Once again there has been outrage, and rightly so by some concerned voices over the manner in which the 14-year-old boy Andy met his death.
It is alleged that the boy’s head was crushed by a truck while sleeping under it, and it was further established that this was one of his customary sleeping places, since for some time prior to that the child was virtually on his own – homeless. He never attended school, was exploited in every-which way and in the words of Martin Carter was “one of the uncountable miseries owning the land.”
Coming on the heels of the Colwyn Harding case, and following on the heels of… following on the heels of… Oh! the list is long.
Take note that the frequency of these dreadful happenings is no longer attracting too much public outrage; people are getting accustomed to them, and their sensitivities to things uncivilized and inhuman are almost numb.
Wrongs have become the norm, except when the victim is closely related. But we didn’t get so overnight, no sir! But over time this is how we have become.
The rat-race is the dominant factor on which almost everything is based, not so much on sound principles, objectives or outlook – although perhaps these maybe more evident in written form than in practice. Many of our new leaders are uninspiring and prosaic; they can’t reach the masses and the masses can’t feel them, but how could one expect anything different if they are not genuine?
We have half-baked pretenders whose interest in leadership/power is self-serving. The people are loose and scattered, helter-skelter, uncaring, a nation of individuals where the law of the jungle ‘every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’ operates.
This is the scene today, and what do we see?
Ordinary common folks from the belly of the working class at the earliest assumption of an upper position are brazenly eager to shed all connection to that class and assume an anti-working class stance with many silly attitudes, seeing themselves as part of the ruling establishment and so acting in conformity. It is so disgusting, watching them make a travesty of themselves, but they can’t see it.
They are that naïve. This very behaviour accounts for the way they treat the common folk with whose affairs they are entrusted and who must go to their voices. The contemptuous, arrogant and disdainful treatment the ordinary man has to endure from them is so stressful, weary and degrading.
Listen to and watch the behaviour of youths and grown-ups; when with their own kind they all do not fail to boldly express themselves – they weigh in on nearly everything.
But then comes the persuasion, the promise of personal glory, of influence and a grand life that is dangled before some of them, and here is when individuals become all sorts of things – insincere, hypocritical, treacherous and two faced. And believe it or not this is one among many reasons for our present state of affairs, and why many are so uncaring and selfish.
And it is so disheartening, so frustrating that there is nothing else that can appeal to and capture the imagination of the people who need to see, feel and believe in something that really means something – something to hold on to, to motivate and inspire them into a feeling that from deep down within there is a solid rock upon which we stand with aspiration that are not impossible.
But we remain in a maze, with anarchy from top to bottom. Yes, we are in a great big rat-race against the backdrop of race, where hardly anything is viewed in the light of having national relevance; but who cares, where is the example?
The story of young Andy is not an isolated one, and it is also not divorced from the fact we have a police force that is corrupt and untameable; a public hospital that no longer takes good care of patients; contractors extracting millions from the state and doing sub-standard work; and that at any time of the day and in any place a person could be shot or stabbed in full view of the public either because of a sour-deal, a robbery, domestic affairs or in a fit of passion. People are behaving like mad dogs; it’s crazy beyond comprehension and it’s all because of a national shortcoming – a missing ingredient.
The setting of Guyana today has much in common with what happened to that 14-year-old boy, Andy. As we have been told many knew this lost child Andy who was just a statistic to them.
Aware of his circumstances they exploited it fully, why? Because many of us have long ceased being our brothers’ keeper, so many of us have grown up into a full-fledged bunch of unconscionable souls. It is for this very reason why some take full advantage of ‘junkies,’ those “uncountable miseries roaming this land,” and would send them down a cesspool half naked to work for an entire day and for all that would offer them a measly two or three hundred dollars without shame or a prick of conscience, while threatening them to get lost. Some of us have lost our humanity and this is the reason why there are so many Andys among us today.
Much of what we are wallowing in is tearing us to pieces even though to some it may not appear so on the surface, and I truly hope that I’m not considered a pessimist or a prophet of doom for saying it, but we are walking on quicksand. We have produced and are saddled with this ‘now’ generation that we cannot fathom, who have been “wired sick” as one F Collins noted. “There is a new code of ethics” which they have adopted and flaunt daily; there is no point of reference in relation to basic manners. Listen to their preferred mode of speech, the lyrics in the songs they love and the “polluted uncultured shows” they crave, and you get the fullness of it all. And it is upon the axis of the “new code of ethics” that Guyana revolves.
The adage of yore ‘A liar is a thief and a thief a murderer,’ mentioned by Collins and which we were taught to be mindful of, is no more regarded as one to eschew; young people do some of the most horrible things without batting an eyelid and see themselves as crafty. For them the end justifies the means and that’s all that matters.
But wait, don’t crucify them just yet, remember it was we who begot them and not the reverse so we need to be cautious about how we apportion blame. They are imitating us. Mr EB John has given us a wonderful passage to ponder: “But perhaps, just perhaps even at this late stage, we can pause to ponder how much our collective deficiencies could have brought the society to this cliff-edge called Colwyn Harding; could have contributed to the slide into a digitalized society in which virtual reality has overtaken spirituality.”
And yet again he has captured in twenty simple words present-day Guyana which we have all helped to fashion in one way or another, either by our action or inaction: “It is the mark of the bestiality which we have patented for the concrete jungle through which we now prowl.” Indeed, and it is to this batch with its new code of ethics to which the baton has been passed, a not so new and strange breed who from all indications cares not a pint of parrot liquid about the beauty, pride and immortality of this nation. But pick any number, be you happy be you sad, the indisputable truth is that the fate of the land is in their hands.
So keep the faith, and as GHK Lall says, “we will survive, the question is just how? And so life goes on.