Listening to the people
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GUYANESE are known to be an opinionated people; it is difficult to find one without a point of view on any given topical issue, domestic or foreign. Some publicly express their views, while others do so in the confines of their homes, or in the confidence of trusted loved ones.

With mainstream media affording one to publicly express their views via talk shows, call-in programmes, letters to the sditor, newspaper blogs, opinion columns, etc., Guyanese are utilising the opportunity to be heard and have an input in matters of import to them. Where social media, in its liberating and uninhibited format, facilitates similar expressions, this forum, too, impacts recipients, near and far.

It is hoped that as Guyanese continue utilising their freedom in this regard, the issues they speak passionately about are not only capturing the attention of their peers, but also the various pillars of leadership in society. Those paying attention, more particularly those in government at every tier and branch, including the Opposition, would note that expressions are growing in intensity on matters considered important to the people.

If per chance it may have escaped the notice of the influential, the last two General and Regional Elections saw the populace, resident and in the diaspora, converting their social media pages to campaign sites for their candidate(s) or party(ies) of choice. The new form of activism is, signally, a shift by the masses from dis-interest or apathy to interest in politics and things considered political. The vocal among us are not to be underestimated or taken for granted, given that their points-of-view, supported or not, undeniably carry an intensity and conviction akin to platform politics.

It is not unusual to find among this group, persons taking strong views against their elected officials on any given matter, where it is felt that that matter was handled badly, of poor taste or timing, or without due regard for the people. Whereas this may flummox government, party or individual aware of the person’s support, in the evolving landscape, this should come as no surprise.

Having access to other societies, Guyanese are observing persons, though supporting a group, party or individual, being unafraid to publicly question or disagree with a particular point of view. And though this is not an unusual occurrence of human nature, in our society where such is seen as heresy, the recognition that it can indeed happen is liberating and empowering. Where such feelings encamp, once taken hold of, they cannot easily be undone.

Outside of the few known members of civil society who are unafraid to speak their minds, the international exposure being gained is adding fillip to the outspoken and the masses’ consciousness. Prudence requires acknowledgement of this reality. In addition to this, at the grass roots level, the masses are cultivating a Code of Ethics, wherein things they condemn in others they are less likely to support, even if coming from their camp, lest they be exposed and condemned by their peers.

This evolving trend points to three factors:-i) Demanding accountability of leadership, ii) demanding accountability of one’s peers, and iii) delivering accountability of self. Were the leadership of society, political, civil and otherwise, to pay heed to this, time would be expended on understanding this phenomenon and responding to it accordingly.

And this does not mean shutting expression down or ignoring it, given that smart management requires acknowledgment of changing trends, putting systems in place to be a partner, not suppressor of it. Invariably, too, the pool of expression, taken in good vein, offers insight on and feedback of the masses’ view to given issues.

The people are a critical and important constituent in the nation’s welfare. To retain their respect and support requires being discerning of their expressed views and, where necessary, acting accordingly. It should be said, too, that not everything an opponent, perceived or real, says is wrong; likewise, not everything a supporter, perceived or real, says is right. Identifying this requires shrewd thinking, a marshalling of the facts, understanding the issues, the stern belief in right and wrong, and the impact decision will have on the people. More importantly, the people must never ever feel they are not being listened to, and are being excluded from input in matters affecting their well-being.

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