Guyanese must close ranks in the face of lawlessness Viewpoint
By Bishop Randolph George
Guyana Chronicle
September 16, 2002

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OVER the past few months we all have been surfeited with a multiplicity of views and ideas by way of letters to the press and statements offering solutions to the present problems facing our country. No one can deny that we have managed to get ourselves into a situation, which if allowed to continue much longer, can only bring more disaster and destruction.

Many of the solutions proposed are more or less long term and it is to be hoped that they will be seriously considered when the present turbulence abates and we are allowed once more to contemplate the big and pressing issues which demand our serious attention. Meanwhile, we must face up to the truth about ourselves as Guyanese. America has been remembering an event that that country experienced a year ago. It was an event that resulted in wanton loss of human life under the most painful and agonising circumstances imaginable. The lesson for us here is that the threat, which that event posed for the safety of life in the United States, prompted a closing of ranks among all Americans whatever their ethnicity or political persuasion. Differences melted as together they faced something that challenged all that they value as a nation.

The attitude of many towards the present situation in our country suggests that not many of us place much value on what we have inherited as a nation. For example, there is little to admire in the way we have helped to discredit our Police Force -- their own shortcomings and the neglect by those responsible for their welfare notwithstanding. In an irresponsible way we have indulged in the most injudicious attacks on a group whose function it is to protect us and guard against a descent into lawlessness.

Our rival political groups continue on their set course of bullying, berating and belittling one another. They all but declare, "If you go the way I point, everything will be fine. But if you disagree with me, watch out. Because we want to be boss - to be in control. If we are in control we are pleasant - but if we are not in control we can be disagreeable and hard to get along with."

We cannot begin to imagine what it would take to make us drop our wrangling at least for a while and concentrate on remedying a situation that can easily consume us all and leave us with nothing to wrangle over. Yet the ability to put aside differences and present a common front when disaster threatens is one of the marks of people who deserve to be taken seriously. It is a certain indication that in the long run we are destined to take our rightful place among the civilised nations of the world.

One of the marks of a civilised and mature people is the ability to accord to those who may differ from us the courtesy, which we owe to one another as civilised human beings. The norms, which are observed on certain occasions for example in a Court of law or at formal meetings, should be carried over into ordinary every day life. This is the only way to ensure respect for our institutions and for the representatives of these institutions. Much of the open lawlessness, which we have been witnessing, began with disrespect for our institutions and persons representing these institutions. And it is not for any individual to decide that the holder of any office is not deserving of due respect because that person has failed to uphold expected standards of conduct. That is a sure way to anarchy.

Let the debate go on. Let all voices be heard. But above all let all decent and right thinking Guyanese close ranks in the face of all the prevailing lawlessness in the country.