Monday, September 18, 2006

Stella Says…I refuse to succumb to the fear and bitterness

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 17 September 2006)

I received some interesting responses to my column from Thursday in which I asked who was in charge of the PPP/C and the country. It was very enlightening to find out what some of the people in general really think about the ruling government.

However, there was one email from earlier this week that stuck with me and caused me to do a re-evaluation of myself. Journalists as a whole are not to let their true feelings show when writing a news article. However, a columnist has a little more room to examine current events and political phenomenon.

As such, the reader knows the opinion section of the paper, which usually includes an editorial, some columns and letters to the Editor from the public, should be taken with a grain of salt. The reader will agree with some opinions and disagree with others.

This whole exercise of promoting free speech and volleying ideas back and forth is not only healthy, but it can be highly productive. However, this week I received an email asking me why I am so mean to the PPP. Of course, this caused me to immediately employ a self-evaluation on whether I gratuitously targeting the PPP.

I found the answer to my self-probe in the email itself, which detailed the atrocities Indo-Guyanese suffered under PNC rule and how much better life was now under the PPP (that is supposedly trying its best).

It is not that I do not know of the sufferings of the Indo-Guyanese under the PNC. I have family who lived through it and I have kind readers, like this one, who remind me of these sufferings every chance they get.

Likewise, it is not that I do not care about what happened all those decades ago or wish to forget Guyana's past with a wave of a hand. I value the lessons of history far too much to excuse such important matters that contribute to the formation of a nation and a people.

The reason I can so easily evaluate the PPP based on international standards of political, economical and democratic growth is because I choose to view the party by the condition of the nation today and not in comparison to how things were decades ago.

It is because I choose to hold the government of Guyana to the same standards that I would hold any other country in the world that my analysis of their performance is untainted by bitterness of the past or fear of the future.

In America, the citizens are too busy to remember the failures and sins of their leaders from week to week and therefore put incompetent politicians in power out of sheer laziness or ignorance. In Guyana, the citizens remember every failure and sin with bitter resentment and maintain that they would rather die before allowing such a situation to occur again.

Meanwhile the politicians play on this fear and use it to maintain their power. If I ever wondered about how far the PPP would go to stay in power, my questions were answered when I saw "The Great Pretender" commercial. Guyana's very own government used flashes of racial violence to scare their people into submission…and the people did as their were expected.

However, it is not the Afro-Guyanese as a whole who suffer under the PPP rule, it is PNC supporters who experience marginalisation. Afro-Guyanese who support the PPP reap the benefits of that support and Indo-Guyanese who do not support the PPP suffer the consequences of their choice.

Sure, things may be better today than it was during the PNC rule for a portion of the population, but there is another portion of the population for which it is worse. This ought not be. Guyana does not need leaders who value one section of the population more than another.

This is not a sin from decades ago; it is alive wreaking havoc on the nation today. Yet I have Indo-Guyanese who tearfully tell me their stories of marginalisation from the past without giving a second thought to the marginalisation their very own neighbours suffer today.

The PPP today is no better than the PNC was so long ago. In fact, the PPP is the very same in so many regards. Both parties should have been voted out in the last election, but too many people still harbour their fear and bitterness to let go of the past and embrace a better future.

However, I refuse to let the past tarnish my view of what Guyana should really be today if there were a government in power that cared about the well being of all of the people of the nation and not just half of the population.

I am not being mean when I hold Jagdeo, his administration and the PPP to basic standards of acceptable performance. I just refuse to succumb to the fear and bitterness they promote at the expense of the nation's future.

I want to see Guyana grow beyond its racial politics and realise that by holding on to its twenty-year-old wounds it does nothing but chain the entire nation, including the next generation, to the past.

There will be no growth, no prosperity, no economic reforms, no Constitutional reforms, and no social reforms until the people of Guyana can start evaluating the government based on its current political performance and not on the performance of dead men.

The PPP can expect me to continue my "meanness" if it means that they will be held to the higher standards of performance that Guyana deserves.

Email: StellaSays[at]

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