Sunday, May 30, 2010

If every country had a Freddie Kissoon the world would be a better place

(Letter to the Kaieteur News Editor 05/30/10)

Dear Editor,

Of all the possible things a person can throw on another person, some miscreant chose to throw feces on Sweet and Sensitive Freddie Kissoon.

This man could have thrown water on Freddie, or pieces of paper, or rose petals.
But no, the scoundrel threw sh*t on poor, poor Freddie. This has to be a new low for even the most depraved of minds.

Let us take a moment to acknowledge what many have either already said or thought. Freddie can be a real big pain in the umm, rear. I’d bet he would even get on a holy man’s last nerve some days. Moreover, he truly isn’t all that sensitive anymore. And after this week, he probably does not smell all that sweet either.

Now, having acknowledged the obvious, it is clear that Freddie handled a very er, stinky, situation like the hero we all know him to be deep down inside. (Very, very deep down) He dealt with the whole fiasco using more grace and finesse than most of us would have been able to manage.

After all, Freddie is not just a columnist in Guyana. He is Guyana’s columnist. (No matter how stinky and insensitive he is) My initial reaction to the news was mixed with sadness and outrage. Is this how a journalistic icon should be treated? Hell no!

No matter that Freddie takes no prisoners. No matter that the whole country trembles with the thought of being caught in the cross-hairs of his angry pen. Freddie Kissoon symbolises the ongoing struggle toward a fair and just Guyana. As such he should be able to write whatever he wants regardless of who he hurts in the process. That’s only fair and just – right?

Sarcasm aside, the nastiness of this act against Freddie disgusts me. Even if one doesn’t always agree with his politics (which I don’t) and even if one thinks he crosses the line all too often (which I do), Freddie is one of the most important things that is right about Guyana. If every country had a Freddie Kissoon, the world would be a better place.

Pause for just a moment and consider what Guyana would be like without Freddie Kissoon. Sure, we might be able to digest breakfast a bit better since we wouldn’t be fretful over his abrasive writing tactics. However, beyond that, without Freddie Kissoon this nation would not have one of its staunchest advocates.

Let’s face it; we are never really sure how many of the other “advocates” are just blowing smoke.
Their words say one thing and their actions say something completely different. With Freddie, we always know where we stand – and we always know where he stands (glad it was far from me this week – phew!).

In short, Freddie Kissoon is not perfect (far from it) but Guyana needs this man.

A good man is not made up of what someone else throws on him; he is a culmination of what is in him. President Jagdeo may well be a “Champion of the Earth,” but Freddie Kissoon is Guyana’s Champion.

Stella Ramsaroop

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We deserve better leaders

(Letter to Kaieteur News Editor - 05/26/10)

Dear Editor,

As I gazed at a video of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from a ruptured British Petroleum oil well, all I could think is, “what a mess!” My heart wrenched when considering the loss of sea life and the long-term environmental impact of this mess.

My next thought was that surely we could do better than this. Surely we can find leaders who will protect us from such catastrophes. We deserve better than this.

I had similar thoughts concerning the circumstances surrounding the most recent scandals to hit Guyana. What a mess! Surely Guyana can find leaders who can guard it from such indignity. And yes, the people of Guyana deserve better than this.

We need good leaders, not leaders who prove they despise their social contract with the people by their actions. Most times the political sphere seems more like a frat party than a collection of a nation’s best minds.

Yes, I am aware that power corrupts. I also know there is a certain psychological make-up that is pulled toward positions of power. In other words, there is a certain “type” of person who is drawn toward power and too often these are not the “types” who should be in power.

For example, there are very few people (thankfully) who could or would play games with the lives of others. I cannot even begin to consider using another person as a pawn for my own political or personal gain. Those who can do this are dangerous to the rest of us.

On the other hand, those who would be the best leaders – the ones who truly want to represent the interests of the people - are also the type of people who cannot stomach the political environment created by those who seek power.

Moreover, even if those good leaders do find a way to stick it out in a sick political atmosphere they oft times find they must “play the game” to get anything done for the people. Thus, they become part of the problem when they could have been the start of the solution.

It turns my stomach when leaders scorn the people they represent. Politicians think the people are ignorant. They believe the people to be gullible. When in reality, the people are given a choice of leaders of whom they know nothing except what those leaders present themselves to be in public.

It is the job of the journalists to discover and report the truth about a leader. Politicians and people alike throw scathing words (and now, evidently, fecal matter) at journalists, but if journalists do not tell us what our leaders are up to, who will?

Our leaders should be protecting society. They should be enriching society. They should be the ones on whom we can depend and in whose hands we can entrust our future. Instead, they are the ones from whom we hide our children. They are the ones to whom we point and tell our children to never follow their example.

We must find a remedy for this situation. I cannot say that I know what that remedy is right now. I do not. But a remedy must be found – and soon. For as long as it takes us to find a way to cure this sick political atmosphere, we continue to be led by leaders who no one should be following.

Stella Ramsaroop