It may not be a case of long awaited sanity coming to the fore here in Guyana, but of good old common sense prevailing. For the first time in a long time, there is a breath of fresh salutary air rising from the moribund body of the sugar industry. In fact, it is not one breath, but of two in near simultaneous succession.
The first was the picture of the assembled pugilists (that’s what they might believe they are, age, stamina, and eyesight notwithstanding) in Stabroek News and Kaieteur News, huddled around the square circle of a conference room. After all the bad talk, bad blood, bad press, and bad vibes, the long and winding road, a real gruelling one, led where it always ends up in human affairs: at the table of deliberation, of striving to carve out consensus, sometimes even when such does not exist.
That media picture may not be the immortal Last Supper, but at least it is representative of the first inkling of collective wisdom, of reciprocal, albeit forced, humility through bowing to the inevitable. I regret that it took so long, generated so much unnecessary anguish, and left so much sure-to-be lingering bitterness. Those have always been the dominant characteristics in this sorry society; it is one lacking in sensibility, in civility, and in integrity of purpose. Brinksmanship might be testosterone inducing and masochistic in result, but the edge of reality, and the far end of the precipice has a lot of uncharted space and empty air. There is little by way of traction when it is needed the most; sugar workers led to that pass found that out the hard way. Perhaps Guyanese political warriors are learning from their peers clustered around the frozen wastes of the 38th parallel.
Editor, there is no interest in learning or identifying today, who resisted, who dissembled, who misled, or who blinked. This, too, is pointless and serves none. There is appreciation that the scant supply of what is sagacious in this land gains the upper hand at crucial junctures, such as this one. When animosities and egos, and ambitions and calculations, are all held in abeyance, then sparks of real and rare progress can result. I believe that the picture of government and unions is not of a thousand words, but of the ten thousand (perhaps a hundred thousand) punctures of pain anaesthetized, and of the poverty hope enriched, if only monetarily.
There was also a second instance of commonsense prevailing through the report of finally agreeing and opening the way for the private sector to weigh in and possibly raise the scales of continuity, giving some of the impacted people and communities a ray of hope, maybe a chance for survival. In a dire and deteriorating situation that demanded all options be considered seriously and none be denied, this rejection of well-meaning involvement was inexplicable. But again, yesterday is yesterday, and must be allowed to remain that way. The condemnations of who should have done what and when are meaningless now; they do not help a single sugar worker and family. They do not help a pulverized and maimed society.
It is time to regroup, and to seize the opportunity to learn that the fruits of obstinacy, though they can be intoxicating, are also potentially toxic and utterly devastating. Sugar may yet be thrown a lifeline of sorts, and rise a little above where it has been of late. Of course, that depends on how that lifeline is grabbed and leveraged.
In all of this I keep learning. It is that one of these days, perhaps in the next millennium, this country will be graced with leadership that is authentically thoughtful, self-sacrificing, and people empowering.