The criminalization of the Guyanese conscience

Dear Editor,

The routine commerce of daily interactions, observations, and experiences now confirm a pervasive, if not firmly established state. It is where the mentality of the average Guyanese, or more pointedly Guyanese for the most part, can now be more accurately described as criminalized.  The camouflages and subterfuges go only so far, and are largely unpersuasive.  As repugnant as criminalized may sound and be, and no matter how much denied and denounced, it must be said and said loudly and unambiguously.

This is neither about government nor politicians in general. That sector has been weighed, dissected, and pronounced upon negatively ad infinitum. Though the verdict is damning, sentencing has been suspended. No, this is about Guyanese engaged in activities that cover a lot of territory ranging from the civic to the charitable to the commercial.  In fact, it is safe and accurate to assert that most spheres of activity are symbolized by a certain distinction and distinctiveness, which incite utter contempt and lasting disgust by the few who travel a straight and narrow line

Here are some real-life everyday Guyanese examples that have mutated into the Guyanese norm, the Guyanese standard. They cry out about a serious deficit of values, of cream complexioned white collar capers that fail to trouble, that produce nary a shrug.  Matters have gotten so capricious that the many instances of financial sleight-of-hand are believed to be righteously inspired, if not proper and ordinary.  This is the upheaval of individual spirit, character and vision to the point of new paradigms and settled mores, but which distance from basic decency, ethics, and honour.  Herein resides the criminalization of the Guyanese conscience trawling up and down the ladder, and across the board; a board now checkered and littered with nuanced illegitimacy.

First, there is the worthy cause, the noble group undertaking.  People answer the call; they are moved to offer a presence; they are also moved to take, to capitalize by scheming on ways to help themselves from limited and scarce resources.  They do so blatantly and without a pang.  It is now run-of-the-mill, and I surmise that many well-meaning bodies are ravaged by such sickness.  It can be debilitating to the few honest souls still around, who look on in disbelief and are saddled with the tough thankless task of confrontation and remediation.  It is the same sordid story over and over again; sometimes it is a PTA, or a non-profit entity, or a fledgling house of worship, or some altruistic group. This is the sweeping continuing tableau of the criminalized Guyanese soul, where the perpetrators of trickery and fraud have become so desensitized and devalued that they see no wrongdoing.  This is how warped minds and matters have become in this benighted land.  As said earlier, this is the new paradigm exemplified by a very low bar, and an incontestably obscene one.

It is the same ugly sleazy saga in the realm of public service.  Public service has come to represent the audaciously sinuous means and opportunities for private gain.  It is by any means (no matter how disguised) and pursued with zeal and vigour that lays waste the assets of a poor struggling place. Public service is also about self-help through exhibiting all manner of borderline, questionable, suspicious conduct. Many times insatiable reckless greed hurls caution into the teeth of contrary winds. Meaning that there is neither restraint nor subtlety nor intelligence.  Rather, there is the now cheerful nonchalance that accompanies egregious misconduct.

Crafty men and women study and conjure fresh ways to prosper at taxpayers’ expense. The gloss of covering paperwork is just so much dross.  Some of the errant brethren proudly claim special lineage; yet they wrap themselves in an increasingly tawdry legacy of grasping and grabbing, even as they grope for innovative manners to plunder the depleting treasury and the conflicted taxpayers. Most of this is expected in sharp pretended commercial hustling.  I am certainly repulsed and sickened when this is beheld in churches, in charities, in communities, and in country.  The nuggets of promise are there to be mined.  They are. To gouge coffers has risen to an art form (perhaps even a science here) and is considered fair, sometimes a duty.  Naturally, there is present that all-purpose defensive refrain reminding that the other people had their time and their share.  So there….  I would not want to be David Granger for all the money and power in the world.  It is more than herding cats; this is about catching flies with a plaster cast on the arm and a closed fist.  He has exposure of which he does not even know.

Transparency and accountability at the bureaucratic level tumble unapologetically on hard unhearing ears and rocky unreceptive soil.  It is just so much show at the official level, and surprising for some of its sources.

It is why tomorrow is always viewed as another day; it brings another dollar, or the occasion to seize some on the sly.  It is merely another squeeze and indicative, by and large, of the free-falling Guyana of today; it undoes the intentions and efforts of the idealistic toilers, and makes their task more difficult.  This is now raw and all too real, as well as fascinating in the watching of the criminal mind and criminal hand in action; this wounding of a nation’s dignity; and this drinking of its anaemic blood by its own sons and daughters now reduced to routine criminality.  President Granger looks older and more tired; he is careful not to appear disgusted or perturbed.  If I had snakes in the bosom I would have been worse off.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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