Be a brother to your brother, for you, not him

In memory of Blackie

Tonight I want to shed tears for my villager, my friend, my brother. But the tears will not come. There is that familiar heaviness in my chest. But the pain is not the same. Because I have acknowledged my country man as my own, as my family, as my blood, the pain spreads. And still, I cannot cry for my brother because death is not the worst thing he has met.

Within the last month, I have written of the race based political machinery which plagues Guyana. I have acknowledged its existence, acknowledged that we are not as free as we may like to think. However, sometimes in examining problems some of us may think that this is all there is in our country, that it is a place of no hope. This is not true.

If there was no hope then I would not think in the manner that I do. If there was no hope then I would not write for you, for us, for those to come. If there was no hope then I would not fight the silence and rebel against the silencing. There is hope. There is always hope. But it comes with a price.

The ribbons of hope we have now can only be expanded when we are willing to acknowledge the truth and embrace the pain that comes with it. So for every one of you who is able to look at Guyana, to see it objectively, to understand the ills that plague your country, please, please help someone else to see. In this sight, there is hope.

This morning my brother died a miserable death. He died hungry and alone in an empty house across the street. How will he be remembered? The village will remember him only as Blackie; the bony man with wild locks and no home; the man who roamed Craig Old Road muttering about the lack of goodness in men. How many of us were good to him? I cannot say.

 Maybe he was mad but if he was mad then I will admit right now that the words of a mad man have held more truth and wisdom than the shallow ideals preached by our politicians; preached but never practiced.

How will he be remembered by me? I will remember the man my family taught me was a friend, the man they taught me to care for and respect. I will remember the man who spoke to me as a child when he was unwilling to speak to most adults. I will remember the man from whom I learnt to “hail” a brother with respect.

I will remember a man, a brother, the good things he did for me. In knowing him, in learning to respect him, in remembering him I will never think of him as being different. I learnt this in this same country of ours, the same country that is plagued by the fear generated by racial politics. And if I can learn, if some of us can learn, then there is hope for every man and woman among us.

But what I really wonder, is how many of us will die hungry and alone in some abandoned house; hungry for more than just food and lonely because there are few who know the truth that we do? How many of us will be good to a brother, regardless of his colour or status? How many of us will realize that in being good to our brother we really do service to ourselves? We build a better village, a better town, a better city, a better country by being good to each other.

So in the year to come, when I and those like me are busy acknowledging the problems that plague our country remember that we are only showing you truth. Remember that because you see your country for what it is, you will be better equipped to help in whatever way you can. But most of all, remember to be a brother to your brother, for you, not him.

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