Our National Motto must be more than an Anecdotal Expression

by Keith R. Williams

No one has ever been able to come up with a definitive non partisan/non pandering across the board reason as to why people commit horrible and atrocious acts. However, there are a plethora of inconvenient truths that are associative with every variety of human upon human horror imaginable. For example the worse manifestations of men’s inhumanity to man, woman and child are neither endemic or unique characteristics of any individual, group or community. And there are not, and should never be, a better or more acceptable form of such inhumanity regardless of the identity, prestige or lack thereof, of the perpetrators or their victims..

The psycho-pathological nature and animus identifiable in those who would slit the throat of a market vendor for his or her purse, is not diminished when it manifests itself in cold blooded torture, mutilation and killing of people suspected to have been involved in wrong doing, whatever its nature, by self appointed enforcers with questionable reputations. The two are interminably joined together at the same perverse hip bone so to speak, and represent, inarguably, an obscene blight on the nose of a civilized and aspiring democratic society. There are no acceptable rationales that can be advanced to obfuscate the inherent perversion of the mindsets that find these paths negotiable. Civilized society, the civilized mindset, while accepting of the reality and necessity for measurable force as tools for the preservation of law and order and the protection of life and property among other things, including, albeit regrettably, deadly force on occasion, must reject the usurpation of that power by folks who come to the forum with questionable reputations and more than likely dirty hands. An abhorrence for unlawful and mindless violence cannot, must not be selective.

During his acceptance speech at the Noble Peace Prize Ceremony Martin Luther King intoned that quote:

“Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle, and to a movement which has not yet won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize. After contemplation, I conclude that this award, which I receive on behalf of that movement, is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression”.

It is fashionable today for us to express a general abhorrence for oppression and violence and wrong doing, while maintaining a myriad of attitudes and behaviors we tend to adopt as individuals and groups, and which serve to vicariously project our values and self worth above and beyond that of others. It requires the ultimate in moral character and integrity to steadfastly hold to principles uninterrupted by momentary partisan conveniences, especially while under constant threats of violence, and actual experience of abuse and physical assaults, as was typical in the daily existence of Doctor King. Fortunately, armed with and nurtured by faith in a religious creed that demand unmatched moral and ethical standards of behavior from its adherents, he was able to stand tall on that principled pinnacle. And that he died with a prescient utterance on his lips, to wit:

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord……”

This quote magnifies his stature as a role model for fearless and un-bargaining commitment to what is right, and his life’s work as a holy grail worthy of pursuing.

There is no difference, within an ethical and moral construct, between the expression and manifestation of an absolute abhorrence for criminal violence and lawlessness, and the sometimes unpopular position that it is crucial to the well being of any society for due process and the rule of law to be enforced without favor and affection, malice or ill-will. These are unchallengeable conjunctive ethical and moral positions. Compromising rules that have been established to explicitly standardize the judicial visitation on wrong doing and legal disobedience in a society is tantamount to taking a jack-hammer to the main pillars upon which a civilized society is founded.

The scions and kith and kin of the most powerful, the most wealthy, the most influential in our societies have no earthbound or stratospheric entitlement to a different standard of justice than, say, the son or daughter of the man or woman who earns a livelihood from operating a horse drawn cart. Our worth as humans, our rights as people, as members of a country, a nation, a state, must substantively transcend the ornamental materiality that adorns and depicts our social status in our nationally defined human nestings. There is no cause more worthy of constant articulation and pursuit than that which seeks and demands fairness and balance in our interaction as a nation, as a society, as a people. And if we in Guyana are going to be able to hold up our motto of “One People, One Nation, One Destiny” before the world as a self evident truth, we have to, we must guarantee that this reality is transmitted into the experience of the people on the ground.


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