An alien mentality

An alien mentality

Dear Editor,

The strangest of lands is this Guyana of ours. The more I consider it, the more I think it might be the greatest place around, and not for the better things in life, but of the worst. There are good reasons for me saying so.
For, there we were on Tuesday, with our border controversy before the International Court of Justice, and it is as if nothing of any groundbreaking significance-with the real potential for the disturbing and disruptive to our national existence-was happening. I say this because a great number of citizens were as normal and nonchalant as ever, as they went about their daily affairs. I am disgusted and appalled. Here it was that some two thirds of our rich land-and all that was under it and around it and above it-was being coveted by a bigger and more powerful neighbour, a greedy one, and most citizens did not give a hoot.

From what I could observe, I sensed that it may be safe and accurate to say that way over two thirds of our population were disengaged and unconcerned from what was in front of the ICJ. In the next instance, on Wednesday, just about every Guyanese (and their unborn children and departed ancestors) would have tuned in and on the edge of their seats in nail-biting tenseness, when the CCJ convened to hear-what else?-but more of our elections’ farces and humiliations. Talk about a place and people that always seem to get its priorities tangled into an unholy mess, and Guyana and Guyanese stand at the head of the line.

Where is our patriotism? Where is our sense of self and our self-worth? I dare to compare this against the grounded and soaring passions, the unflagging energies, surrounding elections, and the right to access power, and our border matter pales into nothing. Just about every citizen is fixated and consumed (helplessly addicted even) by anything and everything related to Guyana’s elections, and it is almost the complete opposite when engagement in and prioritization of our thorny border dispute with neighbouring Venezuela is the matter at hand, and when there is a probability, no matter how slight, that we could lose a whole lot of what rightly belongs to us, inclusive of all that rich promise.

Where are all the loud muscular people, who are swarming and billowing around elections matters and GECOM, and who have made themselves armchair experts of the nation’s constitution, with the countless local versions of jailhouse interpretations? Why is there not a single citizen peacefully picketing and protesting in front of the Venezuelan Embassy over this longstanding affront to Guyana, if only to remind its officers that we Guyanese take this very seriously and most unwelcomingly? Where are the sturdy patriotic amongst us? I would even make allowance for the jingoistic, given what is involved, and how much of it.

As I sift through these questions, and a host of others, it is clear that we reserve and charge(up) our hostilities and bellicosities (saber rattling, too) for each other, and particularly as such pertains to elections. Nice people, we are! And no better people to have in the foxholes next to us. But only on elections related issues, nothing else. No wonder we are trapped behind our Maginot Line.

I have concluded a long time ago that we are an alien race, us Guyanese. We fight over the wrong things. We select and settle for the wrong enemies. We harbour visions that are wrong in origins, wrong in content, and wrong in their promises. As much as I am loathe to admit it, we are a wrongheaded set of people, who go about living this life in a wrongfooted way, and which, of course, leads nowhere but along the wrong roads, and to the worst of wrongly chosen terminals. I do not have much by way of hope for us. Come to think of it, I would hardly be surprised if my fellow Guyanese were too deeply exercised if, by some remote occurrence, the ICJ were to rule against us. It is just the way we, this most alien of races that is Guyanese brethren.

GHK Lall

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