by GHK Lall
Five years to 2025, according to the Hon. Minister of Finance. That is how long before the oil money would start coming in, the real meaningful money. The money that, if honestly and wisely (prudent is the word) used, could make a world of difference for Guyanese. Every single citizen. I can only agree with anyone, who harbors such a vision, and who then removes all obstacles that may prevent that from being reality. Remember: every citizen. Some cautions first.
From now to 2025 is an eternity of ages, forever for those waiting. From how I view Guyana so much could happen, most of them not so constructive, that is if… It is the biggest of “ifs.” But, if we are blessed still some more, the hope is that there could be some efforts towards that good. Of every citizen.
The first ‘if’ is this one: if we can craft a way that leaves a satisfied sense of all being in the picture, a part of the journey towards prosperity, contributing to the mix of visions and decisions, and appreciating the soaring as well as the areas that bring falling. I know it is a repeating of the numerously repeated (counting only self); still, it is worth the voicing in the remote probability that there will be some listening and actually hearing. The second ‘if’ would be after those, then there is some acting towards the progressive through the inclusive.
Because if we as nation and country continue along the warpaths lived, then the oil serves as the most inflammatory spark that there could possibly be. Five years before the harvests of oil produce could be fully savored can turn out to be too torturous. Too torturing from the decimating sulfurs of waiting, squabbling, mud-wrestling, ball-busting, and generalized capsizing of each other. Five years is a lifetime for many more mistakes to be made. I dare to think that we have it inside to reach for the stars. That is another if which is not comforting. That is, if we can see beyond the oil, get past that same oil.
Since we have been un-helping and disabling in overcoming other issues of lesser import, then how and where (and who) is capable of searching for and summoning the interest, then the energy, and last the will to go beyond the limitations and self-destructiveness of the past? The past is now. The past is the future. If all we can do is exhume, dress up, and parade the deathly, then what lies ahead? What could lie ahead, if not more of the same?
No manifesto from anyone—no leader, no political group, no racial segment, no seemingly bipartisan society—is enough to take to another place. No matter how well-written, well-meaning, and well-envisioned, no manifesto is enough, other than as the starting point of a blueprint. But blueprints have no life of their own. They are lifeless collections of paper: passive, supposed to signify something of substance. Leaders and idealistic groups give manifestos life through genuine conviction and expansive implementation. If that can be done, then it would be a departure from all the other useless volumes that prior manifestos did represent. Men and women of rare strength, grand visions, and immaculate character must be found, if only to give a chance (chance only) to make the manifestos leap from documentation to realization. If only…
I must thank the Hon. Minister of Finance for the harsh, but honest, gut check of that reality: 5 years to the stairs that may take us above ground. So much can happen in five years: mostly the negative, hopefully the inspiring. For I think that 5 years encircle opportunity to learn, to grow, to mature. If only we desire to do so as one house, a single body. On the other hand, five years can mean another elections cycle (or two) right on the crossroads and cusp of the real money. That is an alarming thought, since elections bring out the worst in us, the absolute worst conceivable. And what has that solved at any time in local history, other than to reinforce how damaged this country remains?
I stay with hard reality; several of them, in fact. For five years to 2025 could mean more breakthroughs to still infantile fuel cell technology. I refrain from contemplating what five years empower in the further infantilizing of the peoples of this nation. I believe that David Granger represents a departure; I harbor doubts over his staying power. From my perspective, that leaves this nation in a bad place, as I am searching, not for where is a successor patriot, but if there is one to be found. And if found, if he or she could hold the Humpty Dumpty that is Guyana together. And, then if there can be moving upward to some place else.
With this in mind, five years suddenly appears tight, as in tomorrow. Too narrow a space, too limited in time, too crowded with paltry positives and enduring monstrous negatives. Among the negatives, allowance, as a matter of national continuity, must be made for Venezuela, changing demographics, and the crushing statistics of foreigners coming. They will. Since our intellectual capital and character capital have depleted to the point of ramshackle existence, what is our fate?
Come to think of it, five years enable some understanding and grasping of what is required to capitalize and maximize oil returns. A necessary cooling off period, a time to retreat and reflect, the opportunity to gather a referendum of opinion on how to proceed. Not a continuation of the age-old passions, the ancient outlooks, but a referendum of coherence on what is required of all. There is nothing cerebral about any of this. Time to move towards the wisdom and profoundness that sparks and stirs; that we are our own most terrible contagions; that there must be chosen a different pathway.
I would be delighted if the difference making oil money came next year; the other part of me says that we are not ready to deal with it constructively. The reason is before we can do so, we must learn how to deal with ourselves. Our expectations. Our intentions. Our inhibitions. Five years may be a blessing in disguise. I think we need it, if merely to realize that our ways are dilutive, the destinations promised disastrous, our visions that grim. Five years can afford momentum to recalibrate and rehabilitate towards some universal acceptance of where we must be and how we can manage to get there. In one piece, if still one people. That is the last if, maybe the biggest.
Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.