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Op-Ed by Lincoln Lewis
Those who ignore the plight of the poor, marginalised and dispossessed to focus on handshake must not fail to recognise whereas it is nice to be courteous, and the world would be a better place with courteous people, it must be recognised that good governance, human survival and rights take precedence over courtesy in any part of the world.
There are significant sections in society vocalising their pains about being marginalised and discriminated against, but their voices are being ignored. They are told their stories are not true or are being held hostage to some imaginary past that they or their leaders violated others and it is now payback time.
In societies that cares about its people, particularly such as ours where the majority have forebears that suffered historical violations, discriminating against others should be met with national outcries. In a nation that subscribes to universally acceptable principles no citizen should be denied basic rights or be in want.
There is a pompous arrogance where some believe they can and must determine for others, including who must be their leaders, who they must associate with, what they must do, and how they must react even in the presence of oppression and government violence and hostility towards them. Only misplaced notions of superiority will drive some to think they have the right to determine and interpret for others.
Citizens are suffering, constitutional rights are being trampled on with impunity, the government treats with contempt the rights of those who dissent or haven’t supported them at the polls. There is no regard for the political system that mandates inclusionary democracy as outlined in Article 13 in the Constitution of Guyana, nor no demand made for the upholding of same by those preoccupied with a handshake.
There is silence or acquiescence from quarters for escalating corruption and wanton spending of taxpayers’ money. There is no public appeal to restore probity to governance or at least not loud enough.
Sections of this society are hurting and for some who are managing to receive the crumbs from the table, they do so either by putting their dignity under their feet or having it trampled under the feet of others in the name of survival or in the hope that things would one day get better.
Some are so contemptuous of us, even our sacred spaces are no longer sacred. Our pulpits are being commandeered as political platforms by politicians who have no regard for the separation of church and state but find these as ready spaces in their vote buying campaign as religious leaders let them in, in the hope their congregations could benefit from the national patrimony.
People are preoccupied with handshakes in the time of COVID-19 and monkeypox when the World Health Organisation (WHO) has encouraged minimising close physical contact or washing hands immediately after touching in order to mitigate spread of the diseases, both of which are declared public health emergencies.
Serious business of governance, life, health and upholding the rights of others to participate in and benefit from the nation’s patrimony or matters of good governance as prescribed by law and universally acceptable principles, are not of concern.
Something is wrong with a society where people, many of whom are surrogates and mouthpieces of the government, are overly preoccupied with wanting a handshake between the nation’s two premier politicians and not similarly preoccupied with the prevailing violations and transgressions occurring daily.
They are not preoccupied with wanting good governance, equality, equity, justice, a living wage and better conditions of work, an end to human rights violations and police excesses, marginalisation, discrimination, rising cost of living and diminishing wages.
Where are the voices crying out for public servants who keep the wheels of government turning for an uncaring and corrupt regime that treats them worse than stray animals? Those who are preoccupied over a handshake have forgotten the bauxite workers employed at the Bauxite Company Guyana Inc (BCGI) who have been denied justice since the Bharrat Jagdeo regime.
Where are the voices clamouring for environmental protection and sustainable development in the era of oil exploitation? Where are the voices of these ‘good citizens’ calling for addressing the education system post COVID-19 and the imbalances that have been created for our little children as a result of the pandemic, the disparity in the cash grants?
The working class is being denied social, economic and political justice as the margin between the rich and poor grows wider. Only he who feels it knows and can best articulate, and it is time to start listening and stop dictating for others their reality.