Love of country has to be of a selfless kind

Dear Editor,

President Trump said something sublime and powerful in the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Virginia of the Congressman and his companions.

I had promised right here not to say anything Trump-related for the next two years.  Today I make an exception.

Mr Trump said, “We may have our differences, but we do well to remember that everyone who serves here in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.”  One more time: “…everyone who serves here…above all, they love our country.”  I find this deep and meaningful; it is usually, mainly true for the United States.  The burning troubling question follows almost reflexively: is the same true of Guyanese serving in Guyana?

Love of country; I ask to be forgiven for seizing 1 Corinthians 13 (the entire chapter) and using it in this context.  Some might find it helpful in some of its aspects.  Too often and too long, this unforgiving, untrusting, unmoving land has been used and betrayed by those reaching to serve because of their love for so many other things, other than the love of country.

There is love of power; love of money; love of the extravagances and excessive excesses of office.  This includes wine, women, and song; love of duty-free toys, love of luxury housing and luxury living, trophies all.  There is a superseding matchless love for these emblems of celebrity and arrival, while a loveless land is wracked by plunder and desolation, and its many impoverished citizens clutch at shrinking straws.

Love of country could and should certainly incorporate ambition and vision, but it has to be of a selfless kind, and to a self-sacrificing degree.  Contracts and gigs and prestige and positioning all become secondary.  What is right for this society?  How do I contribute towards starting to make matters right?  And how I do instil in others the willingness to personify, magnify, and glorify the embedded ideals?  These are some of the questions, formidable, if not unanswerable, for Guyanese leaders, and those aspiring to be.

It goes beyond talking, positioning, and writing; it is about the doing, and at an immaculate level.  Country first!  Country always!  This land is my land; I love it and all of its peoples.  That should be the cri de coeur of leaders, leaders who are about serving, about giving, and about loving a place that has never been truly loved in such a manner.  It is a place that has never felt the silky touch and comforting cocoon of such a sentiment, such an embrace.

I daresay that if citizens experience and sense this authentic leadership love, this servant love from different points in the great yawning political and ethnic rift valley that is Guyana, then they, too, just might find it in themselves to be courageous to extend the same love to others.

Now to introduce a jarring note on an altogether thorny issue, and at the risk of inserting a non sequitur: surely this country cannot be so devoid of vitality, integrity, and perspicacity that there is talk of possible constitutional amendment to allow nominations of foreigners for the chairperson of Gecom.  Surely, Guyana and Guyanese cannot be truly so lacking in pride and dignity.  And most surely, Guyana cannot be so bereft of regard for any standard and our own self-respect that there has to be a resorting to such a fateful damning and damnable step.

Perhaps, the inevitable next step is to consider a foreigner for president.  Come to think of it, more than that was done a while back.  I return to where I started: Love of country, that elusive, treasure, undefined quality, means love of countrymen and all of their unending barbarisms.  It is about falling in love with the intangible, if not perhaps unreachable.  It is as simple as that; and as jingoistic too.

Incidentally, one thing must be made clear (irreversibly so): I am not running for anything.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall