Jul 06, 2016
I was in the supermarket last Friday when this neatly dressed, middle age woman came up to me. She gave me some words of appreciation for my activism then asked me why I wrote so vehemently against celebrating the 50 years of Independence. She wanted to know why I was so cynical about Guyana’s 50th birthday.
My response was that my explanation would be a long one and in another place, another time, I would be delighted to offer my academic analysis on rejecting the allocation of extensive time, expansive energy, and scarce dollars on the 50th year anniversary.
She asked me to ramble on just for a few minutes. I was brief, but I did offer a few explanatory notes. The first thing I said to her was that one of the most dangerous flaws in life is when an individual, organization, government or country, is shown success by others but what they are really seeing is failure.
What you are being shown is a deception. You become like the king and his new clothes. What the king was seeing was his fancy attire. What he had on was just his bare skin. The poor chap couldn’t see it because he accepted what was told to him. He accepted deception. Success will never be striven for because you are told that you already have it when in fact you have nothing but failure.
It is a simple lesson that even a dunce can internalize. If your boss bowls nonsensical off-breaks at the company’s cricket competition and the employees keep telling him he is a good bowler, he will never improve his action. The academic explanation is that reality is never recognized. If reality is shunned then Freudian dangers take over.
I told this lady that the University of Guyana is in shambles today because over a ten-year period, when people wrote about UG falling down, the UG administrators and the lecturers who support them would respond, extolling the progress of the university. Each time you pointed to the disappearing standards and resources of UG, Mr. Al Creighton would pen a reply about the wonderful, rising progress of UG. Those things are in the newspaper; any school boy can Google them.
I then asked her to show me what we have achieved in 50 years since Independence came. This time the tiny smile grew larger. I directed her to the wide, richly stocked shelves of the supermarket and advised that on those shelves she would see the failure of 50 years of Guyana. I politely said goodbye and left. I wished I could have spent more time with her, because it was important for her to know that emotions are one thing, realty is another.
One well known diaspora personality who writes letters to the press often, reminded me that many of the shortcomings of Guyana that I lament about are present in the developed world. One hopes that the policy-makers of this country ignore such nonsense because if you don’t, the king’s new clothes come into play.
One of the most regrettable failures of 50 years of Independence that personally pains me is the absence of modern medical treatment. It should not have surprised anyone that Jimmy Carter got a slight touch of the cold and flew out of Guyana immediately. I was mentally wounded when I read that the traffic rank that was knocked down while doing duties, died after he was discharged from the Georgetown Public Hospital. My editor, Adam Harris, knew how I felt about that because I discussed the tragedy with a number of Kaieteur News staffers.
Obviously, he was not diagnosed properly because he would not have been released. He died two days after he was discharged. No one noticed or lamented this primitive regression of Guyana.
This man died while helping school kids to cross the road. He is a forgotten footnote. In the meantime, poor people continue to die at the Georgetown Hospital from ailments you no longer die from because medical science has improved phenomenally the past fifty years. Machines to aid in diagnosis are today saving lives. Medicine in the modern world is now machine-based. I know some crucial blood tests that no hospital in the 21st century can do without; the Georgetown Hospital does not have, and will not have in the near future.
I didn’t tell the lady at the supermarket that she used the wrong word, “cynicism” to describe my attitude to the celebration of 50 years of Independence. It was simple mental disgust of the deepest kind.