As the nation continues to deal with political drama, and the world reels under a now-three-year-long assault by a virus, the Earth continues to evolve into a dangerously inhospitable environment. Temperatures are increasing, climate change-driven wildfires have scorched the Earth’s surface from Australia to the American West — to the even larger pile-up of trash in the ocean — to the Arctic, all adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
I look around and I see litter as a part of a long continuum of anti-social behaviour. Is there no pride in having a clean city? In my previous article, I mentioned that environmental issues within themselves are challenging, but when politics, bigotry and racism are thrown in the mix, the result can be disastrous.
The mayor of our city, Pt. Ubraj Narine, has proved exactly this. His bigoted, arrogant and cowardly behaviour is evidence of how we, as a ‘progressing’ community, have been left staggering behind. Integrity, insight and inclusiveness are the three essential qualities of leadership, none of which the mayor of our country possesses. His recent behaviour has been shameful and appalling; more so, the influence that comes with his stature is extremely dangerous to his followers. Not only is he misleading them, but he is also inciting Islamophobia, hate and racism.
I have been living in Guyana all my life as a Muslim, and I never faced religious hate crime or Islamophobia, nor would I think in a million years this would have happened in such a respectful and open-minded society. To see an ‘influential’ leader spewing hate that Guyana is an Islamic state due to the religious beliefs of President Irfaan Ali is merely pathetic.
Additionally, I am even more shocked and hurt at those who agree with his Islamophobic statement. One of the biggest problems for Guyanese is the direction in which our country is headed due to poor leadership of our past Government. This problem has been affecting our people deeply over the last few years, and is only going to get worse. The leaders of the City Hall created a culture of deception and promote misconduct that can take years to undo. It is disgraceful that the City Council has had our country like this, and what is more shameful was the mayor’s decision to boycott it.
Adapting to the realities of climate change will be expensive, but not confronting this head-on and in as unified a manner as possible will endanger lives and disrupt food chains and biospheres. The world cannot afford that, Guyana cannot afford that.
As the season of tourism beckons, guests will come, and they will see us with all our shame. We are trashy people. To see His Excellency, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Honorable Sarah-Ann Lynch tourists, diplomats and ambassadors, expatriates and important officials from the Private Sector cleaning up our mess is literally humiliating. They must be applauded for their efforts, because while we are ignoring or contributing to the mountains of trash that stain our city, they took the initiative to clean up after us from their own goodwill. This is not their home, and to see strangers and outsiders doing what citizens are meant to do is embarrassing.
Let us resolve to solve a problem that could be easily corrected if only people just met some of their most basic obligations. What is so difficult about waiting to find a trash receptacle rather than tossing garbage out? Or putting out one’s trash for collection rather than dumping it somewhere and making it someone else’s problem? Fighting for change calls for innovation, cooperation, and will power to make the changes that the world needs.