Being abused for our goodness
April 6, 2007
Increasingly, we seem to be creating obstacles to our very existence, particularly in the city, and visitors do not miss a single opportunity to highlight situations that we have grown to accept largely because they persist. Sometimes these things we could correct but for some strange reason, as if we are masochists, we allow them, to remain to torture us.
For example, there was a time when potholes were the order of the day to the extent that we had taken to justifying their existence. Some in our midst actually believed that these potholes served the purpose of lowering the incidence of road fatalities. And indeed they did, because cars and other vehicles could not traverse the roads at speed.
But the more sane among us could not help but notice the development of these potholes that were akin to craters. They spotted the emergence of these aberrations in the road surface and often reported them. However the authorities ignored the complaints and before long the road surfaces were all but impassable.
It was the same when the traffic lights began to fail us. We noticed first one, then the other going out of order and we said nothing. Before long, we had become perhaps the only nation in the world that had a capital with no traffic lights.
With the advent of Cricket World Cup to these shores came a mad scramble to make this country presentable to the visitors who were supposed to number in the tens of thousands. Lo and behold, we ourselves commented that it would be nice if Cricket World Cup could visit Guyana at least twice a year. There was no Guyanese who was not surprised at the level of improvement and at the state of cleanliness that prevailed.
We were sure that everything would be honky dory when the visitors came but there were those who came and found enough to criticize. They criticized the pools of water that gathered after a period of rainfall, they criticized our taxi service that serves us in our times of need, they criticized our hotels and our hospitality and they criticized our attempts to chide them for their arrogance.
For as long as anyone could remember we had called for a culture of fixing the wrongs in our society before they become chronic. We noticed the sagging electricity poles and we reported them but no one paid any notice; we ignored the errant driving on the part of our road users and those who insisted on proper behaviour were ostracized by the very society which tended to make the excuse that everyone has to live and that all could not be the same.
We allow our children to be truants because we fear the wrath of those parents who refuse to allow anyone but them to scold their children. And when these very children become adults and seem inclined to a life of crime we call for the police to solve problems that we should have solved years earlier.
But even so, we would not expect that people we invite would accept our hospitality and abuse us. One woman New Zealander who had never come here opted to write about how violent we are. As though preaching the gospel she spoke of a foreign cameraman coming face to face with a gun being brandished by the owner of a business premises simply because he dared to film the business place.
This has to be farthest from the truth because in our wildest dreams we would never threaten a white foreigner, not in this country.
Then there was the writer who wrote about the need to board taxis in a hurry, failing which, the taxi would drive off without its passenger. He wrote about the fare who got his foot run over because he was too slow to get into a taxi.
Surely, every country has its negative sides but for people to only focus on those must be harrowing. None of us would like to open our homes to people only to have them abuse us.
Our leaders invited us to do that for Cricket World Cup; they promised a lot and we listened. None of the promises materialized. That did not hurt as much as the abuses from those whom we welcomed. We changed our laws to accommodate them; we priced our tickets almost out of our reach at their recommendation; we opened our arms to them while the authorities did everything to ensure that they did not fall prey to the common criminals.
By the action of these visitors we are now beginning to see that marketing our country would be an uphill task.