On Shame, Respect, and Big Daddy Politricks

je suis john adams2

I am not Amerindian and I’m not from Aishalton, but I am Guyanese and I’m ashamed. I am ashamed of the misleaders of Guyana who use bullyism and violence every day to silence and suppress Guyanese citizens from freely exercising their rights. I’m ashamed of the deliberate and continuous distortion of facts and the insults to the intelligence and integrity of the Guyanese body public by people drunk with power and determined to maintain control no matter how many lies they have to tell and how many laws they break. I’m ashamed by a President and politicians who seem unable to dialogue intelligently and respectfully with their critics, resorting instead to ‘cuss and buse outs.’ I am ashamed of the lack of sanctions and accountability for those who break the laws of the land- from Presidential Guards who assault teachers asking questions and an Attorney General who spews violent threats, disrespects women, and misuses public funds, to Ministers and other government officials who drive drunk and cause car crashes, abuse their subordinates, do little to actually meet the needs of the people, provide quality services or improve living conditions, and generally ignore the laws of decent society. Yes, there is a lot to be ashamed of in Guyana today but none of it has to do with teacher Adams.

The Aishalton Village Council has upbraided Mr. Adams for not adequately respecting the President- the ‘daddy of the country’, in their words. They have called for his dismissal from his position as Mathematics teacher at the Aishalton Secondary School and his removal from the community. I would like to take this opportunity to say a few things about respect and leadership. First of all, respect is something that must be earned through deeds that are fair and just. It is not to be given blindly just because someone happens to hold some title or seem to be at some higher level- the fact is that ALL people are born with the same rights and deserve equal respect. Those holding positions of power are public servants, put in those positions temporarily to serve the citizens of the nation. They are not gods or godfathers, just ordinary men and women with a job to do, simple as that. Secondly, we the citizens of Guyana are not children to be led like sheep and told what and how to think. We are rational, intelligent adults with brains of our own and the ability to make our own judgments and decisions. It is clear however, as we approach elections in Guyana, in this ‘silly season’, that politics is once again trumping common sense.

Children in the hinterland regions of Guyana, unfortunately, continue to suffer from a lack of quality teachers. They are not afforded the same opportunities as children on the Coast, and they routinely under-perform on national and regional tests. This is not a reflection of the abilities of the children, but a failure on the part of the government which is supposed to be providing them with qualified and competent teachers. Mathematics is a core, foundational subject, and for the Aishalton Village Council to call for the removal of Mr. Adams- a trained maths teacher with many years of experience- from his position, is appalling. It shows a complete disregard for the welfare and education of the children of Aishalton and it is shameful that the supposed ‘leaders’ of that community care so little about the future of their children that they are willing to sacrifice them to the altar of ‘Big Daddy’ politricks.

Mothers and fathers are to be respected yes, but not if they’re abusing or harming their children, family, or community. Then, they are to be held accountable. It is clear to anyone who looks at Guyana today, that bullyism, violence, and dishonesty have become the norm. These are the lessons that the youth are absorbing and we can see the results clearly- too many who lack love for self and others, who believe in might over right, who are unable to think critically and outside the ‘box’, who are loath to challenge the status quo, who live in fear, and who willingly and passively participate in their own destruction. Again- this is not the fault of the youth; children are not born liars, bullies, and abusers- these are all behaviors that they learn over time, that they are taught by the adults and the environment in which they grow up. For this, we should all be ashamed.

Children need adults who care about their well-being, not just about power and control. Children need mathematics teachers. Children need opportunities for advancement and positive development. Children need a government that truly cares about them and that doesn’t just pay lip service and play with their future. Children need to know that they can freely ask questions about issues in their communities, from those who are supposed to be serving them, without fear of being slapped or beaten. Children need to learn that government officials are being paid by public funds and that they must therefore be held accountable by the people. Children need to understand that power comes with responsibility, that freedom of speech is an inalienable right of all people, and that threats, lies, and violence are not conducive or to be tolerated in a just and healthy society. These are the lessons that we need to teach the youth of Guyana today. Then again, we will be able to take pride in ourselves. Until then, yes, we have a lot to be ashamed of.

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