What Next?
-- asks Donald Sinclair Viewpoint
Guyana Chronicle
September 4, 2002

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THE big question on the lips of the public at large is "What next?" Where do we go from here?

Newspapers, radio and television serve us daily and nightly doses of worsening inhumanities and shocking acts of lawlessness.

Conversation on the street, in homes, offices and everywhere else inevitably comes around to the levels of crime in our society, and the fact that no end seems to be in sight nor is a solution apparent. Editorials, columnists and letter-writers propose solutions.

Over the past few days, we have read about a Stabroek News proposal, a WPA proposal, a PNC/R proposal. All three of those sharing considerable common ground, as indeed they should, rooted as they are in a common recognition of a catastrophe slowly overtaking us.

Privately, some individuals whisper proposals that are far harsher and more unconventional as the only solutions they see to the current crisis. Those suggestions can never reach beyond the status of whispers or be taken outside the confines of huddled conversation. But by their very nature they reflect the deep-down patriotism of their authors and their total outrage at events that consume us.

Meanwhile, the fear sticks deep in the hearts of Guyanese and terrible psychological consequences play themselves out in young and old alike.

In an earlier Viewpoint given some months ago, before crime escalated to current levels, certainly before young lads started to torch their helpless victims, I drew attention to the image of the bunker in our society and to patterns of physical and mental bunkerisation.

Now, within those bunkers there are chronic sleeplessness, frequent and most disturbing nightmares and unusual bed-wetting by young children. In addition, minds that should be freed for thoughts that are creative and forward-looking are plagued and obsessed with the modalities of security or consumed by fantasies of revenge.

Yes, the fear sticks deep and the traumas are real. Against this lurid background we try, as best as we could, to laugh, to love, to care for the weak and the aged, and to hold on to the best and noblest in us. We try, in the words of Shakespeare, "to sleep in spite of thunder".

But the authorities must know that this pervasive fear is no basis for development or for anything constructive. Methods employed so far to stem the crime wave have not succeeded, and the populace has grown increasingly cynical about official reassurances.

These thoughts may have been expressed before.

But, is anyone listening?

Will the right person take heed?