Last Updated on Sunday, 1 August 2021, 13:00 by Denis Chabrol
by GHK Lall
It was a long-awaited moment in endless time. An eternity of time that only knew an extended uninterrupted age of harshness and savageness, and of bitterness and anguish, that is of what only man can do to man. It is of how man can be to his fellow man. Even those who claim(ed) to be about God and the God-fearing, about Holy Scripture and all of its teachings, and about genuine worship and deep, true brotherhood. But the worst that Cain could have conjured came from the calculating minds, their coercive hearts. Slavery followed for the sweetness and richness of sugar, the hollow smoke and echo of tobacco. Faraway worlds were invaded and ruptured and destroyed, so that the evils of slavery could have happened. Physical worlds deep in the cancerous cells of the flesh were broadly cultivated also within bodies poisoned, minds twisted, speech warped, and hearts that went astray when they departed from God, and the things of God.
Because there was slavery, there had to be Emancipation. An hour of liberation from the Lord, as He energized real men of God to stand and object and say: No! it shouldn’t be this way. No! man must not be this way to his brother. And so came the last fall of the dreaded shackle, the first faltering of the hated whip. Those did not go without the longest and strongest of fights. The bloodiest, too, just had to be, so that some of the innocent blood shed, so much of the pain felt in centuries of cruel agonizing bondage could be repaid in the fullest circling of the clock.
We like to think of, and speak of, in the most insulting terms of the rat race, and in which man is compelled to compete like hungry, greedy, believed-ghastly rodents. I would contend that, because such an instinct can be prompted in the minds and hearts of men, and such an institution as human chattel and human slavery could come about, then we have it all wrong in this illustration about ‘a rat race.’ We think of matters, and we have them in the reverse, as in upside down. Because, when I ponder over slavery and its abominable evils, it is safer and wiser to conclude that the rats are forced, by dint of circumstances and environment, to coexist with the human race. It is the other way around.
The human race has so poisoned itself, tampered so much with the divine goodness of God’s creation and His ways, that we don’t live with the feared lowliness of rats, but that rats look infinitely richer, when compared to the handiwork of slavery, as dreamed up and lived for and with by man. In a similar way, I would make the case, having been energized by the perspective, that we, men and women of God (sometimes, or as claimed) do not behave like the inhabitants of a ‘crab barrel.’ We are the human barrel, and in which and from which the clambering crabs learn from us. In our slaveries of others. In the self-enslaving behaviors to which we subscribe, and of which we will have no other, brook no interference, absorb any remediation.
Twelve years shy of two centuries, since there has been the grace of physical emancipation from the unparalleled iniquity of slavery, we are still not fully free. This applies to all peoples in Guyana’s arena, whether at home or afar, be it in our places of worship or in our houses of commerce, and regardless of color, notwithstanding history or ancestry. We are still not completely emancipated. I would daresay that this could be easily and safely extended to the whole world that exists under God’s sun.
I say this because our minds are not fully emancipated. And because of that, our outlooks on life, our inbred visions themselves, are cramped and hobbled by chains of our own making. We Christians, we Catholics, we citizens of this Guyana, we enslave ourselves, and we delight in doing so. It is not to God. Sometimes, it is to the beauties that he made. Or, it could be the golden calves that transform into our calling, and to which we transfer all of our attention, all of our passions, all of our homage. We have lost sight of what and who God really is, because we have allowed our minds to obscure him by other loves. Politics. Race. The race for treasure. A treasured addiction. Self-love.
We have learnt and we say that we believe fervently that Jesus died so that we can be reborn and renewed. So we can be reconciled and restored to a state of grace before God. We fool ourselves (I do) if and when we think that we are fully free. We are not, unless we emancipate our minds. For then, we would not only cry to God: ‘Take these chains from my heart and set me free.’ But we would do everything in our human power to give him every assistance and encouragement along the journey to such fulsome freedom.
May Almighty God bless us all, me and you, to experience truly what it means to be wholly emancipated. Then, it would be the grandest of Emancipation Day, in one unending hour of the purest joy. Let it be.