I DICTATED this letter before that day of infamy – the attack on America by extremists, 9/11/2001.
In it are lessons from which, for some inexplicable reasons, leaders of every period and in every continent seem either unable or unwilling to learn; these lessons are quite simple. If we pause for a moment and understand history, we will appreciate the importance of learning from past events.
Briefly in 1914, the Heir to Astrian-Hungary throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were shot and killed by a teenage Bosnian student in Serbia. Because of existing tension and distrust among the civilised nation-states of Europe, within weeks, war broke out on two European frontiers.
Millions of lives were sacrificed and properties, including treasured works of art, were damaged The reason? Distrust and unwillingness to sit around the proverbial fireside and talk things through.
Have we civilised people learnt anything?
Four years later, the war ended in Europe with statements and pious promises for universal peace. Twenty-one years later, this same month, September, the European Nations were again at war. It lasted longer in the first world war and ended around this time in 1945. Why? Simple lessons were not learnt — to sit and talk things through.
Rather, we seem anxious to put unhelpful ingredients in the soup-pot, as we stir the soup of suffering, silliness and stupidity.
When will we learn to sit and talk things out?
I make these references, which cost millions of military and civilian casualties to refer to our own situation in Guyana. If our leaders — political, religious and community — cannot develop the culture to sit and talk things through, we will certainly be on that prophetic path of self-destruction.
To argue about a man-made constitution and who or who is not in breach of it, is a frustrating, time-wasting exercise. The laws handed down to us as contained in the Holy Scriptures, (in alphabetical order), whether it be Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or Judaism and the other principles offer good moral guidance how to live our lives and to treat with those we associate and live with.
A difficulty we face is when senior functionaries do not believe in any of the holy texts.
This obsession of daily carrying on a propaganda campaign will not help us.
I wonder if our leaders realise this?
If we present to the outside world, investors, businesspeople and potential immigrants, a solid united front or I prefer a National Front, they will know that there is little they can get away with. In this way, we can easily secure a prosperous “green” economy, so that every family, every community can enjoy the basic comforts of life, free education, high level of health services and advance in music, sports and culture, generally.
Last Sunday evening I attended the Annual Music Teachers in Concert and was impressed by performances of our young people, and in particular, bands from Berbice and Demerara, where the government was able to train young persons to play musical instruments; an opportunity, that this moment, ordinary boys and girls could not have had.
And speaking with a representative of the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Mr. Tyndall, in the presence of Mr. David Dewar, I expressed some concern that such forward steps are not in the public domain. I did not see a battery of media personnel to cover this event. But I suppose, if there is a murder or the fulminations of some political figure or the statements of some modern-day iconoclast, there would have been media coverage.
With the horrors I referred to earlier, I can only plead with our leaders. If they are really interested in Guyana and the succeeding generations to put an end to this blame ‘the other man’ culture, so that the blood, sweat and humiliation of our slave ancestors would not have been shed in vain; so that the indignities and sacrifices made by the Indentured Labourers would be fully vindicated. The words of “Billy” Pilgrim, as I end on this note of optimism, “Can we do it? Yes, we can”!