A new vision

Stabroek News
April 29, 1998

In a letter in yesterday's newspaper Mr Eusi Kwayana, veteran politician and sage of Buxton, made several important statements. The letter started by discussing the average income of the two main races, raised in previous correspondence. Having dealt with that, Mr Kwayana went on to make the important statement that "we cannot continually argue who suffered more". He went on to say that "as a private person I have a strong interest in supporting African development, but not knowingly at the expense of others, even in argument". And again: "Those who welcome my letters should understand that I do not write to win arguments, and take no pleasure in seeming to win them. Arguments really never close. There is always unrevealed truth lurking in the slips or somewhere out of sight".

It was like a breath of fresh air, a broader vision of compassion, understanding and compromise which is so lacking in some of the verbal gladiators in our letter columns. Their offerings are often limited to a remorseless recording of former offences, real or imagined, like a charge sheet, uninhibited by any redemptive or broader understanding.

Yes, we believe Mr Kwayana to be saying, we have all suffered, some more than others. But there is litle to be gained by continually harping on this. Yes, there has been severe discrimination in the past, on both sides, but the answer now surely is to seek to devise ways of dealing with this through fair employment legislation, a race relations commission which can hear complaints of discrimination, a revised and transparent tender board procedure and so on.

Our country needs a new transforming vision of a future of hope. Partly because of the lack of development and achievement over several decades there is a turning inwards and a breeding of attitudes of futility and resentment. All we can do is fight and bicker. There is no generosity of spirit, as Mr Kwayana has rightly complained. The politicians are caught in this trap.

This is a time for civic groups to make themselves heard. There is legitimate concern at every level and in every area, from the private sector to the unions and the churches, about the problems facing the country. These bodies must take counsel among themselves and then alone, or in unison, make their views known to the politicians, firmly and forthrightly. That is the essence of democracy. Politicians are not meant to be completely free agents who can act, or fail to act, as the whim takes them. They must be brought face to face with the concerns and worries of workers, businessmen and ordinary citizens. They must be called upon to have dialogue and to come up with ideas. And these groups must give them the benefit of their own thinking and their own ideas.

Civic groups have a very important role in this time of uncertainty and unresolved problems. They must make themselves heard.