A far better alternative Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
January 3, 2002

WE'VE seen over the past year the triumphs and heartaches of the nation, the drama of unfolding events in the region and the world at large, and we've been saluting our conquering heroes and keeping faith with the West Indies cricket team as it goes through this very painful period.

The past year will be remembered more for its terror than for the rays of hope that it brought.

The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the resulting massive loss of lives, including many Guyanese, are still fresh in our memories. These attacks brought home to us the true challenge of the present age - how to make the 21st century an era of prosperity and peace.

At home, the violence that followed the March 2001 elections reopened old lesions and wounded the soul of our nation.

On the international level the American and NATO alliance retaliation against Afghanistan has effectively neutralised the Taliban regime and the systematic unraveling of the Al-Qaeda network is bound to continue for some time to come; terrorism has awakened a giant who will sleep no more.

The Middle East continues to be an area of torment with the continuing violence wreaking havoc on the prospects for just and lasting peace. Tensions have also flared up between traditional rivals Pakistan and India, and unless good sense prevails, there can very well be an escalation of the brewing crisis between these nations.

It is against this stark background that Guyanese begin the New Year, hoping for the best for their country.

But hopes are only as worthy as people make them out to be.

Therefore each and every Guyanese must commit to the values of peace and stability. While the ordinary citizen may not hold the reins of power, it is the responsibility of every citizen of this country to let the leaders know how much they desire an end to internecine conflict; how much they long for true and lasting unity and with it a better future for our children and their children.

The dreams of the ordinary man are very simple but are caught up in a web of complex processes. For these dreams of the citizens to be realised, it is necessary for the political leaders to demonstrate maturity and foresight, vision and wisdom, love and humility.

The dialogue between the two main political leaders has won public acclaim, even though there have been some problems. It is the single most important political event in our recent history that inspires hope of bridging the gaping fissures between the two main races in the country. Our people are happy when they see our leaders talking.

As we are reminded, it is better to talk than to fight. Even if we have to spend months merely talking about talk, this is a far better alternative than a confrontation path.

Dialogue is indeed the true way to peace, and in our context, peace and stability are necessary ingredients for development.

The renewed desire of both President Bharrat Jagdeo and Mr. Desmond Hoyte to make the dialogue work must therefore be saluted as a positive sign to usher in a New Year. We welcome this cooperation and hope that the continuing dialogue will be fruitful since more than anything else we have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to a world presently fraught with strife that a small developing country like Guyana has leaders who are prepared to put the country first.

As recent events in Trinidad have shown, it does not take much to jettison agreements made in the best of faith. It is therefore commendable that so far and despite the problems, the dialogue between Mr. Hoyte and President Jagdeo continues.

There will be differences and there will be highly contentious issues, but as matured leaders we are sure that both men will seize the opportunity to demonstrate that political cooperation in plural societies can be fruitful and productive without resort to radical power-sharing concepts.