One of the greatest haemorrhages experienced by Guyana following the intellectual and capital flight since the early 1990s is the erosion of integrity. Every day citizens of this country are faced with mind boggling experiences that would be frowned upon or utterly uprooted from most civilized societies. Some include the regularity of inept, callous and unprofessional behaviour in both public and private sectors. Others are more glaring, and come in the form of bribery, the deliberate distortion of records and various forms of evasion, including tax evasion. These trends invariably lead to unwarranted delays or losses in real dollars.
Failure by some lofty addressees to respond to or even acknowledge correspondence is a challenge evident in all sectors. The nonchalance and dishonesty that follow the absence of such ethics are simply amazing and harmful to any civilized society. Then there are the ever “busy” bodies; these are office-holders who render themselves inaccessible, while they punctuate their daily duties with frequent and lengthy inter-collegial gaffs or social media engagements. More extreme are the organized white collar racketeers. These are just a few examples, sampling the new ‘is Guyana’ culture that exposes the deficiency of integrity.
This subject found its way into the recent AFC press conference, where Ministers David Patterson and Cathy Hughes gave their respective insights into the slow but steady progress that has been made to date under the coalition government at discouraging and reversing trends of corruption.
As much as we know the issues, responsible personal behaviour is the first step we can all take towards restoring integrity in our society. Again I will reference Minister Hughes and her testimony relevant to the option of paying a traffic ticket or “leffing something” with a police officer who stopped her for exceeding a speed limit. She opted to pay the ticket instead of greasing the officer’s hand. If she had not demonstrated integrity in that instant she would never be able to face that officer with dignity again, much less talk about it.
Recently too, another public servant, a young police rank stationed several villages up the East Coast, who found a tradesman’s phone, travelled to Georgetown to return it to its owner. Such honesty is also another example of integrity.
This is the type of mental strength Guyanese need to emulate and seek to re-establish as a cultural hallmark. It is responsible behaviour, and responsibility begins with nobody but us. This discipline to be responsible builds integrity.
Maybe the media can also help by playing its part capturing more instances when persons demonstrate integrity, so it is seen as the norm and not just abstract instances or good luck.