Someday at Christmas we’ll see a land
With no hungry children, no empty hands
One happy morning people will share
A world where people care – Stevie Wonder – Someday at Christmas
Today many will sit at overburdened tables and overindulge while many have nothing, or not nearly enough. In keeping with the season, some will have given as much as they can and then some. Others very little or not at all. It is the way of the world.
It is this same world that Stevie Wonder sang about some 50 years ago in “Someday at Christmas,” a plea as it were for change from the war, poverty and all the other social ills dogging mankind. Instead, atrocities have piled up and multiplied more than 100 fold from then to now. It is a testimony to mankind’s unyielding fortitude that we have not all given up in the face of severe misfortune.
This is the kind of resilience that keeps women like Nazalena Natasha Houston sane and even hopeful given the hellish situation she emerged from just over a year ago. Maimed (her reputed husband chopped off her arm almost from the shoulder), scarred by other physical wounds as well as mental and emotional ones and bereft (she will ever mourn her two children whose lives he took along with his own), Natasha has endured in her 22 years of life more than the average woman sees in an entire lifetime. That she now chooses to use her own life and adversity as a means of educating other women who may be victims of domestic violence, really elevates her to champion status. Maybe someday Natasha will enjoy the benefit of a prosthetic arm to alleviate her disability and her mental and emotional wounds will heal to a point where they are bearable.
Perhaps someday too, we will be rid of the type of mentality that stimulates violence in all its forms so that our people, particularly women and children, can have better lives.
Someday at Christmas, there will be no more Plastic City, or Skull City or similar such areas, where people live in such abject poverty that having a few eggs with their meal is considered a “good day.” Where “…children live among the mangroves, near the river, in make-shift, box-like zinc houses. Their only protection is rickety, rotten wood doors hanging from the hinges and rusty zinc sheets on their roof to bar the rain. There is no water, no electricity, and no telephone lines.” This is the extreme poverty the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is seeking to address; where victims face not only income poverty, but hunger, disease or high risk of disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion.
Someday at Christmas flooded streets, yards and homes will be a thing of the past. That will happen when those with clout are willing to listen to, take advice from and cooperate with those with the engineering know-how and institutional memory. It has been ventilated ad nauseam in this newspaper’s letter columns and elsewhere that approaches to coastal flooding leave a lot to be desired. Recommendations have been made and ignored to the detriment of mostly low-income residents who continue to lose financially, which they can ill afford. At the same time money is being expended on correcting and redoing projects that could be put to better use elsewhere.
Someday there will be no more we vs them or vice versa as we will all come to the realization that the longer we discriminate, segregate, hate and fight the more we will stagnate. Can we truly progress if some sectors of the population are excluded or feel like they are being left behind? No. Instead, regression might be the result of the weight of their collective despair.
Someday Guyana’s bountiful resources will be exploited in such a way as to benefit all of its peoples. Famed economist Dr Jeffrey Sachs’s philosophy is that the world has enough for all its inhabitants. Greed is what skews the balance leading to extreme poverty in one place and overabundance in another. And so it is with Guyana, which should not be, particularly given its underpopulated state.
Our wish this Christmas is that someday we will all have enough. This will not happen in our time, but our resolve will one day see the imbalance corrected. Merry Christmas.