This is the second article in a five (5) part series – Parliament: It’s not about Politics, it’s about People. The series was inspired by a string of occurrences during the 74th to 82nd sittings of the Eleventh Parliament of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. It offers brief commentary and analysis in simple language to anyone interested in learning, and thinking more deeply about the types of solutions needed to address the issues arising from Guyana’s current state.
The National Assembly is a mirror. Anything we see when we look inside it reflects who we’ve allowed ourselves to become as a nation. It is nothing less than madness to expect our Parliamentarians to operate by a set of principles and values which we do not hold them to and which many of us do not live by.
This is the hardest lesson I’ve learnt these past weeks. I do not say it to cast blame, cause shame or heighten anyone’s suffering. I say it because it is important to acknowledge that the fault lies not only in our political leaders but in ourselves (the people who have chosen them) as well. Parliament is about people and it is also about their choices. During the 74th to 82nd sittings of the Eleventh Parliament, we witnessed the consequences of our choices, our actions and lack of action.
Speaking of government is not equal to speaking of a single political party. Government is made up of three branches: the Legislature (National Assembly), the Executive (the President, Cabinet and Government Departments) and the Judiciary (Courts). All our major political parties have a voice in Parliament: A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Alliance for Change (AFC) and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). Together, they represent most of our people.
In many ways, the unsettling events we’ve witnessed in the National Assembly recently are products of a type of political loyalty that is built on and strengthened by distrust. We do not trust each other nor do we feel entirely safe among each other. Our distrustful nature is in turn a product of both periods before and after Independence.
Loyalty is the currency we have used to pay for protection and a feeling of security. And what threat is it that terrifies us so much? Each other. Beneath our distrust is a deep-rooted fear of each other which feeds frustration, anger, resentment and hate.
Our loyalty to the group we believe keeps us safe, blinds us. In such a situation, loyalty is no longer a virtue but has become a vice. It is perhaps the root of all the vices preventing us from operating by a set of principles and values necessary for moving Guyana forward and from demanding better from our leaders.
As Guyanese and at this point in our history, I believe the most important question we will ever ask ourselves is: have I placed my loyalty where it will benefit my country and all our people or have I used it to buy protection from an imagined threat which feeds a political culture that continues to destroy us?
PS – A very merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. While this is the sort of thing we’d rather not think about during the holidays, such thinking – once it leads us closer to a solution for Guyana – is the greatest gift we can give to the people we love.
Featured Image: Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan boarding British Guiana Airways Ltd (The Road to Independence, Stabroeknews.com)
Other articles in this Series:
This article, like all others in the series Parliament: It’s not about Politics, it’s about People, is not meant to advance any position on behalf of any political party or any other entity or group. It is part of a collection of political commentary and analysis – expressed in simple language by a young Guyanese – made available for anyone interested in learning and thinking more deeply about the types of solutions needed to address the issues arising from Guyana’s current political state.
A note from the Author:
Given the custom by party loyalists to misrepresent and misuse any type of political commentary to support their own positions, I feel that it is necessary to borrow the following from Thomas Paine (an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary) with whose work I became acquainted as a student of History at the University of Guyana:
Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the Object for Attention is the Doctrine itself, not the Woman. Yet it may not be unnecessary to say, That she is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of Influence public or private, but the influence of reason and principle.
Craig Village, East Bank Demerara, December 16, 2017
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