Making the best of what can be
May 3, 2004
IN REFERRING to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. in the final sermon of a seven-week crusade here a few months later, the main speaker at that church crusade said things weren't going to get better in New York or anywhere else.
Most people attributed the attacks to the freedom and democracy that characterise America. But according to the pastor, the Pentagon/World Trade Center disaster was a prophetic sign that the world was in the throes of end-time chaos.
A little more than two decades earlier, noted American economist Robert L. Heilbroner, had taken a pessimistic view of mankind's chances of civilized survival. In An Inquiry Into The Human Prospect, Professor Heilbroner called attention to the dangers of unlimited growth for the world's physical environment and the social order and pondered whether democratic societies had to become authoritarian in order to impose an unpopular system of minimal economic growth!
At home, some people of religion say prayer is the key to changing things in Guyana's favour; others say prayer is a source of comfort, not a means of changing life's events.
Depending on one's ideology or core belief system, one is free to agree with or dissent from these views. For sure, one difference between static and dynamic societies is the way in which people's ideologies - the link between action and fundamental belief - relate to religious or supernatural matters. But because the vehicle for the passage of ideology in any society is a people, we believe that the Guyanese man and woman can determine where this country goes from here. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt put it this way: "Fear God and do your own part."
We submit that if Guyana is going to make it to the upper crust of development, we have got to come together as a people of zero-tolerance for election disturbances, armed robberies, shocking assassinations, snail-pace action and, not least, the utility woes that are contributing to production downsizing.
As a nation whose survival depends on domestic output and international cooperation and assistance, attitudinal changes have got to take root. It means that trade union hostility has got to give way to collaborative efforts with employers to make employees want to give themselves fully to their tasks. Public servants who, because of union agitation, see government as foe, and politicians whose narrow sectarian interests won't allow them to devote their energies to serve the public interest, have got to see service to humanity and national growth above self-interest.
The government must consider investing more in electricity generation equipment to bring a halt to 27 years of blackouts, and at the same time support hydroelectric power station builders to accelerate their investments in ensuring that we have enough energy to put Guyana onto the path of industrialization.
The judiciary must move faster to bare court dockets of the backlog of cases that are resulting in the denial of justice to innocent-until-proven-guilty offenders. In every other facet of life in Guyana, those placed in positions of responsibility and trust in and out of government must set and work assiduously to accomplish results-oriented goals.
And the contending parties in Parliament, particularly the ruling PPP/C and the main opposition PNC/R, need to resume their dialogue, not on the basis of the threat or use of violence, but out of a conviction that service to the people of Guyana must take precedence over the notion of partisan advantages.
We remain optimistic that, working together with a common purpose - as we should, innovative strategies can be put into effect to tap our richly-endowed natural resources, attract more direct foreign investments, increase the country's international competitiveness, and move Guyana past developing middle-income country status.