by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 09 July 2006)
Heroes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are teachers who are heroes, parents who are heroes and, for some odd reason that I cannot understand, heroes can be found in almost every type of sports.
However, there is one shape in which I am sure a hero should never be found – in the form of a criminal.
Sweet and Sensitive Freddie suggested that Guyana should move on from the Khan saga in his column last Friday. I agree to the extent that there has certainly been a lot of drama about this man who has been accused of all sorts of contemptible acts.
I have been watching this whole saga with great interest because there was so much I did not understand. I did not understand why the government would not move to apprehend a known criminal. Or why there were some in a society overwhelmed with crime who actually held a criminal in such high regard.
There have been so many twists and turns to this storyline that it has been difficult to keep up at times. The last couple of weeks have been very enlightening to me now that more people have been speaking their minds on the subject. I have had more than a handful of "ah hah!" moments lately as one by one the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
As such, I feel like it is time for me to finally speak on the subject as well. There is so much that could be discussed and debated on this subject, but in the end I feel there is only one overarching point that has continually assailed my subconscious throughout this whole ordeal – that Guyana is desperate for a hero.
This is a natural phenomenon of course. I do not believe there has ever been a time when humans have not sought out leaders who can be a beacon of hope and a standard of goodness. Yet in its desperate search for effective leadership, Guyana instead found a criminal cloaked in a champions facade.
I do not wish to debate what crimes this would-be hero is or is not guilty of committing. The list of accusations has included all sorts of fiendish acts including murder, drug smuggling and organised crime. A person guilty of even one of these acts is no hero. That person is a criminal.
Has Guyana become so frantic for a hero that it has turned to common criminals for leadership? From the outside looking in, this certainly seems to be the case. And if this is indeed the case, the implications of such a desperate act speaks volumes of those who are actually suppose to be the leaders of the nation.
Those things we consider noble and good quickly dissipate in a decadent environment. Debauchery and depravity replace the lost innocence and faith. What else can one expect? Criminals will rule the only way they know how – with criminal acts.
It is not as if criminals are going to stop their reign of terror and start living the life of an upstanding and productive citizen of society just because the people view them as a type of saviour. In fact, the criminal-minded will exploit that public trust in every possible way until they have drained the entire nation of every last ounce of goodness.
This is exactly what has happened to Guyana. While some naively believed they had found a saviour, they had unwittingly fallen into a trap that brought nothing but more anguish, torment and destruction.
Guyana cannot allow this misplaced loyalty to filter its way down to the next generation. If parents and leaders regard a criminal with high esteem, what sort of signal does that send to the youth of the nation? The children will naturally believe crime is good.
The whole concept of a criminal as a hero is so distorted that it reminds me of the false sense of family that gang life offers to a teenager seeking his/her identity in life. Looking for a hero amongst criminals is like looking for a delicate bloom in a landfill for trash.
For the life of me I cannot understand why some in a nation would embrace a criminal as a hero and at the same time snub other Diaspora who comes back to help their motherland using proper and legal channels. It really does seem as if Guyana shoots itself in the foot sometimes.
There are plenty of better places to look for heroes rather than criminal alley. For example, the father who works hard every day and loves his family – that is a hero. The single mother who finds a way to put food on the table for her children – that is a hero. The teacher who uses his/her own personal time to tutor a student who has fallen behind the rest of the class – that is a hero.
The doctor who treats his patients with dignity and respect – that is a hero. The politician who puts the people before money or power – that is a hero. The average Guyanese who is simply trying to live an honest and good life in a nation where crime is rampant – that is a hero.
Guyana is absolutely full of heroes. In fact, I bet you're sitting next to a hero right now. However, apathy and lethargy in the ranks of the nation's heroes has created a vacuum effect causing leadership examples of good behaviour to be sucked out while examples of bad behaviour have gladly replaced it.
What should Guyana's next move be? It would be good for the nation's heroes to start taking their proper place as leaders. It would also be wise to start putting the criminals behind bars where they belong so the youth of the nation can maintain the right perspective when it comes to right and wrong behaviour.
Guyana does not need a criminal saviour. It just needs for the citizens to band together as one nation for good and stop making excuses for the criminals who kill, rape, rob and deal drugs.