How could people so belittle themselves?
Guyana Chronicle
February 13, 2002

THE BBC's online profile of Guyana says that there is total freedom of the press in this country but that contributors to the media habitually censor themselves.

I found this statement objectionable at first, but then on checking the local newspapers I found an ever-growing number of opinion columns and letters all of which were written by anonymous persons.

I maintain that most anonyms write "a bundle of stupidness" which is the main reason they do not want anyone to know who they are. Many are, rightfully ashamed of their limited viewpoints.

Take for instance the anonymous writer of the letter "More time for local issues" in the Chronicle of Monday February 11. This person believes that our place in the wider world is that of a "bystander/spectator" and therefore we should confine our attention to local and regional matters.

How could people so belittle themselves?

I agree that we might not be able to directly influence the outcome of international conflicts and other issues but that is not the main reason we pay attention to these matters.

We educate ourselves about global affairs simply because we need to determine how those events can affect our livelihood, our survival, and in Guyana we need to know how changing world policies will affect international aid and so forth.

"War" causes fluctuations in global financial markets and a country like ours, much in need of "foreign exchange", must pay attention to wars and threats of war.

We need to determine how the buyers of rice, sugar, bauxite and other local produce will be affected if their countries go to war. The war might be far away, but its impact will reach us directly.

Before "Anonymous" recommends that we scrap all foreign diplomatic missions, may I suggest that s/he look up the meaning of the word "globalisation"?

"Points of view in Guyanese newspapers are only for Guyanese attention," says Anonymous. Indeed, but the question is exactly what holds the attention of Guyanese?

Not all Guyanese are narrow minded and very many are capable of sophisticated thought including the study of the human condition.

Many Guyanese can easily grapple with local issues while assessing matters of global significance. No one is neglecting local matters in preference for international subjects.

Are we supposed to pay attention only to local matters and so not be aware of starving infants in other parts of the world? Are we to ignore international wars and in the process not know about land mines that are blowing small children to bits?

Is it OK to turn a blind eye to these atrocities of war simply because these children do not live in Guyana and the Caribbean?

Do you not consider such ignorance as being sinful and evil? And while you might not be able to help these children directly, does one more voice, a Guyanese voice, not help in drawing international attention to such suffering?

Anonymous admitted that foreign ambassadors read the newspapers.

It is courting economic disaster to suggest that Guyana (or any other small developing state) should pursue an isolationist agenda at this time.

It is now especially important that we monitor international events and particularly the responses to American foreign policies.

The U.S. proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas would come into effect in 2005 (or next year if the Americans have their way.) FTAA would include all nations in North and South America and the Caribbean, except Cuba.

The Americans and we are set to be partners in this hemispheric free trade zone which would represent the world's biggest common market.

As such it is important to understand and to observe how America is being perceived in the international arena.

The local newspapers are for "Guyanese attention" only, Anonymous stressed.

Is that why all the main papers carry Internet editions? Or could it be that editors know that the number of Guyanese living abroad now exceeds the number of those living at home?

And are you not aware of how much those at home depend on those who have gone "international"?

"Something is worrying me," Anonymous says. I don't doubt it!

Try exercising a bit more common sense, you'll broaden your mind and discover that the ability to think rationally will leave you less perturbed.