

We lack engaging stories of Guyanese living in the 21st century. Instead of encountering our media landscape getting to know each other, seeing our neighbours tell of their lives in newspapers and on TV and on radio, most of what we encounter is the demeaning state of our politics.

The media’s obsession with our unworkable politics, with all the front pages and airwaves filled with the political rants that make little rational sense, is so comic that it would be a national daily lampoon were it not so tragic. And the vicious circle perpetuates, whereby the negativity in the media shapes the very negativity of the politics it “reports” on.

Across this nation, farmers are planting rice, ploughing new ground, nurses take care of the infirm, teachers shape the future generation. Our policemen and soldiers dedicate their days to serving us, as imperfect as they may so do. Today, Commander of ‘A’ Division Clifton Hicken meets the public at his office at Brickdam Station to sort out problems.

Our nation lives, vibrant, our pulsing national heartbeat beating with the ancient rush of human nature.

Yet, do we see the planting of the roadway all along the Black Bush Polder road in Corentyne? Do we know of the young family in Linden that educates and raises young children and aims to make it in the world? Do we see the Guyanese building her house in Cotton Tree village, with a $3 million loan, paying back $16,000 per month? Do we see the young woman in Essequibo driving to work in her brand new car?

We’re a nation of people, not politicians. We’re a nation of human beings, not power-hungry minions of men and women more interested in their own selfish ambition than contributing solutions to their community and nation.

The media, in the Guyanese body politic, cannot be a vehicle for personal ego, selfish ambition or irrational rants. The media serve the citizen. It’s about motivating and uplifting Guyanese, stirring our hearts with a love for our nation, inculcating an abiding faith in our future, shaping our social interaction, defining the national conversation.

Instead, we see the national media, including, tragically, the free press and the State media, becoming more and more stooped in playing politics, positioning people eager for power on platforms they deceptively command because they know how to stir irrational emotions.

How could we re-make the media landscape so that it becomes a powerful voice instead of a pitiable whimpering podium for a few angry souls to use for their personal gain?

The fundamental need of the Guyanese democratic body politic is a sane, sound, sensible national voice. A democracy’s healthy function depends on citizens being informed. An informed citizenry is what makes a democracy. An informed citizenry makes for an engaged, working democracy. An inspired, informed public makes a democracy. Citizens engaged in live stories of each other making life, that’s what is happening every day in Guyana. That’s what makes us a nation. That freedom to make life is what occupies each Guyanese every day.

We don’t see this mandate of cultivating a national people’s voice at work in our nation. Take the letter columns, for example. Instead of citizens from all across this land swarming the letter pages of the newspapers and using the airwaves to conduct sound, sensible debates, discussions and dissections of our nation’s being, we see a circus of letter writers dominate the national newspapers, recycling one-dimensional views, engaging in emotional nonsense, fuelling the vicious divides that cripple us as a people.

Those names that become household names in the Guyanese nation today are not, amazingly, our artists and writers and talents and sports heroes and outstanding entrepreneurs and courageous nurses and dedicated teachers and record-breaking farmers. Who becomes famous among us? Why only those who become embroiled in political disputes, personal vendettas, vicious hatred, negative attacks and selfish ambition?

Anyone encountering our society for the first time would think only warring politicians occupy Guyana. We don’t see in the national media our humanity, our personal stories.

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