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The birth of independent Guyana in 1966 came after centuries of struggle of the many peoples who came here either by force or their own volition. There is a commonality in our struggle, rooted in man’s innate desire to be treated with respect and dignity. This had allowed us to set aside differences, superficial or real, and rallied around the belief that with independence together we can build a country of ” One People, One Nation, One Destiny.”
Ours is a motto that recognises the oneness of us as human beings in purpose and goal. We have created laws to ensure this, including an education structure that not only prepares us to meaningfully develop self and nation, but one that teaches us to appreciate our diversity, positively acknowledge the contributions of our forebears in the liberation struggle, and appreciate our diversity as strength not weakness or threat.
None can deny they want to be treated as equal participating members of society, to enjoy equal protection and respect under the laws, to be assured the resources of the state will be managed in a manner by every government-whether you elected them or not-in their best interest. The challenge that arises from these established foundational principles of democratic societies is though these are recognised as universal truths some seem inclined not to want universal application.
In our daily lives we are confronting situations where right is wrong and wrong is right depending on who does what or says what to whom, when, where and how. There is the absence of universal truths and the will to apply same. We continue to question our judicial system where some see it as ruling not on law but politics. We have leaders who opt to express dissent with their opponents not on sober reasoning but emotionalism, classifying rivals as sub-human. The disrespect is manifest in the management of the state, the distribution of vital resources and exclusion of some.
While Guyana was founded on diversity, this is no longer seen as strength but a threat to deny inclusion by practicing othering. Othering as defined by the online McMillian Dictionary is “treating people from another group as essentially different from and generally inferior to the group you belong to.”
The recent election has taught us our challenges are real and by necessity must be faced, not ignore, deny or run from. The vitriol that flowed in the aftermath of E-Day, the recount, to the declaration and continues to date has left citizens bruised, angry, fearful, buoyant about the future, depending on political support. Stories of public sector workers having their contracts prematurely terminated or being called on to leave or be forced out is chilling. Admittedly, some of these persons were political appointees serving in advisory capacity, but it would be difficult for any government to assuage concern that terminating professional workers is not politically motivated.
And in this era, like other nations, Guyana is confronting the challenges of the deadly coronavirus, COVID-19. And where for the good of all it makes sense to have a national cohesive response the politics has gotten in the way, again. The current administration when it was in opposition refused to join with the then government in the management of the pandemic. Now that they are in office the opposition has been excluded. It is not only political petty but national tragedy to think that there could be a collective response to this pandemic when others are being deliberately excluded.
As matter of urgency the partisan politics must be cast aside for the good of this nation. Lives, livelihood, the development and future of Guyana are at stake. The safety, wellbeing and security of Guyanese must no longer be sacrificed at the altar of political vindictiveness, exclusion or retaliation. We are all citizens of this beautiful nation and must feel the safety and security that ought to come from living within her bosom.
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