When it was first reported that Dr Myles Munroe would be the keynote speaker at the ‘Better Men, Better Families, Better Nation’ conference The Caribbean Voice became extremely excited.
We had high hopes that this event would provide a forum for men to openly express their concerns relating to the chronic issues that plague Guyana’s families: teen pregnancies, domestic violence, suicide, drugs and several others which have led to the decline in viable family structures as well as values.
However, the fact that the conference was to be held in Georgetown rather than an outlying area where it would reach more of the men who are affected by such issues made us wonder momentarily as to its impact.
Then we thought that perhaps the focus would be on professional men who would then spread the message to every region and district via seminars, workshops and focus groups. After all, if so much money was going to be spent on a jet-setting, multi-million dollar speaker, there must be additional funds to ensure that the message and the impact become national and that the objectives implicit in laying out the carpet for Dr Munroe would be met, especially given that Dr Munroe’s first sojourn in Guyana did not seem to have yielded much. Surely that would be rectified by this second visit?
So imagine our disappointment when the visit and the conference were called off because of poor planning and communication. And so a number of questions forced themselves to the forefront.
How does the NCF aim to combat issues that plague men and families, when they can’t organize such a basic event? What of monies already spent? Couldn’t these funds, and all funds budgeted for Dr Munroe’s visit, have been more wisely spent by using local human resources (which are evidently available – psychologists and sociologists working in the field, staff at the University of Guyana, even diaspora human resources that would not have cost an arm and a leg) to plan and execute a national outreach addressing these issues? Surely by now it is understood that Georgetown is not Guyana and that issues that affect people nationwide cannot be addressed by events planned centrally, especially when the audience therein is a very minimal segment of the audience that needs to be reached.
Many in Guyana do not speak of their discomfort because such has become the norm, but when precious funds are being wasted, money that could have been better and more effectively deployed, one has to question motives, objectives and intent. As it is, Guyana is already in a world of trouble when it comes to families and impacting issues spelt out above. Please therefore let focus be placed on the actual target audience, let money be spent to maximize effect and let available resources be deployed to that effect so that cost effectiveness becomes the order of the day. Multi-million dollar motivational speakers who, at best, possess layman’s knowledge cannot help the situation and may very well end up worsening it by statements based on ignorance or personal biases.
More importantly, Dr Munroe is a pastor who propagates male-centricity and the subjugation of woman to man. He is neither a sociologist nor a psychologist and has certainly had no track record with respect to redress focused on any of the issues outlined above that Guyanese men face, and which have led to the decline in viable family structures as well as values. Besides, as a pastor, his message would have been a Christian one, but these issues have almost nothing to do with religion and a significant number of Guyanese men are not Christians.
Perhaps because he’s a pastor himself, Rev Gilbert’s choice of Dr Myles Munroe, is somewhat understandable. But besides the fact that Dr Munroe is really not qualified to holistically address issues of men and families, Rev Gilbert and his commission must understand that their personal biases should not be the pre-eminent factor in making decisions, especially when they must be aware that the pathologies that are endemic in society cannot be approached in a piecemeal manner with a focus on ostentatiousness.
Besides, given the National Family Commission’s (NFC) limited resources, each dollar must be maximally utilized towards the end goal, regardless whether that money is derived from government or private sources.
The NFC claims that 10,000 attended Dr Munroe’s rally in 2010, yet there is a “crisis facing our families in Guyana, as demonstrated in an unprecedented spike in domestic and sexual violence.” In effect, Dr Munroe’s intervention in 2010 not only had zero impact, but issues negatively impacting families worsened, yet according to the Rev Gilbert, “Dr Munroe’s intervention remains both timely and necessary.” Are we missing something here?
Given the fact that Dr Munroe’s previous visit was an exercise in futility The Caribbean Voice strongly suggest that money budgeted for his visit be utilized in liaising with central religious institutions such as the Guyana Council of Churches, the Central Islamic Organization of Guyana and the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabbha (among others) to set up a mechanism (training, networking, referrals) to ensure that every mandir, church and mosque and every pandit, pastor, moulvi and imam become part of the multi-sectoral campaign to address issues relating to men, women and families, including lack of empathetic parenting and communication, relationship issues, suicide, domestic and child abuse, incest, rape, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism and substance abuse.