Revive the community spirit Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
March 9, 2002

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THERE is a dire need for the revival of the community spirit in our society.

In recent years there has been an unfortunate shift away from this laudable societal trait, with a growing trend towards individualism and selfishness, resulting in simple problems escalating into burdensome difficulties.

There is a tendency for people to depend too much on the Government. Sometimes very trivial matters which can be handled through the collective efforts of citizens are left untouched, with the unfortunate common remark "duh is govment wuk."

Experience has shown that there is greater stability in those societies where the community spirit has been nurtured and become embodied in the life and culture of its people.

Community work played a significant role in the rebuilding of many of the developed countries of today that were devastated as a result of World War 11. Many roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure were rebuilt through the voluntary collective efforts of its citizens - whose only goal was to rebuild the social institutions of their societies for the benefit of their children and to lay the foundation for the future social and economic development of their homeland. They never looked for individual gains and were concerned about the benefits of the community.

Most of the governments then were cash-strapped by the exhaustion of the war.

One case in point is the now defunct Soviet Union which was devastated more than any of the countries that were involved in World War 11. They lost 20 million lives, thousands of villages were razed to the ground, thousands of factories destroyed and numerous schools, hospitals, schools and other social institutions.

Despite what others may think about their ideology and lack of democratic principles, it has to be conceded that the community spirit was very evident in their rebuilding process. And in less than three decades they rose to become a superpower with the second most powerful economy, leading the world in many fields of science, medicine and sports.

And even in the developed countries where finance is not a problem the community spirit is encouraged resulting in many educational, environmental, medical groups carrying out voluntary service to their communities.

In Guyana we are beneficiaries of work being carried out by people who have left their homelands to perform community service in our country.

Shouldn't this cause us to rethink and embark on the road towards community spirit?

But all is not lost because we have had several instances that show that the community zeal is still with us.

Apart from the material benefits of the community effort, there are immense social benefits like helping to develop understanding, tolerance and sense of togetherness, reducing tension and enriching one spiritually. It does wonders for the human psyche.

Perhaps Guyanese need to reflect on the famous words of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy:

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."