It has been said and written that this country suffers from a crisis of confidence. I think it would be more accurate to state that Guyana has experienced a confluence of crises, arguably many such confluences. And when all is aggregated and analyzed carefully and unsparingly, the state of this wretched state distils to this: Guyana is degraded by a crisis of fundamentals.
At every level ‒ rich and poor, leaders and followers, pious and nonbelieving ‒ there is this overpowering debilitating crisis of fundamentals. What are these fundamentals, or lack of them that so afflict this fragile many times infantile nation?
These would have to include the fundamentals of integrity and dependability; of unambiguous decency and simple dignity; of leadership by example and leadership from behind. Cumulatively, it is about credibility and all-encircling honesty. Who among local leaders can lay claim to any of this, even some consistent significant stream of this in their history, in their actions? I look around in vain, as there is none standing completely upright, or ready to be blessed with accolades of differentiating accomplishments that have lifted this nation, all of it.
To be sure, there is likability to some degree and from rigidly defined segments. That is the curse; because discernment is strangled and interpretations skewed, so the swirling verdicts of encomia start at the very base – the broad bigotry of dishonesty. Such is the retardation of a nation and its peoples all committed cultishly to the blind, the ugly, and the self-deceiving. Leaders themselves, and the surrounding cast of hundreds of thousands, altogether scorn measuring up to financial rectitude, ethical purity, racial sanctity, and moral immaculacy; accordingly there is little left to lean on in terms of trustworthiness, or of promise. It is why there is always chatter in this land about potential; a century from now, if root and branch changes are refused to be acknowledged and implemented, then the talk will continue to be about potential, and no more. A real nation cannot have any meaningful destiny, other than what Guyana has had from birth, and promises to grace it to its grave, once it continues to adhere to what has drained its lifeblood.
Sometime and somehow, and it cannot be by some of the people alone; there has to be dogged insistence on living by certain basic fundamentals; on being governed by sacred codes of honour, principle, and fairness. This must apply in this society whether high or low, ghetto or church, on the periphery and in a wide middle. Citizens have to hold each other’s feet to the fire in terms of accountability and transparency, and then demand same of government in all of its branches; there must be individual responsibility, and a great willingness to do what is right. To transform this hodgepodge assembly of associations into a true nation, baseline integrity, respect, and self-respect cannot be intangibles rendered invisible through the inertia of indifference. This nation cannot progress a single step as long as it applauds and admires, and conceals and condones wrongdoing in the skeletal architecture of institutions, schools, churches, and communities, among other vital places and things. It is as fundamental as this, and in each of the sectors named, there are either settled or burgeoning crises.
There has to be great and sharp condemnation of those who appear to speak out against all that is troubling, only for themselves to be exposed as engaging surreptitiously in self-help and self-gratification. Who is there then to teach and inspire those following? How to build on such foundations concocted on double standards, double speak and double dealing where ripping-off guarantees lifting off? Look carefully in the context of Guyana, and there is scant distinction between friend and foe, especially political ones. It is the mindset that all are ripe and ready for plucking, for misleading, and for the invariable evading.
How did this society lose its anchor? How and when did it hurtle exuberantly and irrationally from the disciplined harbours that functioned as protective custodians? From my perspective, the loss and ensuing crisis of fundamentals is directly traceable to destructive epochs characterized by rank opportunism and total disregard for law or order or civility; in effect, this is a smooth guileless descriptive. More accurately, it is about hustle in the absolute worst meaning of the word. Today, hustle is a rollickingly deformed adult in the forms of narcotics, money laundering, nationwide corruption, divisions, and individualism bereft of values or restraint. Systems and standards deteriorate to the lowest common denominator; it is one that impresses too many.
Editor, for a tiny population this is too much, as the contagion of crises and sleaze, and the concomitant radioactivity, cannot be quarantined given the infinite correlations amongst participants. Just check with the new government. There are cancers through and through; what is known brings dread. This is the lengthy charcoal grey twilight that has been a Guyana now immersed in avalanches of the devastating, with more thick darkness in the making. I have heard it said repeatedly that this country is gone. But gone to where? And then where does it go from there? Hope springs where? That is the challenge to be faced by each citizen still trying, still listening.
Speaking for myself only, I take in that timeless prayer: amidst the encircling gloom, lead thou me on. Lead thou me on until the night is gone…