Home Letters No longer will we be ‘one people’ or ‘one nation’
Recent events in our nation have brought Jean Jacques Rousseau’s famous quote “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich” sharply to mind, for we are entering that period in our history where it is happening before our eyes. The Guyana of my youth was characterised by friendships that crossed social, ethnic and economic barriers; parents did not interfere with these relationships and being ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ was never an issue, integrity of character was the only benchmark applied. I fear that this is already under threat and two recent events show that the divide has gotten wider and is almost beyond repair.
The murder of young Patrick Fraser, who was simply hanging out with friends, with no thought that anyone viewed him as any different and the shooting of Kristian Jeffery, who thought it would be acceptable to walk in the company of friends through Agricola after the Buju Banton concert are harbingers of things to come. Parents of the ‘haves’ will now be securing the gates; building the high fences, both physical and mental, to secure their offspring and friendships outside of the socio-economic circle will not be encouraged and eventually forbidden. The rich will retreat into security compounds and gated communities (already a feature) and the poor will be further isolated in ever growing pockets of despair.
Inequality will always exist in non-utopian societies, but democracy, the equal power of one vote, is a check to the politicians and parties that form Governments, or so it should be. Merton’s Strain Theory states that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals though they lack the means. The responsibility lies with Government to bridge this gap, unfortunately, our nation is being administered by a cabal of the most uncaring. In four short years, they have exacerbated the gap between the rich and poor to the brink of the unthinkable; they would rather destroy democracy and the balance it brings than give up the power and perks of office. The strain is being evidenced by the sharp rise in violent crime. It cannot be solved by the sponsoring of entertainment and sharing of tickets, that story of “bread and circus” has played out its usefulness aeons ago.
Editor, change is upon us, the expatriate community is growing daily, their salaries far exceed even the dreams of our large middle class. They will begin by renting homes but as the history of oil development shows, they will inevitably build their secure compounds, travel in heavily armoured convoys, employ armed services to escort them and live separate from the ‘locals’. The strain will be felt by those outside those compound walls, our children will not form these bonds of friendship that enrich lives and last lifetimes; the rich will live on the hills and the poor in the valleys of despair. No longer will we be “one people” or “one nation”. The poor have started eating and Granger has put us on the menu. The only hope for all Guyanese lies in that equality promised at the ballot box on Election Day.