I am currently sorting old files and papers with a view to bringing some semblance of order into my chaotic personal archive and to preserve what may deserve preserving. It is an interesting exercise and I am discovering things I wrote long ago which I had forgotten.
I am reproducing here one such piece dated December 1988 which I consider provides a teachable moment for two reasons. First, it is a reminder of one of Guyana’s most talented and creative sons at a time when it seems so easy to forget those who have rendered great service in the past.
And, secondly, it may also be a reminder to those in authority in government – or indeed, in any organization – of the absolutely vital importance of not favouring inferior performance simply because it is subservient. Good and progressive administration depends on attracting the gifted and the creative even if not docile and always accommodating the party line. Any administration infected by yes-men is a recipe for failure and mediocrity…..
More than once I have quoted what the great historian Edward Gibbon wrote in his Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire: history, he wrote, is “little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.” The latest crimes are as bad as ever.
Sometimes, not often enough I suppose, amidst the ordinary joys and tribulations of everyday living – the problems of planning for the immediate future, keeping track of what is going on in this beautiful and hideous world, enjoying a few drinks and laughter with the boys, the abundant joys and occasional trials of family life, the harassment of daily living – the mind does occasionally set upon great questions of life and death.
Having spent 52 years of my life in the sugar industry, including working closely with governments and regional institutions along the way, if there is one thing I have learned it is the extreme frailty of all grand plans.
We have to look forward to a long and terrible age of increasing and fearsome devastation.
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