OP-ED | Norton and confrontation

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By GHK Lall

“The reality is that the PPP has to be confronted and will be confronted…”. Those words and the commitments contained in them were uttered by PNCR Leader and APNU Chairman, Mr. Aubrey Norton in the article captioned, “Norton vows to confront he PPP…but underscores the importance of effective planning” (Village Voice, April 3). Confrontation is past due, and like a mortgage or debt deeply in arrears, there has to be a reckoning. As much as confrontation should be resorted to as a last scenario option, there are times when confrontation becomes not just necessary, but compulsory.

There is the fullness of raw circumstances, the ugliness of national leadership, the depravities and barbarisms heaped and further heaped upon a nation stretches it to the breaking point, if not beyond. It is my position that the compilation of circumstances has converted to a crisis situation where confrontation is about the only viable option left. I add these other thoughts of mine, which I think are a part of the pathway that precedes confrontation, whatever form it takes. And it has many forms, starting from a baseline of intention to those actions that serve as expressions of positions regarding certain conditions that must be met. Must be met, in the non-negotiables of some of them.

It is my outlook in life that communication and consultation should come before confrontation. Both must be given a chance, a good faith rendition, through consistent invitation, engagement, and commitment that are of the most authentic sort. I strongly believe in this as a necessary first step, a precursor to whatever follows. It is not for the record, certainly not of the pro forma variety, that has become the custom and practice of both the PPP Government and its corrupt cult leaders.


Mr. Norton’s words and postures must signal such a commitment to communication and consultation, the real components of spirited and sincere engagement that could stave off the inevitable, the road not desired to be traveled, but which we have somehow always avoided going too far down. I say and insist that communication, consultation, and engagement must be tried before, persevered with, because history has demonstrated to man in all of his eras and in his moments of greatest trials two essential lessons over and over again.

It is that there must be consultation for the kind of meaningful consensus that leads to coherence and cooperation, no matter how limited, how sparse. Because the other lesson is when no such thing is seriously endeavored to be found, then issues and relations deteriorate to the fire and brimstone of confrontation (in whatever character it assumes). Yet it is always to the table of discussion that wounded and limp men return to consider what was rejected before: communication and consultation. Engagement and empowerment with bona fide attitudes and an endless capacity for listening, and hearing. And after all of that, to engage in the correcting, by adjusting positions and doing what was necessary all along.

It doesn’t have to come to the situation where issues have to be dealt with by force. Force of personalities. Force of circumstances that leave no choice. Force of visions that cry out for succor from the tightening accumulated assaults of the day. I think that this is where this arrogant and swaggering PPP Government and its leaders have hurled this society. They will not listen. They refuse to respect. They disdain and dismiss and, not satisfied with those damaging practices, they demonize those who stand in their way.

From Mr. Norton’s words, I detect that his steadfast position is that he, too, has been given a mandate to fulfill, one from which he must not shrink; one from which he must not allow himself to be overwhelmed by the weight of what is arrayed. It is why I notice that he proceeds carefully, like someone gathering his assets, lining up his provisions, steeling himself for what lies ahead. I hear him cautioning his audience(s) that the kind of confrontation he contemplates has many features to it. There is a need for planning and preparation, and the patience that goes along with those two. He may be moving too slowly for some, but I am able to extract the deliberation and determination embedded in his stated courses of action.

I think he is envisioning different scenarios and crafting both advancing and fallback options, as he gears up his campaign for the challenges ahead. As I consider all this, I say we talk cheese, and we talk chalk. But always remember this: our politics, our environment and atmosphere, our passions and the visions that flow from them, all point along certain lines. And since it is expected that I should spell these out, then I will do so right now, and in the sharpest terms acceptable.

We cannot go on a society, as a people, like we have before, and as we are now. We cannot go on as individuals, and individual families and communities in the same anxious, agitated state. That is, knowing that when one gets, the other is ignored, is forced to exist on a combination of charity, contempt, and cast out status. We may have gotten away with living like that, and getting by like that, for a long time with bauxite and sugar and rice and gold. But oil does not afford us the luxury of doing so. There is a volatility and incendiary nature to this blessing and this curse of a commodity. It simply will not let us continue as we have always done before, and not paid the harshest, the worst, of prices for our weaknesses, our obstinacies, and our selfishness.

Like explosives, oil is destructive. This has been its history wherever found. Guyana is no different, and already it is has brought out the worst in the worst of us. The PPP Government fits neatly in the latter. Sometimes confrontation just can’t be avoided, such a necessity it becomes. But first there must be reaching out….

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