by GHK Lall
I usually like to think that I am ahead of the curve, but I must confess that politically-related matters in this country move with the acceleration of a Formula 1 contest. Before a nice relaxing breath can be drawn, there is this frenetic rush of events that crowd calendar, space, time, and mind.
First, it is a testimony to the priority and fevered urgency of this furious concentration of governmental cum political cum judicial cum legislative issues that other developments of a very troubling nature are sidelined to the point of near oblivion. Of course, this intense unwavering focus on the political universe embodies and entraps the social and racial. It is just that kind of environment and supercharged atmosphere characterized by premature and mindless victory celebrations at any perceived gain or advantage by one side or the other, however temporary such may be.
As one telling example of a situation that should bother all Guyanese of the thinking and upright variety, there was the deplorable and dangerous occurrence involving the Principal of the School of the Nations. There are the news updates (all discouraging, other than Dr. O’Toole’s health stability and improvement), and very little else in terms of multiple and concerted public expressions of disgust and outrage at how far things have deteriorated in this society. That is, even the dedicated, once-revered, and long-ago untouchable are now fair game for assaults and the scurrilous, which have all become so ordinary. The education realm took a new hard blow: Queen’s College had its destruction a while back; and daily, gangs and some level of terror influences (and not for the better) the ambiance and learning environment in primarily the public learning system. Yet there is but shrug and it is off to the courts and who won and who lost.
This says so much: as in when an instance, such as Dr. O’Toole’s is swallowed up and overwhelmed, if not quickly snuffed out of existence, by the raging swirl of political events that occupy the center stage of attention, contemplation, and conversation. It is the same story for public opinion, too. Other than Mr. Ruel Johnson, and one other (I think) there has been silence. I am engaging in a bit of self-flagellation, at not articulating my take and denunciation earlier, since education is so close to my being. It does not mater that I have no acquaintance with Dr. O’Toole or his institution, but it is, indeed a sad time, when something of this seriousness, which should alarm just about every Guyanese parent and citizen has been given such short thrift. The implications of what happened are endless; regardless of who were or were not involved, and wherever the evidentiary trail leads.
Instead, there is this absolute, unholy, and overpowering obsession with the words, postures, reports, trails, and roads that now characterize and imbue the national discourse. It can be reduced to one single word: politics. That impressive West Indies Test cricket victory drew some momentary interest, then a stifled yawn; Venezuelan developments, which embed a world of trouble and should provoke much local thinking and vigilance, gets the time of day, and then little else; and oil-long a front burner, high-flame, burning cauldron – has been relegated to second string interest for the time being. I predict that, outside of possible Venezuelan provocations, the citizenry is going to remain fixated on court, governance, parliament, speeches, and positions. Those are the Guyanese equivalents of bat blood, goat guts, and white fowls: the portents of the highly probable, the actuality of the possible. Local politics is now an uninterrupted blood sport.
In view of my own steady public contributions, some may have difficulty separating me from the mass of madness. For whatever it is worth, I hasten to reassure the critical and cynical that there are competing (and higher) priorities in my life, including church, family, sport, Wall Street volatility and the universe that goes with that, and a good laff or horserace. Come to think of it, maybe I am not so different myself: I want to write two (now three) books, but allow myself to be diverted by the circular flow of stupidity that attracts and interferes.
Still, my position is that what is happening in Guyana possesses all the ingredients of dark and sick comedy, as well as the excitement, intrigues, and conspiracies and fixes that can be part and parcel of the ponies in play and a day at the tracks, shady ones. For too long and for too great a majority of the Guyanese people, politics has been sickness, wickedness, and an unmatched degree of madness. It is more than citizens’ alpha and omega, or raison d’être.
Political and racial obsessions have become a matter of life and death. I say to hell with that.