Pastor_Kwesi_Oginga_(1)Gaps in our journey
© Pastor Kwesi Oginga
Many may think we dissipated our freedom after 1966. Once freed from the womb, a child must be strengthened physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and all faculties coordinated before the confidence comes for a first step. Though we may arguably be long past our first step, signs of our struggle for coordination, as one nation seem to be even more glaring, today than when we started out in 1966. We still measure accomplishments with a biased social compass. We still erase history with an untrustworthy political brush. We still fall victim to lethargy in militancy, in the wake of social and economic challenges. 
We measure accomplishments with a biased social compass
        Somehow, there are traces of certain social anomalies that we prayed the advent of nationhood would have effaced. We trusted ourselves, our moral, political and social leaders to plot a course that would lead us from encountering these maladies – an increasing crime rate, a decrease in morality and racism. From among these maladies, I wish to single out racism. Despite our troubled beginning as a nation, I think our founding fathers, Burnham and Jagan, shared one common vision – Our differences would be a source for celebration as we embrace the process of nation building. How far removed are we from their vision? There is such a great imbalance at all levels in our society in wealth, power, opportunity and ownership that it wreaks of danger that domination and oppression is the order of the day.  How did we arrive here?  Was it intentional, or did it just develop? We must answer these questions honestly. No one can justify the presence of such negative developments in a nation.
Guyana belongs to Guyanese – the six races that comprise its demography. Divide a people and national discomfort is born. In Guyana today, the two main races are nurturing wounds of disparity and the whole nation suffers because of this. I wish we could go back to those days when Indian and Africans were more than friends but considered brothers and sisters. We ate, drank, played, and stayed together. We did not only share villages, we were the examples of peace in the neighborhoods.  How can we change this painful social reality? Can a society ever return to racial cohesiveness once it is ruptured? Can there ever be a healing? Chances are healing lies in the construction of social structures that can bring in an atmosphere where we can work together in peace and with respect.  Leaders must be accountable to the nation they lead. At every level, we must see a new political patriotism that encourages social and economic equitability, tolerance, growth and progress. How do we start this process? Leaders must be bold enough to lead with integrity and truth. People must be free enough to cast aside their fears and insecurities and embrace change without suspicion that comes through ethnic scrutiny. We must make it a national resolution to clear our agenda of selfishness; grudges that destabilize and  all forms of marginalization and bring to the nation a quality of peace that will make it possible for us to live and be lived with. We may be different but we must be bold enough to boast and defend a common nationality.
We still erase history with an untrustworthy political brush
We must not believe that history is beginning with us. Instead, we must consider the way history has created a place for us and accept it with humility, gratitude and a sacred desire to execute justice and faithfulness in all our endeavors. In the process, we must not neglect the respect due to those who have gone before us – those on whose shoulders we now stand. There is nothing that can divide a nation more that a feeling of exclusion and unworthiness – people being disrespect for their outstanding contributions along the way. This is insulting to their history, meaning and value to society. Let us find freedom and pride in celebrating them. We must erect a pantheon of national contributors and keep the memory of their times and the significance of their contributions ever fresh in the nation’s memory. This would be a source of motivation for those present and those to come to shatter the ceiling that separates us from our greater good. It is time we move beyond the self impose limitations that negative criticism and trivial condemnation bring. We must remember that no one is perfect. Those before us would have made mistakes. We would too. Look at the positive things they have done. Celebrate their vision; celebrate their achievements.
We still fall victim to lethargy in militancy
How diligent are we in identifying our challenges as a people? Identification must inspire urgency, when the character and future of the nation is at stake.  Too often, we allow ourselves to believe that it will be painful to surrender comforts of the past that never inspired growth but lulled us into a false sense of security.  We opt for peace that brings no peace of mind. We opt for beliefs that offer no hope. We deceive our nation and ourselves by opting to major in the easy way out. Martin Luther King once said that if a man has not found something he is willing to die for, he is not fit to live. What is that one thing for which we as Guyanese are willing to die? Is it for a decent way of life where all races can live in harmony, peace and love? Is it for social, economic and political freedom to develop with integrity as a nation? Are we willing to speak the truth and to dare the devil? What about our children, are we willing to pass on the baton to them to run their race on a track that is clear of immoral obstructions? It is difficult to perceive of an encouraging landscape for our future, and yet sit idly without investing something today for our future joys. We need to take a stand. If our head is in politics, religion, science, we must go bravely and dare to make a difference. There are too many of us who are feeling the pains of a struggling nation and doing nothing constructive about it. We are depending on people whom we deem worthless, biased and corrupt to do something. The question is what are we doing about it? We can develop ourselves for a decent, peaceful, struggle that will lead to change. We can actively join in the fight but with character and integrity to make a difference by turning things around. Whatever we do, we should not sit idly by below a mountain of grief and complaints. We can do something constructive to make a difference.
From May 1966 to February 1970 and now February 2013 – this has been our journey. It has been quite an escapade. Many have fallen out of the race where the fit and the unfit plan, lead and execute old and new strategies. Frustrating at times, yes, but this is the territory on which nation building takes us. This is one decision that is for the extra long haul. God has not given us a spirit of fear. Let us not retire into the mode of defeatists. We must not give up. For as our prophetic poet, Martin Carter has said, “All are involved; all are consumed.”
SOHANI RHAAT by  Terry Gajraj

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