Monday, September 15, 2014

Le Repentir

Culture & Society ---

It is far easier to destroy than it is to build up, to find fault than to give praise.  And even in objective description disapprobation might be elicited.  For the past several months I agonized on how best to reflect on the current condition of the once sacred Le Repentir Cemetery in Georgetown, Guyana.  I wanted to present an unbiased description of its present state without coming across as if I were lambasting our beloved country or without bringing about a cacophony of blame directed at competing political parties.  Instead, I wanted to be able to induce in my fellow Guyanese (who might happen to read my modest reflection) a sort of aching of the heart that would move us all to incline our energies, not towards pinning culpability on individuals or groups, but towards prayer (which we are very good at) and more palpable interventions.  Sadly, the Le Repentir Cemetery is a reflection of the state of things in our Dear Land of Guyana.  And if we are to be a Blessed Nation, we must treat our dead (and also our homeless, our poor, our orphans, and our elderly) with dignity.  

I was visited with a dream recently - a dream which stirred in me hope for the future.  In this dream I saw the sacred Le Repentir Cemetery.  It was no longer that place which, to our shame, looked like it might be the habitation of jaguars, crocodiles, snakes, alligators, and other wild animals of the Amazon jungle, or a dumping ground for garbage or for getting rid of murdered victims.  It was no longer that place encircled by waters infested with filth.  It was no longer that place where, in order to find a place to inter the remains of a loved one, an individual would be constrained to clear huge tracts of shrub and wild and unyielding bush or to burn such similar vegetation and exposing scorched ground and surrounding blackened tombs as a result.  Instead, I saw in my dream that park-like vista of lovingly cared-for tombs and tombstones among carefully nurtured plants and groomed lawns, with row upon row of palm trees providing both shade and beauty - that place that it was before its degeneration to what it is now.   It was again that wonderfully serene, immaculately clean, and stunningly beautifully place in which we could lay our dead to rest or periodically visit them to pay our respect.  I awoke from that dream with a renewed sense of hope.

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