Some labels are roadblocks to national unity
By Bishop Randolph George
August 7, 2003
‘It is our commitment to the vision expressed in our national motto that will dictate the kind of society that will eventually emerge after the present clouds have lifted and the hidden landscape is revealed in all its dazzling ‘splendour.
WHENEVER members of a section of our population observe an event, which is of significance to that particular group, it is always good to see others sharing in the observance. This is good for the country and those in a position to do so should encourage it. Whether it is Emancipation Day or Indian Arrival Day all Guyanese should participate as fully as we can.
Participation of everyone in the community will help enormously in binding us together as one people. Within recent times we were encouraged to think it was right not to be too involved in other people’s celebrations and I dare say that attitude dies hard. We hear a good deal from our political leaders about the desirability of our being a participatory community and this ought to be our common aim. Think how the spirits of all of us would be lifted to see all our political leaders going out of their way to give us a lead in this direction. I am certain that nothing, but good would result. Since the basis of participation is trust, there will always be the need to build trust and eschew suspicion.
Daily our country is unfairly depicted by some as a hostile place where some are deprived of fuller participation in the life of the community. For some there are too many trade secrets. The perception of our society as a hostile place will disappear when we all see it as our duty to help each other and not seek to dominate in any way.
Among our Caribbean neighbours we may have ceased to occupy the distinguished position on the cultural and educational scale, which was once ours, but there are still to be found among us minds of the highest quality. Unfortunately, many of them appear to be succumbing to a certain obsession with ethnicity. This is further exacerbated by the terms we use to describe one another, ‘Afro-Guyanese’ and ‘Indo-Guyanese’. The current use of these terms deepens the divide and is a psychological barrier to the ‘inclusivity’ we seek. These repeated labels are roadblocks to national unity and my advice would be to ban them at all levels from our vocabulary. Let us read about ‘Guyanese’, think Guyanese and be Guyanese. Our failure to see ourselves as Guyanese is our main hindrance to cohesion and togetherness. The result is that instead of celebrating our liberation as a people, whether from slavery or indentureship, we spend valuable time and energy arguing about who is entitled by right to the greater share of the patrimony we all inherit.
If we are going to let trust be the basis of our common life we have to begin by mixing with one another as our fore-parents did and as far as possible by sharing one another’s joys and sorrows. It is our commitment to the vision expressed in our national motto that will dictate the kind of society that will eventually emerge after the present clouds have lifted and the hidden landscape is revealed in all its dazzling splendour.