by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 14 November 2007)
I knew full well that when I wrote a column about the need for naysayers – or rather those who voice their dissent of the government – that a few of my fellow dissenters would balk at my suggestions that we should at least attempt to be somewhat objective.
Dear Sweet and Sensitive Freddie Kissoon said he not only did not know what a naysayer was (get a dictionary, Freddie dear), but that he preferred the term “critical commentator.” Fine, but this is just splitting hairs. In the long run there still needs to be at least a tinge of objectivity in the nation’s “critical commentators.”
This debate is long overdue. Should there be any acknowledgement of the progress the PPP has recently made? If not; why not? Is it not intellectually dishonest to go on our merry ways and pretend as if the Jagdeo administration has done nothing at all? I for one will not allow myself to become so petty and small-minded.
I do understand the dogmatic stance of some, including the rigid and inflexible Freddie, because when one is in the middle of the situation, it becomes quite difficult to be open-minded.
For example, before I even wrote the column in question, I told my husband that I could see the need for objectivity so clearly from where I stand (which is far away from Guyana).
However, when he questioned me on what I would say if someone told me about the great things the Bush administration has done for America, my response was that this lousy adminsitration has done nothing good whatsoever for the people of the US or the world at large.
Yet I am an independent observer when it comes to Guyana and my column reflects as much.
As an aside, I also believe women have a different leadership style than men and although I can be as cut throat as any male columnist, I also know full well that cut throat politics leaves us all bleeding and dead.
Lets look at this situation for what it really is, the government was hired by the people to do a job and after failing for so long to do that job effectively, it certainly cannot hurt to take a second to acknowledge any move the government makes in a positive direction.
I truly feel it is important to acknowledge the fact that the government is finally attempting to do something. I am not suggesting that all voice of dissent should halt. I am just saying we should clap our hands for the fact that something is finally happening.
As mentioned in my column about naysaying that Freddie rebutted, I know that a consultation paper from Minister Manickchand does not necessarily translate into something productive for society. However, I am at least willing to acknowledge that the first step has been taken to climb a very long flight of stairs. Surely there is some graciousness in Freddie somewhere to allow for this.
I intend to watch this paper through to its completion – which includes the law enforcement and judicial aspects of any legislation passed – and if nothing comes of it, I will be the first to be yelling from the rooftops – as I always have been concerning women’s issues.
I am not interested in giving up by allowing the government to walk all over the people. I simply believe it would not hurt to build bridges. Burning bridges leaves the nation divided. Guyana needs leaders who have the capacity to build bridges.
I know a man who burns his bridges with every person with whom he has a disagreement. He will never accomplish what he wants to accomplish in life because he does not know how to lay his egocentric pride aside long enough to see the whole picture.
It is such a small thing for someone as intelligent as you are, Freddie, to acknowledge the work of others, even if it promises but a small advancement. I do not wish to think you – one of Guyana’s great minds - incapable of such benevolence.
If those who fight for the good of the people in Guyana are never able to see the bigger picture, which includes both the good and the bad from the government, the nation will always be at odds and little will change in the next few years.
Do not stop the fight for true democracy. Do not quit the struggle for a better life. But do not be so rigid that it becomes impossible to be intellectually honest about any progress occurring around the nation or to be gracious when steps are made in a positive direction.
I stand by my assertion that a small amount of objectivity from those who attempt to keep the government accountable could go a long way toward breaking down the walls that separate this nation.
Really now, what could it hurt to be objective? The rigid reed will break with the wind, but the flexible reed will grow tall. Honestly Freddie, if anyone’s mind is in danger of decline – it is your rigid mind – not my gracious mind.
Dearest Freddie, I will be sure to get the book you mentioned on my next trip to the bookstore as I am always looking for a good read. And of course I would love to meet your family on my visit. I also think it would be interesting to experience the many sights and sounds of Guyana through your eyes and ears.
However, I do not agree with this course of rigidity you have plotted and I refuse to become that person who cannot see good when it is staring me in the face. Such a stance by any commentator cannot be productive for Guyana.