By Ryhaan Shah
It probably seems strange, about being carjacked, to start a column with a headline about human decency, but I’ll come to that. The carjacking, which occurred a week ago in broad daylight on a busy street, was bold and daring, and the three carjackers got away with it. There has been not a single follow-up call from the Police that would have given some indication that our law enforcers take these criminal activities seriously.
Is this why the boldness from the bandits? That the Police can’t be bothered? Or that even if the carjackers are caught, they will serve a few months in prison, or even win a presidential pardon? After all, Granger had such compassion for the thieves of cell phones that he released them back into the world. How far a stretch from pardoning the snatching of a cell phone to the snatching of a car, once you start down the slippery slope of pardoning lawlessness?
In the days following the carjacking, friends, neighbours, even strangers visited or called to commiserate and offer support. Everybody had a story to share of a robbery, burglary, home invasion, or a handbag being snatched. It was either a personal account or one that involved a family member or friend. Everyone is touched by the crime, the fear and the violations; and, in all the accounting, there was not a single expression of faith or trust in the police. No recounting ended with a positive resolution of articles recovered and bandits caught.
On Tuesday, I heard the story of a young Guyanese family returning to their home in Ogle early Monday evening. Walking along the roadside, they were attacked by two young bandits on a CG bike, who robbed them of their cell phones and gun-butted the woman on her head – she had to have stitches — when she tried to hold on to her handbag and shield her little daughter from being assaulted. Men in that community came out with cutlasses, and the bandits sped off with the earnings of their night’s work.
This particular area has had a spate of robberies by youths who are believed to live in the Plaisance area, who target women. The Sparendaam police readily show off their long list of robbery reports, but apparently have no strategy in place to combat the high crime. Are they being loyal “kith and kin”?
After all, if wholesale thievery of state resources can be perpetrated daily by Granger and his Cabinet, why should Burnham’s small man not become a real man, this time around through his own “tiefing”?
Where every country would be alarmed by any rise in crime, and urgently establish zero tolerance programmes, Guyana’s lawlessness is the state’s political strategy, and Granger’s vow to return Guyana to Burnhamism is a chilling indictment of his Government.
Indecency has grown steadily over the past decades, and Guyana now rewards vulgarity, mediocrity, corruption and lawlessness. These, then, are the norms, and the high officials appear quite comical when they prate and pontificate with straight faces as they conform to the norms that depend on lies, lowness and indecency.
There is nothing more surreal than anyone painting the Burnham era in glorious terms. It insults the intelligence of everyone who lived through it and survived. Yet Granger does just that, and is applauded by PNC supporters who now live in Georgia and elsewhere precisely because they fled Burnhamism.
They enjoy their life in a democratic state while condoning Granger’s growing dictatorial manoeuvres. They have not forgotten why they fled, yet they applaud. This can never be reconciled with human decency.
However, there is still a high ground above the filth and vileness, where human decency and doing the right thing reside. I know this to be true. During my carjacking ordeal, motorists slowed down, hung out of their car windows and gaped and gawked out of dead, soulless eyes that would not be much different from the carjackers,’ if compared.
Moments after the carjackers sped off with my vehicle however, a stranger drove up and offered help. Her name is Marisca. She, too, could have passed by and done nothing. But she has what most of Guyana now lack: human decency, kindness, empathy, and compassion. Marisca stopped and offered assistance to someone in need.
She occupies a very rare high ground in Guyana. That she is there at all is the only hope we all have of surviving what lies ahead. How many will choose to put aside partisanship and stand with Marisca will be the deciding factor in Guyana’s future.