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STAND UP A few years ago a good friend of mine asked one of our countrys renowned politicians who is presently

a member of parliament, What would the respective political parties do should all the citizens refuse to vote? Her question was dismissed as the fanciful imagination of a young adult. She was treated to a casual That will never happenit is impossible.

Guyana is where is it today because of the that will never happen mentalities of those who wield political power and masquerade themselves as leaders. Our people labour under a fundamental misconception of the mandates of a Democratic Government. At its simplest, in a democracy, we the people invest in our government the charge of our affairs; chiefly because in the conduct of our daily lives we cannot busy ourselves with the management of those affairs. In the process we surrender a fraction of our freedom to the government in exchange for the exercise of the remainder of our freedom with little or no sharp political or judicial intervention save and except where the very fabric which holds society cohesively and coherently knitted together is threatened.

In a democracy it is the people who vest government with its powers and not the converse. No democratic government can grow beyond parameters tolerated by the people. Any abuse of political power in a democracy is in effect an indictment against the people, as no abuse can be procured except by our tolerance of same.

Also crucial in a democracy is the concept of majority rule. The collective preference of the majority prevails over that of the minority. However, this does not translate into a right to trample upon the minority. It follows that if only a minority of the people stand opposed to the arbitrary practices of the government then implicit in this stance is that the majority of the citizenry endorse these illicit practices.

However, a stance one way or the other is not conclusive of the sentiments of the people. People assume a particular stance for various reasons and

oftentimes this is influenced by ill-informed considerations. It may seem a bold assertion, but one I am prepared to risk, when I say that the masses of Guyanese are ignorant of the fact that government is an instrument of the people and not the people an instrument of government. What other justification is there for the deafening silence amidst the patent abuses meted out to ordinary Guyanese by the government and its minions? Those who are prejudiced may not be connected to us by social stature, financial standing, religious brotherhood, gender, colour coding, or any of the other superficial distinctions we amplify with haste. But we are connected on a most basic level; we are connected by the fact of our humanness and the commonality of being Guyanese. No Guyanese has a superior claim to the instruments of government. Any obstacle standing between us and a decent life and equal access to the full machinery of government should be selfplanted, not government erected.

I refuse to believe that the silence of a sizeable portion of the Guyanese population in the wake of the notorious prison escape, the Lusignan massacre, the shooting of protesters inclusive of women and children at the close of our recent elections, the Linden massacre, the preferential granting of radio licences, among so many other ills, is a well-informed stance.

I refuse to believe that our silence in the face of summary judgment being effected by the police which result in the deaths of very many of our young men, which manifests in the torture of men and women by identifiable police officers as a substitute for thorough investigations, which warrant not even miniscule confidence in our law men, is a well-informed stance.

I refuse to believe that the majority of Guyanese can remain quiet when there is evidence so overwhelmingly in favour of Shaka Chase yet still he stands charged for murder. How can we remain silent? How can we sit idly and allow the police to torture our women (Natasha Blackman) to extract confessions of matters these women adamantly assert are foreign to them?

We may not be affected personally by these ills, but our very silence facilitates their prevalence. Our guilt may be greater than that of the

government and the actual perpetrators because the real power lies in the hands of the people and not the government and its delegates. Our silence is crafting a pitiful future for our children; a future that will be characterized by submissiveness and susceptibility to myriad abuses. The future of Guyana is bound to be damning unless we stand up and speak out; unless we be proactive.

Politicians are there to serve us and even the diligent discharge of their duties is simply doing their job. They do us no favour by this. It is imperative that we call upon them to do their job- to honour the offices they have campaigned for and have been voted into. I agree that the government ought not to be a rubber stamp, but I am equally convicted that the people ought not to be the footstools of the government. There may never be that day when no one votes. But there can be that day when we make our votes count.

Ronald J. Daniels 20th May, 2013 10:00 pm.