The culture shock that is here

Dear Editor,
I write to clarify arguments I recently made concerning cultural change in Guyana and some of the challenges that lie ahead. I was keen on showing that developments in Guyana are of such forms and magnitude that we are experiencing culture shock.
Regrettably, some took umbrage at the core arguments because they mistook aspects of my analysis for recommendations. Yet, this is bound to happen in any society that moves from bicycles to SUVs in a decade, or from roti to cereal in a much shorter time span. What we are experiencing is not easy to decipher. The principal reason for this is that the rate of economic transformation is moving at the speed of Secretariat, the thoroughbred from Caroline County in Virginia, while our culture is crawling along at the speed of Shell Beach turtles.
There should be no shame with the sluggish rate of cultural adjustments. It is quite normal, and academic studies have repeatedly found that values and beliefs are more difficult to change, compared to changing behaviour. The truth is that the dynamic of change is an amalgam of differential temporal speeds, with aspects of economy, culture and society moving in sync at times, while at other times generating contradictions, or even chaos.
No less a person than Peeping Tom, for instance, appears to be shocked that “…some businesses opened on Christmas afternoon, something which is usually unheard of…” (Kaieteur News 12/29/2022). Tom might recall that Sunday shopping was at one time seen as a violation of religious principles.
Editor, I would like to connect the observations above with some developments that highlight the problems posed by the quick-time of economic transformation with the slow-time of cultural adjustment. The efforts by the current administration to remove encumbrances from the roadside and vending from the streets of Georgetown have been met by charges of “inter-class warfare” (KN, 12/29/2022, p9) and other derogatory characterisations. The same folks, however, are the ones who usually cuss down the Government for allowing donkey-cart cultural practices to persist.
Well, you can’t have it both ways. If you want a society based on systems of standard operating procedures and the other ‘technologies’ of modern life, you need not only give up charity, but many of the informal institutions long embedded in the society.
I fully agree with KN columnist Freddie Kissoon that Government must be even-handed in executing its clean-up and clear-out campaigns. Established businesses cannot want it both ways; namely, practice pavement theft while hiding behind the elasticity of the informal sector, and at the same time complain about street vendors stealing customers, or littering. Stop it! I wrote before, and I repeat now, “[w]hat is needed is systematic and systemic resocialisation of individuals into functioning citizenship, beginning with the family. Religious practices perhaps need to become a bit more secular and address problems of everyday life, rather than focus on the principles of abstract salvation and deliverance. Educational institutions need to go beyond exam preparation and inculcate a culture of reciprocal obligations in a new regime of norms.”
And again “[n]o disrespect intended.”

Dr Randolph (Randy)