August 6, 2017 marked the 72nd anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This year’s anniversary passed quietly without any fanfare. The atomic bomb code named; ‘Little Boy’ was dropped on Hiroshima. Three days later, a second a bomb code named ‘Fat Man’ was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. It was the only time that nuclear weapons were used in war.
In Hiroshima, the deaths amounted to between 150,000 to 180,000 out of a population of 350,000 while in Nagasaki, 50,000 to 100,000 people died.
Seventy-two years later, the world is facing the possibility of another nuclear conflagration, this time on the Korean Peninsula. Since February this year, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) carried out 19 missile tests triggering outcries in the West and in Asia. A few days ago the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution imposing stringent economic sanctions on the DPRK. The question now is, how will the DPRK react to these new sanctions even though China’s Foreign Minister declared that, “sanctions are not the ultimate goal.” In the meanwhile, all the parties were called upon to, “Judge and act with responsibility in order to prevent the tensions from escalating.”
It is sometimes difficult to measure the extent to which Guyanese generally pay attention to events taking place in the world in which we live. People tend to be generally consumed with the rigours of everyday life to such an extent that only in instances where an event affects them personally, would they focus on the outside world. And understandably so.
Otherwise, issues such as building a wall to fence off the United States from Mexico, the imposition of taxes on remittances, tighter immigration measures or even political upheavals in Venezuela or Brazil would be met with either indifference, derision or cynicism by the populace. This is the reality.
It is not because the print, electronic or social media networks do not make world news available to the general public. They do. Neither is it because people do not have access to either one or two channels. Again, they do. In light of the rapid development and expansion of the internet there is absolutely no information deficit in the world today; on the contrary, there may very well be a human interest deficit.
Here in Guyana, in so far as the search for a balance between local and international news is concerned, almost everywhere you go, Guyanese would tend, on balance, to focus more on a host of local issues such as loss of confidence in government, bad governance, the rising cost of living, lack of money in circulation, ethnic insecurity, the non-availability of jobs, SARA, corruption and extravagance in government. In the meantime, while all the chatter and polemics abound locally, the world as a global village of which we are an integral part, is moving on at a rapid pace. Guyana regrettably continues to lag behind.
The rapid, people-centred development trajectory on which Guyana was poised for take off in the mid ʼ20s has been interrupted with the election to office of the APNU+AFC as a result of the 2015 elections. In fulfilment of its elections manifesto the new administration is pursuing policies which are discouraging both local and foreign investors, witch-hunting ministers and public servants of the former PPP/C administration, carving out an ethnic profile of itself at all levels of government, undermining the economy, going on a spending spree on a host of white elephant projects and jobs for the boys, and last but not least trampling on the Constitution by pushing a bundle of undemocratic laws though the National Assembly.
However, the point that needs to be emphasized is that all the progress made in countries in different parts of the world can be obliterated in a matter of seconds if the world becomes enveloped in nuclear conflagration. Such a development is a real possibility, especially in the context of the political and military tensions that have been building up over the past months on the Korean Peninsula.
Guyanese must think globally but act locally in defence of world peace. In other words, while focusing on the local issues that matter so much to them in respect of their daily livelihood they must not lose sight of the bigger picture playing out on the global stage which, notwithstanding of our remote geographic location, can have devastating effects on our country and others in our part of the world.
Clement J Rohee