Demand the truth in all situations

By Fr. Malcolm Rodrigues SJ
Guyana Chronicle
March 28, 2001

I BELIEVE it was Lenin who once said that a lie repeated a thousand times, can take on the semblance of truth. Over the last few weeks, we Guyanese have been treated to a series of rumours and downright lies, which, the more they were repeated the more they seemed true.

The calculated effect of this manner of behaviour was to give rise to various reactions across the spectrum of our people - from those who were ready to beat and rip up, those who were taking no chances and closed their business premises, those who removed their children from school as early as possible, as the details of the rumours/lies spread, to those who either ignored them altogether or took the trouble to check out the true value of these rumours.

The atmosphere in the city of Georgetown was tense as people share the rumours/lies and tried to organise their life as best as they could have done. There was no recourse to law which might have helped to stem the tide of rumours and lies, injurious as they were. In such a situation, a social paralysis set in whereby people retreat to the safety of their homes as early as possible and foregoed all activities which they considered might lead to difficulties associated with the rumours and lies. The prince of falsehood appeared to have won the day.

However, as Dr Martin Luther King Jr, reminded his people in his famous "I have a Dream" speech, it is truth and integrity which ultimately will set us all free, and we witnessed this in the stance taken by PNC/Reform member of GECOM, Mr. Haslyn Parris, who spoke up for what he saw was true when asked by the press about the results of the elections. Like all before him who choose this path, he suffered attacks by those who prefer rumours and lies to the truth. But the humiliation is not his, but theirs and this is sad, as the tendency is to blame the collective for the bad behaviour of the few. The prince of truth definitely won the day inspite of the rumours and lies.

The choice between truth or falsehood is not a political one but a moral one, and this applies both to the individual as well as the community. We must demand that our leaders be persons who will struggle to choose the truth in all situations, and we must also demand that our political organisations be grounded also in truth and integrity. If this continues to be absent from our leaders and organisations then, we run the risk of enslaving ourselves in falsehood, and perpetuating a false world of suspicions and mistrust. We then will always be in need of others to come and help us with our elections and to observe that these are guided by truth and integrity.