“I will spend every ounce of energy to unite this country” – President Ali
− says all Guyanese have a role to play in safeguarding our society
President Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday said he would spend all of his energies towards uniting the people of Guyana, but noted that Guyanese must first learn to respect and treat each other one for national unity to be achieved.
“I will spend every ounce of my energy in leading the effort to unite this country. But all of us across this country must commit to spending to every ounce of [our] energy to achieve the same outcome,” he posited.
According to President Ali, achieving national unity would not be a smooth road given the numerous challenges, but he contended that it should be the only road, especially since we are fundamentally stronger together.
On this note, the President expressed the hope that Guyanese would see similarities over differences and would band together out of appreciation for each other’s uniqueness and oneness.
“In order to achieve national unity, it cannot be abstract… I embrace the message of national unity; I embrace the message of the great responsibility that is before me and all of us… How often do we see each other first and foremost as human beings? And fundamentally that is what all of us are—human beings. We are the same human beings, made up the same way; and that is the first fundamental pillar we have to change in our thought process – seeing each other not as orange, pink, white, blue [and] green, but seeing each other fundamentally as part of the same family of humanity. And that is a fundamental principle that we would have to establish on this journey of achieving national unity,” the Head of State asserted.
He made these remark during an address at the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada at the Hare Krishna Study Centre in Cummings Lodge, Greater Georgetown on Sunday. The late Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement.
The President noted that whenever he visited any of the ISKCON’s facilities across the country, he would always feel comfortable, welcomed and honoured. He said that Prabhupada’s life experiences and work can be reflected on to see “real examples, real principles, real values that existed and continue to exist that shape the mind and thinking of individuals”.
Those values and principles, he added, must be translated into everyday life.
He explained that while spiritual and political leaders were seen as at extreme ends of the spectrum, it was not entirely true given that both have similar tasks.
“A spiritual leader has the responsibility of instilling values, principles, morals, ethics, of shaping the lives and enhancing the wisdom of their devotees, their followers. A political leader is guided by principles, values, a system of governance, ethics, morals that should go into shaping the lives of those that he is or she is leading, and also contribute positively to changes in society. So, then, what is the difference?” the President reasoned.
The Head of State further explained that the difference between the two came because in politics there was competition internally and at a national level. This competition, he said, drives people to try to stay ahead of each other.
However, President Ali noted that in normalising the relationship and in achieving national unity, every Guyanese should fundamentally understand that “we must govern ourselves by certain principles and values that make up society”.
He added that there could be the “fiercest competition”, but values must be established which already exist in the country’s Constitution.
“We must all subscribe to freedom; we must subscribe to fundamental rights; we must all subscribe to democracy; we must all subscribe to the rule of law; we must all subscribe to equitable treatment and we must all subscribe to a fair opportunity in our country.”
Similarly, the President added that the same efforts that Guyanese use to preserve their spiritual beliefs should be used to enhance the unification of the country. He noted that Guyanese must understand that society is governed by certain principles and values, and as such, they need to commit to ensuring that these are never broken.
“…When we become weak as individuals and as a society to the breach of any one of those fundamental principles and values that make up the society, then we help to create a break in the unity and the love and the coming together of our country because we are breaking the fundamental chain that seals the society… [So] we each play a role in safeguarding, just like this movement will safeguard the values and principles that guide your philosophy, your belief system, you will safeguard that. We also have an equal responsibility to safeguard the same values and principles that cement us as a society. So, let us be better humans to each other. Let us be a bit kinder to each other. Let us care for each other a bit more. Let us understand that a better neighbour, a strong neighbour, is better for us. A weaker neighbour creates greater vulnerability for us,” he stated.
Also attending Sunday’s celebration were former President Donald Ramotar; Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall; Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd; Culture, Youth and Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr; Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy and the Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa, among other officials.