by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 15 October 2006)
The new Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, told the nation this past week that he was worried about the younger generation being drawn into the criminal underworld because it offers such lucrative enticements.
In a Kaieteur News article from October 11entitled, “Growing underworld activities worry Home Affairs Minister,” the minister said, “The answer to this is not to become gullible or susceptible to the underworld, nor to seek to gain fast and easy money, because fast and easy money is not the solution. The solution is hard work and dedication to certain principles.”
Allow me to first say that I share the Minister’s concern about the pervasive criminal element that seems to be infiltrating every aspect of society in Guyana. The lawlessness and disregard for life emanating from these demented minds have reached alarming heights.
At the same time, it is truly ironic to see such concern from any part of a government that has conveniently looked the other way while this criminal population has grown exponentially over the past year or two. The time for the PPP to be concerned was at the start of this madness, not after it has become an out-of-control monster.
However, I will give the good minister the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge his ostensible concern as if he is just now discovering the depth to which crime has infested the nation. To accept this apparent ignorance, we must all wear our greenest state of mind.
How else would we possibly be able to swallow the simplicity of the aforementioned statement from the Minister of Home Affairs when he tells the youth of Guyana to shun fast and easy money for hard work and dedication to certain principles?
I cannot help but wonder if he could hear how incredulous his statement sounded when he said it aloud. I suppose he wants the youth to choose from all of those lucrative career choices created by the PPP instead.
Or maybe he thinks the younger generation will cheerfully shun a life of crime to adhere to a life of hard work that will ultimately never pay their bills, get them their own house or will get them killed as a business owner, like so many who have been murdered lately.
This is his solution for ridding the nation of this criminal underworld of which he is so concerned? Who is truly the gullible one in this story?
While I am sure Rohee has chosen a life of “hard work and dedication to certain principles,” just like a monk who has chosen a life of monetary sacrifice and material minimalism, I have my doubts as to whether we can or should expect this from Guyana’s youth.
As a great portion of the world moves along at lightning speed in areas of technology, medicine and other modern advancements, it is the criminals who have made the most noticeable progress in Guyana, as Rohee also pointed out in the article.
Yet we are to expect the nation’s youth, who long for those modern gadgets and gismos they see being advertised, to defer to the monkish qualities buried deep within and shun the opportunity to make enough to buy a cell phone or drive a nice car.
This is the Minister’s solution to the encroaching criminal underworld? How probable is it to believe that in today’s generation of materialism, the youth will choose hard work that will seldom afford them an opportunity to buy their own home over a remorseful conscience from robbing the businessperson down the street?
I am in no way justifying criminal activity in any form, I am simply pointing out that Guyana’s youth have very, very few alternative lifestyles from which to choose.
The government offers very little for the future of the youth by way of educational advancement, career opportunities or financial security. In fact, with murder incessantly in the air, one can easily understand why the youth would choose a few fast dollars to enjoy life for a while before they too are killed.
This mindset might seem a bit extreme, but I would bet it is not too far removed from what many of Guyana’s youth contemplate on a daily basis. We need only to ask some of those locked up why they chose their lifestyle to verify this analysis of the situation.
I am sure there are some who will choose to do the right thing no matter what, but poverty and desperation can make even the noblest person commit some of the most abhorrent acts. Yet Rohee says, “The solution is hard work and dedication to certain principles.”
I vehemently disagree with the minister. In fact, the real solution to the growing criminal element, Mr. Minister, is to offer the youth viable alternatives to a life of crime, like a marketable education, a thriving economy and promising future outside of criminal activity.
It is embarrassing to think that Rohee believed he was actually addressing this issue by offering such a simplistic statement to address this complex crisis. So he acknowledges the problem. So he is worried. So he blames deportation. What is new? The PPP says the same type of nonsense on a daily basis about any number of issues.
And we just get more smoke and mirrors, but do we really need to be intellectually insulted as well? I think Rohee should tell the families of all those business people killed in the last month that their hard work and dedication to certain principles has paid off for them and see how they react.
It is Rohee and the rest of his pals who should be adhering to this creed of “hard work and dedication to certain principles.” If they had been following this creed all along, perhaps Guyana’s youth would not have to choose between life of crime and a life of poverty.