(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 20 June 2010)
There has been marked difference in the politics of Guyana in the last couple years. The division between the incumbent party and the opposition parties has deepened dramatically. Moreover, the tone of this division is so acerbic at times that one could choke on it.
This division, once reserved for the politicians and pundits, seems to have filtered into society at large to such a degree that one has to question the "One People, One Nation" notion; though “One Destiny” is most certainly all but written in stone.
There are many raising their voices – on all sides of the issues - to call others to struggle toward a direction they honestly believe to be in the nation’s best interest. But what these voices are saying most times causes further rifts and breaks the nation apart piece by piece.
Sadly, those with the loudest voices are not promoting unity or finding a way to work together for a better nation. Instead, those voices vilify entire sections of society - entire political parties or entire races.
It seems to me, this current course will lead nowhere productive. In fact, it is outright destructive. The prevailing racial boundaries that also define the political lines are nationally masochistic. Let's face it, Guyana will always have an Afro-Guyanese population and Guyana will always have an Indo-Guyanese population. As such, the most logical action would be to find a way to work together for the mutual good of all.
There are many who have escorted Guyana to this point in history. The people have followed their leaders and this is where the leaders have brought them. Each party vilifies the other. Each race vilifies the others. Those who condemn can see no redemptive value in those on the other side. Hurtful and inciting remarks are tossed about without regard of who will be hit by these verbal bombs. What a sad state of affairs.
And, worst of all, the media outlets are caught up in the name-calling and blame shoving, too! So much so that too frequently reading a news story feels like watching a child’s tantrum. In fact, there is so much editorializing in news stories that I have had to sometimes check to make sure what I am reading is not an opinion piece. And don’t get me started on the commentary and ridiculous “letters.” What the hell happened to an objective press?
Where are the wise men and women who will stand up to mediate this hostile environment? Where are the peacemakers who see both sides of the issue and can offer compromising solutions to avoid violent conflicts? Why is it that we are forced to choose a side or be considered weak? In reality, those who cannot open their minds to goodness in all peoples regardless of party affiliation or race are the weak ones.
Yes, I recognize there are bad people all around us and I believe we must consistently work toward the expulsion of those “bad apples” from leadership positions. However, I also know full well that not everyone in the PPP/C is a devil. Not everyone from the PNC/R is a scoundrel. And it is quite clear that not everyone in the AFC is a saint. Moreover, not every police officer is corrupt. In fact, there are probably just a few devils and scoundrels that give the rest a bad name.
When we paint with such broad strokes, we fail to see how diversity is actually a beautiful thing. The diversity that defines Guyana could be so beautiful if it were not used as a catalyst for hatred. Why are there no politicians championing the diversity of Guyana? Why do so many leaders use it to divide the people instead?
If you are a leader who constantly vilifies anyone who sides with another party - then you are part of the problem and should either change your ways or remove yourself from the public eye. In general, politics is full of pettiness, but this behaviour breeds deepened division – it does not encourage unity.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The enduring method of politics in Guyana does not work for the majority of the people. It might work for a very few, but that is no way to ensure democracy – or stability.
To make things worse, it now seems the one party that championed unity, the AFC, is considering abandoning its promise of leadership rotation and reverting to the same method that has never worked. Insanity.
The elections are right around the corner and all the politicians will be promising change. But unless that change includes finding a way to bridge the gap between the races in Guyana, nothing else will ever change.
Sure, there might be some nifty new infrastructure developments or some social programs instituted, but as long as political boundaries are drawn along racial lines in Guyana, there will always be the chance of violent conflict. Is that the legacy the children will inherit - hatred and violence?
Therefore, when the race card is played in the next year leading up to the election – and there is absolutely no doubt that it will be – just remember that those who are playing that game do not want the best for Guyana. They want fear. They want hatred. They want division. And they want all of this for their own selfish reasons.
The only leader who deserves a vote for Guyana is the one who can and will bring unity.