Dec 03, 2017
One of my favourite non-fiction books of the 21st century is the philosophy text, “The Reckless Mind” by Mark Lilla. Lilla looks at the writings of some seriously strange philosophical thinkers including the Nazi sympathizer, Martin Heidegger (who for me, wrote the best book on philosophy ever – “Being and Time’).
At the end of your reading, you cannot help but conclude that the mind cannot be comprehended, and you are left wondering what drives the mind of rational people to support heinous wrongdoing.
I had a perilously close look at the reckless mind at a wake last Thursday night. The sister of my vet died suddenly at a very young age. I got to know the young lady from the vet, who takes very good care of my cat and dog. I sat next to the former CEO of the Georgetown Hospital, Mike Khan, and we were engaged in sustained analysis of today’s Guyana, when an enduring figure from the PPP’s leadership that I knew since 1974, came up to me.
She said, “I am leaving and I had to say hello to you before I go.”
This is someone quite special to the leadership of the PPP from the early seventies onwards. She was seen by Cheddi and Janet Jagan as their own child. Despite the descent into semi-fascism by the PPP leadership after Mrs. Jagan gave up the presidency, this lady and her husband never dissolved their friendship with me.
They were always objective and fair-minded when discussing the mistakes of the PPP with me. They stuck closely to what the PPP originally believed in.
At the wake, she opened up to me politically and began to say some unfortunate things as if she was a brand new person, one I didn’t know.
As she talked, Mike Khan said not a word. This was a pleasant person I have known for over forty years and she always avoided justifying the wrong things the PPP government did, but Thursday night was an exception.
After she left, I thought about Heidegger and why such a learned person sided with Nazi Germany. Was it the prevailing situation in Germany at the time? Did Heidegger see Germany as Jews versus Germans and feel he had to intervene on the side of the latter?
Has politics in Guyana become more tribalized, more ethnically driven, more zero-sum like, that the middle ground is dying and the rational mind has become the reckless mind? I have seen enough from people I thought were rational and who held the middle ground to convince me that Guyana is entering a dangerous and ugly period in its life. I devoted an entire column to what a friend wrote (November 21, “We may have produced the most troubled nationality in the world.”). This is someone who is a friend over a long period of time and a man I consider logical in his thinking.
He wrote a letter, carried in all the newspapers, asking me and Dr. David Hinds a question. After describing how the PPP has been fixing their own internal elections and national elections, he said that talk about the PNC rigging national elections was “stock propaganda.” Then he demands that David and I produce evidence that the PNC ever rigged elections. I couldn’t bring myself to dignify that macabre, unspeakable emanation with a reply. But I was totally shocked and completely fazed that someone I knew so closely could have written that.
This is what politics has done to the citizenry. And such types exist on both sides of the divide.
As this lady spoke in her usually, mild-mannered tone, I knew she had become a victim of the times. She told me, in the presence of Mike Khan, that Jagdeo is an exceptional leader, one of the great leaders of the PPP. He has no challenger in the PPP and is good for the PPP.
I know while Jagdeo was the President she would never have said that to me.
As she was about to walk away, she gave off a tiny smile when she said, ‘you know when I read you; the things you write make me believe that you and the PPP are the same from the olden days, it is just that you have strayed away.”
I said, “Really, the PPP tried to kill me twice.” The tiny smile was still there when she said, “nah maan.” I turned to Mike Khan and said; “could you believe what you just heard?”
I’m afraid the middle ground is gone, and the rational mind in Guyana has become the reckless mind. The future is bleak.