People all over Guyana are struggling to understand the level of depravity that enabled those who committed the brutal rape and murder of young Leonard Archibald.
In the run-up to the 2015 elections, I said in an interview that “the soul of the nation is mortally wounded, and that Guyana’s political and economic crisis has, at its root, a spiritual and moral crisis.” This is painfully evident as we bear witness to the savage and inhumane behaviour of so many of our fellow citizens on a daily basis.
There are two men charged with the rape and murder of Leonard Archibald. Once convicted, I believe that they should receive the death penalty because there is a time to kill. If there is any objection from the ABC and EU countries, then let them know that we are a sovereign nation, entitled to make our own decisions regarding such matters. Although conditions in a society undoubtedly contribute to the development of this level of depravity, we cannot remove responsibility from the individuals who commit such crimes.
Having said that, we also cannot ease our own conscience by simply laying the blame at the feet of a few depraved individuals. They are, after all, a product of the spiritual and moral wasteland that we have collectively allowed to evolve. The blame for what happened to Leonard Archibald does not stop at these two individuals – it lies with each and every one of us.
Let us start at the top. For decades, we have witnessed a moral erosion at the highest echelons of society, resulting in unspeakable sexual perversions becoming the norm. Sexual transgressions that were once unheard of in Guyana have become common practice. Our children and young people are no longer safe in their homes or public spaces.
However, we must be careful not to limit our understanding of morality to one domain, that is, people’s sexual behaviour. Even the heinous crime we have just witnessed is not limited to sexual perversion alone. Rape is about the abuse of power and the ability to act in a savage and inhumane manner.
In order for us to bring about an end to this moral erosion, morality must guide all areas of the nation’s existence. Only then can we lift ourselves out of our current despair. No society can be said to be a moral one when it allows human beings to die on its streets, as we do in Guyana. No society can be said to be moral when, despite its wealth, it implements cruel economic policies that allow some people to have everything while others have absolutely nothing. It is a lack of morality that allows the political elite, across the political spectrum, to treat the people of this country with utter contempt by refusing to invest in their wellbeing and development.
Blame for what happened to Leonard Archibald is at everyone’s door. Let us turn to our pastors, imams and pandits. Turn on your TV and you will find endless religious programmes. There are churches, mosques and mandirs on every corner, and yet as theologian Harvey Cox said, “God is absent”. We must ask ourselves why all of this religious teaching and preaching is failing to impact on our society? Minister Farrakhan answered this question when he said, “because the teaching ain’t right and the preaching is false.”
We cannot blame the religious leaders and those who hold political and economic power alone. Every Guyanese must take responsibility for their inaction in the face of the tyranny and moral decay that has engulfed us. Every individual who has not had the courage and fortitude to take a stand against what has happened, and is continuing to happen to this beautiful land of ours, must take a share of the blame for the brutal attack on young Leonard Archibald.
So, although it is convenient and comfortable for us to sit back and look with horror upon the two individuals who committed this brutal act, separating ourselves from them, we cannot. They are the ugly, hideous and disgusting manifestation of the totality of the sins of this nation
The existing social and economic arrangement has brought with it a level of poverty that is dehumanizing. We have allowed a political and economic model of mal-development to be imposed on us that does not encourage us to be our brother and sister’s keeper, but rather promotes a rugged individualism and selfishness. This system has turned us into nothing more than mindless, crass consumers – crabs in a barrel. Disrespect and contempt for each other is the order of the day. The caring community is long dead. Our sense of nationhood is dying with it. People no longer take an interest in or care about what happens to those around them; instead, they are encouraged to just look out for themselves. Guyana has become a vicious society where vicious acts are becoming more and more commonplace.
OVP believes that just as we must all take responsibility for this sordid state of affairs, so too, the liberation and redemption of Guyana is the responsibility of each and every one of us. We must stop looking outside of ourselves for our salvation. It begins with us and can only be realised when we the people become conscious and active agents of change. That is why we speak about “Organisation” for the Victory of the People. We must organise, mobilise and conscientise now before our fate is sealed. Nothing short of a spiritual and cultural revolution can save us. This can only be realised when we commit ourselves to the building of a powerful and transformative people’s movement, capable of rooting out the evil at the very foundation of this society and ushering in a new order where the dignity of every human person is paramount.
Gerald A. Perreira
Leader, Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)