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An end to tribal politics must be more than phraseology, must be ideology and spirituality

by GHK Lall

The calls are for an end to tribal politics.  This has been the mantra of an intrepid few on the sidelines for the longest time here in Guyana.  It is neither sound bite nor phraseology; it is ideology.  Most important, it is part of a deeper, wider spirituality: of being brother’s keeper; of loving neighbor; and of a sweeping individual ethos.

After 50 years and counting of outward and internal strife, and sharp, unsparing memories is an end to tribal politics possible?  Or is it the soothing convenience of another quickly forgotten moment?  I say it is possible, but only if citizens compel themselves to the psychic and emotional reengineering that bespeaks responsibility, respectability, maturity, and sensitivity of self; and then demand from candidates the same and much more.

There must be the ready responsibility to examine the record objectively and decide.  There must be the (self) respectability to demand, then associate with what is better and different through deciding.  There must be the maturity to go beyond the usual, the tried and failed, and the prejudiced histories through issues-based decision making.  And there must be the sensitivity to appreciate what such individual commitment to thoughtfulness can contribute to national truth, and the national destiny.

In aggregate, this represents a near insurmountable order, a piercing psychological and emotional regime of self-examination and personal accountability.  Anything less is certain to fail family, community and country.  The native intelligence and political awareness are present.  What is needed is the will to dare to approach and then ford the acrid treacherous racial Rubicon.  It is a Rubicon infested with suspicion, distrust, and animus all made chronically dark and bitter by the fog of years lost and wasted.  But cross the racial Rubicon we must, if only for survival, and the tenuous promise of what lies on the other side.

As for candidates and parties and leaders here, too, there is the crying need for thorough mental overhaul.  There is no entitlement; there should be no sense of any such thing.  Governing and the weighty austere responsibility that comes with it, calls for the highest order of patriotism, selflessness, and care for the peoples.  There must be the leadership responsibility and sensitivity to cease cultivating fears, resentments, and hatreds to gain the upper hand, or any racial hand.  If these are not present in the breast in undeniable abundance, do something else.  Practice law, be a businessperson, take up philosophy; do anything else, other than seek to be part of ruling this society.  But to those who truly love this country and all its peoples, and are ready to serve and to embrace servant-hood in all its aspects, I say step forward.

Only through such thinking, visions, and corroborating actions on the part of citizens and leaders can there be an end to this damning tribal ugliness that haunts and hobbles, if not cripples.  We want to be better.  We can be better.  Do we have what it takes to get there?  To get beyond the specter and reality of tribal politics?

I say we do.