Moral weakness in society to blame for current crisis
-Bishop George

Stabroek News
May 11, 2001

Anglican Bishop in Guyana, Randolph George, has attributed the current political crisis in Guyana to moral weakness on the part of the Guyanese people.

He made these remarks in the charge which he delivered at the Synod Mass on Tuesday afternoon at the St George's Cathedral.

He said that the morally difficult thing to do was to condemn violent and destructive behaviour of people on "our side."

"Too frequently we are unwilling to risk being unpopular for condemning the behaviour of people from our own ethnic group."

As Christians, he said, "we have a particular responsibility to resist pressures to let race determine our judgement and behaviour." He urged Guyanese not to choose which minibus to use on the basis of the driver's ethnic origin or to seek out people of their own racial grouping to attend to them in shops and offices.

"Tragedies are not always caused by evil people, in a surprising number of cases they result from weakness in the people," he said.

"What may seem small examples of decency require courage, but they are the only way to deny the violent minority the permissive atmosphere they need to sow their poison.

"We are not too far removed from the jungle as we may think, our education and culture notwithstanding," the Bishop observed.

He said that in many cases it was "the failure to be careful of everyday behaviour which provides rabid troublemakers with fertile ground in which to sow their poison." One instance of this was the habit of ascribing characteristics to racial groupings. This he considered utterly fictitious and dangerous.

Christians, he said, had a duty to change all of this by refraining from making assumptions about people based on race in everyday matters. "A violent act is a crime committed by an individual person who must be judged on the basis of his or her responsibility for the particular act; which racial group the person belongs to is irrelevant.

"Our own personal behaviour as professed Christians is the individual responsibility of each of us and whenever we shirk this responsibility we betray Christ, and the devil wins another battle."

Bishop George, however, noted that personal good behaviour alone would not solve the problem in Guyana. He added that it would have to go hand in hand with institutional and legal reforms.

His conclusion was that Guyanese must come to terms with their own painful past and should undertake as a major priority to have sustained dialogue with honesty and sincerity. "Only in that way can we achieve a society in which people of any race, colour or creed can live and work and lead a secure and enjoyable life in this beautiful land God has given to all of us."

Earlier in his speech, the Bishop announced the unveiling of a new plaque in the cathedral in memory of the late Jaiwanti Josephine Falconer who had served as assistant and administrative secretary in the diocesan office for almost 30 years.

The Synod Mass was part of the activities of the 129th Annual Session of the Synod which began on Tuesday at the Mothers' Day Union Day Care Centre Building. Yesterday was the last day for the session.

The Synod is the highest decision-making body in the Anglican diocese and is held once every year. Delegates comprise all the clergy in the diocese and representatives of the laity drawn from parishes.