Thursday, April 13, 2017

Guyana: Apathy and Cynicism

A lot of our people in our country seem to have given up. An attitude of resignation exists. There is an inveterate lack of confidence in ourselves as a people and an uncritical acceptance of the status quo, of things as they are and that they would never be otherwise. This spirit of resignation and apathy can be seen in the state of our city streets, in the slowness of justice, in the drab looking dwellings, in the inefficiency of our public safety apparatus, in the run-down cemeteries, in the garbage in our trenches (never mind the frenetic post-election-win cleanup), in the indifference of those with whom the well-being of our State has been entrusted, in our lowering of standards, and much more. This impassivity, this lethargy, this languor is not our essence. It doesn't have to be this way with us. We have a history, a proud history - a history of struggle and of triumph. We come from ancestors who refused to accept the status quo, who fought for freedom and justice and who met seemingly insurmountable challenges. We come from our indigenous people who survived the brutality and subjugation of European colonizers. We come from the participants in the 1763 and 1823 slave rebellions, and we come from our people who were brought from India sacrificing, struggling, and emerging triumphant through the hardships of indentureship. 

Along with this apathetic attitude on the part of many, there also exists a certain cynicism by many (increasingly reflected on social media), a distrust (and rightly so) I n those entrusted with the care and well-being of the state  and a general pessimism about the prospects of things becoming better for our country and our people. Now this attitude can be rightly understood because, for years, we have seen things move in the direction towards degradation than towards progress. This cynicism usually comes from those of us who are slightly in a better position to eek out a living in the day to day, whether in Guyana or abroad. Now like the prevailing apathy, cynicism has no place among us. We have exemplars from among our people who have shown us that we can have hope in the face of hopelessness. The Enmore Martyrs acted upon that hope, refusing apathy and cynicism. Herbert Nathaniel Critchlow, Stephen Joseph Campbell, Dr. and Mrs. Cheddi Jagan, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, and others acted upon that hope, standing up for and demanding freedom and justice from our former colonial oppressors. Let us also reject apathy and cynicism. These are easy to adopt. Let us instead embrace hope, and let us act in manners of hope, speaking truth to power and holding them (both incumbent and opposition) accountable without fear, encouraging each other, helping each other, and becoming examples of the changes we desire. Tempted though we might be to lean in the direction of apathy and cynicism, let us not give up on ourselves; let us not give up on our Guyanese people, and let not give up on our dear land, Guyana. 

[collage by Ric Couchman]