The ‘Letters to the Editor’ section of newspapers exposes me to the opinions and concerns of my fellow citizens, enlightens and enriches my understanding of unfolding social dynamics and underscores the fact that freedom of speech is still alive in Guyana.
Until now, I have resisted mind-bursting temptations to respond to any of those letters, however, the one by Mr Lincoln Lewis, which appeared in Sunday Stabroek on 27th August, vanquished all resistance. The letter seems to be calling on Lindeners to rise up (again) and fight for our right to have a TV station; from that perspective I see a violation of the first law of life: self preservation, because it has the potential of plunging this region into another bout of destruction and danger to life and limb.
Permit me to quote from the letter:
- “Lindeners by their actions have historically demonstrated that they are prepared to hold any government accountable.”
- “From what is taking place it is evident the political leadership is out to punish some and expect them to grovel and compromise for their rights.”
- “Moses Nagamootoo… is in the forefront of carrying out this wicked and vindictive policy of deprivation; (Since citizens have 24×7 internet/cable access to first-class worldwide coverage of world events, entertainment, sports, politics and everything educational, where is the justification for the sinister employment of the provocative words ‘wicked’ ‘vindictive’ and ‘deprivation’ if not to agitate?)
- “Africans, civil-rights minded individuals as well as independent media fraternity must speak out and help to bring an end to the injustice to the Linden community…”
- “History has taught all peoples that nothing substantial to improve their living conditions and advance their rights comes without struggle, and in some instances loss of life.”
- “I have rage about this blatant discrimination against Linden, Region 10 and efforts to break the backs of resistance when only through such resistance has society achieved anything.”
To justify his call for renewed struggle in the face of what he perceives as discrimination and injustice by the government against the people of Linden, Mr Lewis deliberately and ingeniously connects the above opinions to the fact that government is soon to commission four broadcasting stations (note: not four TV stations) in four Amerindian communities.
Lindeners would, hopefully, find the resolve to resist all calls for renewed struggle in the very fact that Mr Lewis mentions that despite the 2012 agreement there is still no TV station, and ignore the subtle calls being increasingly made by agitating commentators, who seem bent on plunging this region back into the murky, muddy, mind-boggling waters of confrontational politics. Lindeners should see that the “struggle” amounted to no more than a monumental waste of time, wanton destruction to property, massive business losses and the tragic loss of three persons who could have been here today making invaluable contributions to the region’s development and that of their families.
One cannot help but wonder if the self-appointed do-gooders of this country realize that over 8000 school leavers have joined the band of persons looking for employment this month; that among them are graduates from Linden/Region 10 who will not be able to attend UG because they cannot access financial support and whose chances of finding gainful employment are virtually non-existent. From this perspective the cause of a TV station pales into absolute insignificance.
And which investor will even contemplate creating a business in an area made volatile by instigators of de-stabilizing activity?
One cannot help but wonder if those who profess concern about Lindeners have realistic solutions for:
- the problems of chronic shortage of affordable housing for persons who, with their children, continue to exist on the basic daily minimum wage;
- the continuing problems associated with the shortage of medicines at our hospitals;
- residents having to pay private contractors to remove garbage despite paying rates and taxes;
- flooding of the town in 2017, which severely disrupted commercial activity.
These are only some of the real problems affecting Linden; they consign the fight for a TV station firmly in the least important column of the ‘To Do’ list.
The irony is that the “struggle” and the resultant, unnecessary and unjustifiable hardships inflicted on the people across this region were thousands of times more costly than the problem it set out to solve. (It was never about a TV station; it was about the sudden increase of electricity tariffs).
Why didn’t the leaders take the matter to the courts of law? The answer is very simple and there for any independent thinker to see; it was never going to give them the public exposure they craved and which they used the people of this region to achieve.
In referring to the lessons of history, Mr Lewis conveniently omitted some other pertinent facts:
- that many protests/struggles such as ‘2012’ are orchestrated by aspiring leaders who pretend to know what is best;
- that those aspirants cleverly whip up a frenzy among the excitable by persuading them to believe that they had a justifiable cause;
- that they have the people’s interest at heart when, in fact, all many of them want is an opportunity to satisfy the dynamics of their own agendas;
- that street-protests inevitably attract hooligan, trouble-making, destructive elements;
- that all such elements of destruction could never be controlled in such situations and they inevitably hijack the purpose of and the demonstrations/struggle;
- that since all the above are proven by the same history Mr Lewis refers to, the “struggle” should never have been called on to the streets;
- that the issue would have been better resolved through our courts of law.
After all that has transpired, how could anyone who has a sacred regard for human life and an understanding of the trauma so cruelly inflicted on this Region fail to admit that even if/when a TV station becomes a reality the cost could never ever be justified?
And since that is also what history teaches us, no mentally emancipated person in the Region should even be inclined to lend an ear to the not-so-subtle suggestions that are being made to return to the road to court certain disaster by persons who have nothing to lose.