Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Stella Says…What does it mean to be pro-West?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 22 August 2007)

In yesterday’s Kaieteur News, our dear Sweet and Sensitive Freddie challenged my assessment of any politician using a pro-West platform to garner support for office. I said it was political suicide to do so and used the recent Lebanese elections to prove my point in part. Freddie maintained that Guyana does not feel the same about the West as those in the Middle East.

Far be it from me to encourage anti-West sentiment. Now anti-Bush sentiment - that is a whole other story. I’ve been against this president’s so-called foreign policy initiatives since it was clear that he intended to attack Iraq no matter what. Moreover, his charade of wanting to spread democracy causes me great ire.

I love chocolate cake. However, if it is shoved in my face because someone is trying to force it on me, even chocolate cake will taste horrible. I feel the same about democracy. Introducing democracy in a nation is a decision that should be brought about by the people because they want it. A nation that has democracy forced on it will despise this idea that is by and large very good.

Bush has done whatever he pleases during his terms in office and America has paid for his insolence in so many ways – including, but not limited to the loss of freedoms, the lives of thousands of servicemen, the compromise of America’s national security and by making the US a laughing stock around the world.

It is amazing what one poor administration can do to change such a strong nation in such a short amount of time. If democracy has one Achilles' heel, it would be the fact that poor leaders can find their way into office and use their power to wreak havoc on the nation – and in America’s case, the world.

Freddie said in his column from yesterday, “Guyana has always been in the orbit of the West.” In the respect that the Guyanese people demand to be governed by representative leaders (as demonstrated by Freddie’s point on their refusal of communism), I would never argue the veracity of this choice. Moreover, there are actually many aspects about the West that I enjoy and would encourage.

However, I also feel the past few years have seen Western democratic principles compromised because of the same leaders elected to protect the people’s inherent freedoms. Likewise, Western corporate leaders have introduced a whole new level of corruption to society. Therefore, at this point in history I think it would be wise for any developing nation to be careful of the Western traits it chooses to emulate.

Bear with me, Freddie dear, as I make a short list of recent Western behaviour that a developing nation should guard against. Firstly, no country should ever attack another country in a “pre-emptive strike” in modern days. It is my position that humans have evolved beyond the need for such primitive actions.

Just imagine if I went to my neighbour and slapped her just because I thought there might be a possibility that she would slap me at some point in the future. Nonsense. Humans are a far more advanced species than to behave in such a manner.

This type of behaviour is childish and would be found on the playground with a bully trying to gain more power through intimidation techniques. Rational thinking adults do not strike before being struck and most certainly a modern society should be above this type of conduct.

Another Western trait I abhor is global ignorance. So many Westerners spend their lives totally oblivious to the plight of the rest of the world. Like the Classical Romans, their gluttony consumes them and they give nary a thought to the millions of starving children around the world, the AIDS overrun regions of Africa or the women who die every day because of the patriarchal sexism so ingrained in our cultures.

However, it is the Western corporate attitude of “step on others before they step on you” that completely repulses me. I love watching my husband do business because he is one of the shining examples of a corporate executive who cares about the people who work in his company.

Meanwhile, I get a kick out of watching the voracious, mean-spirited businessmen/women sink their companies because they pilfer every dime for their own personal gain and leave nothing but a shell to run the business.

In short, I like the free-market, but despise American greed. I would fight tooth and nail to defend my freedoms, but I loathe elected officials who squander those freedoms for malevolent agendas. I give an affirming nod to the predominantly effective judicial systems, but I know there are loopholes and therefore do not trust the system fully.

It seems we are at a point in history in which there are many negative Western traits that are on display for the entire world to see. Freddie insists that Guyanese do not care much about these harmful characteristics. I can understand this thinking because most Americans do not care either.

I suppose I have the ability to put myself in the shoes of an Iraqi woman and can feel her pain. I know that if another country destroyed my country the way Iraq has been decimated, my feelings would be strongly negative toward the destroyers. As an American woman, I find it contemptible that I am connected to the atrocious behaviour of the Bush Administration by association of citizenry.

Be that as it may, I do hope any politician who decides to run on a “pro-West” platform in Guyana has the good sense to draw a line of distinction between the ugly Western traits I have listed (and others) and the Western principles that could be good for the nation.

Also, a politician who simply claims to be pro-West leaves too much to interpretation. For example, my interpretation of pro-West did not leave a good taste in my mouth. Clearly there should be some clarification of the Western principles a politician believes to be important for Guyana.

Even more importantly, I hope the Guyanese people understand that not all Western traits are good traits and can discern between the good and bad traits when choosing “pro-West” leaders. Obviously, the American people were not able to make this distinction.

Email: StellaSays[at]

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