Different strokes…

first_img…on changing the worldWell, your Eyewitness saw the obligatory genuflection to Gandhi at the Promenade Gardens – just as it was done since it’s unveiling back on Oct 2, 1969. The reminder of the prophet of non-violence was probably erected to encourage us to stay off the path of going at each other with hammer and tongs – since that’s what we’d done earlier in the decade in a virtual civil war. Cheddi had said he was a Gandhian, but it hadn’t helped.Interestingly, that technique found more fertile ground in the American South with Martin Luther King, who presented a different option to Malcolm X’s “Burn baby, Burn” tactic to bring attention to America’s seething race problem. It’s a pity the FBI and the CIA didn’t learn anything from King – since his deployment of Satyagraha preceded our 1960’s riots. And we know the FBI kept a careful surveillance on him!!But if our local politicians – who’d gone along and executed the CIA-instigated riots – learnt anything, it wasn’t about “truth force” or suchlike. No sir. After the ‘60’s riots’, “choke and rob” was unleashed in Georgetown in the 1970’s to keep the opposition in line. Gandhi’s message of turning the other cheek didn’t cut much ice with those fellas. By the 80’s we’d moved on to “kick down the door bandits” who’d upped the ante in the infliction of gratuitous violence. More lessons to Opposition supporters even as the speeches on Gandhi’s greatness continued unabated.With the change of government in 1992, extreme, violent hate speeches became the norm and finally it all exploded on Jan 12, 1998, when hundreds of Indian Guyanese were beaten and violated in the streets of Georgetown. The Gandhian message still hadn’t taken hold – but the speechifying didn’t let up. “An eye for an eye will leave everyone blind!” we were told.The violence went to even greater heights (or lows??) in the new millennium. Buxton became an armed state within a state that took on the Guyanese state. Policemen lives were snuffed out like flies and bodies of suspected “bandits” started to litter the roadsides. Gandhi’s philosophy was isolated. That extended violent period – the longest in Guyana’s history didn’t end until a full decade later – in 2008, after the last of the leaders, Fineman Rawlins and his gang, were gunned down. But not until three massacres had sent the nation into shock.It’s been eight years since Fineman’s demise. Can we hope that finally those who have grouses might want to settle them peacefully?Has Gandhi’s “eye for an eye” warning kicked in?…for Colombian guerrilla warBut if we Guyanese bemoan the lack of receptivity to the Gandhian path of settling disputes peacefully here – think about what just happened in Colombia. There, leftist guerrillas under their organisation FARC, have been fighting the government for over FIFTY-TWO YEARS!! Where over 260,000 persons have been killed. Now you’d think Colombia was ripe for peace, no? The world thought so!But no! After a peace deal was brokered and signed by the government and FARC, it was taken to the people to be ratified in a referendum. And guess what vox populi said… NO PEACE! CONTINUE THE WAR!! Now what’s going on here? “Vengeance” is going on… that’s what. While the vote was very close – just a 0.25 per cent difference between the two sides.The decision gives a whole new meaning to the word “winner” since more people will die unless some face saving way out is brokered. U2’s Bono and Beatles’ Ringo Starr failed to stay the victory of the “Yes to war!”Maybe we could send our statue of Gandhi to drum up support for “his way”??…on natural disastersWith Hurricane Matthew approaching Jamaica and Haiti… your Eyewitness is reminded of the retort by the Guyanese who was complimented for having no natural disasters in Guyana.“We had Burnham!” It shut up his WI friend.last_img

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