Friday, June 8, 2012

Where is the pride in citizenship?

Diplomats launch community cleanup challenge | Latest:

'via Blog this'

I am appalled and dismayed that international diplomats living in Guyana have taken on this clean up initiative. Not that I am ungrateful for their efforts, more like I am embarrassed.

EU Ambassador Robert Kopecky and his expecting wife Eliska cleaning up Georgetown, Guyana.
Source Demerara Waves.
As humans and citizens of the world we are encouraged to keep our surroundings clean. Just like combing our hair, brushing our teeth, ironing our clothes, and stepping out in a presentable manner. Growing up in the rural parts of Berbice, it was a community effort to keep our surroundings clean. I clearly remembered in the late 70s and 80s when my entire street would participate in clean up activities. Some of these massive clean up were planned, like after heavy rains. We would all make sure our drains are cleaned and grass cut in front of our homes and our neighbor's homes if need be. There really was no line. If I was cutting the grass in front of my home, I would extend to both of my side neighbors. My neighbor might be trimming the trees that border both of our homes. It was a community activity that happened whenever it was needed. No one asked us, no one made a big media splash. It was our home and we kept it clean.

These images of foreigners cleaning  up the streets of Georgetown, Guyana troubles me. Where is the community spirit? Why are foreigners cleaning up our home? Rest assured that these people no matter how pristine their background is, being in the diplomatic core, are tired of looking at filthy streets. Since nothing is getting done, they take it upon themselves to initiate a clean up. I am all for community spirit and everyone no matter who they are pitching in to assist. But this is a little embarrassing, someone else cleaning our mess. This is like someone walking into your kitchen and taking a scrub brush to your sink. Or going into your toilet and scrubbing it before they can use it. What does that say about us as a nation?

We really don't care about the way our country is portrayed in the eyes of the international community? Why would a tourist choose Guyana over the other pristine Caribbean destinations? Who would want to do business in a filthy country? These are the images broadcasted to the world. The message is loud and clear. In order to dwell in Guyana you have to clean it up first.

Let's put aside the international spectacle for a second. What about internally? How can you live in this mess? Why are you waiting for someone else to clean up this mess? Obviously, the trash was put there by someone. That someone is you! You scatter and litter expecting someone to pick up after you? Do you think your mom or dad is going to clean your crap up? Wake up, people! It is your actions that is causing this dilemma . Don't blame the government. They put systems in place for you to execute. It is your responsibility to follow the littering law. The legal system is already overloaded, should they issue arrest for menial littering? Maybe, it is time to make examples of people who break the littering laws.

One of my first memories of Georgetown was as a little boy invited to perform at the National Cultural Center. Yes, I dabbled in poetry and acting in primary school. Coming from rural Skeldon, I was in total awe of the well kept lawns, drains, flowers, plants, and clean streets.  Guyana was once a clean, pristine, and beautiful country. What happened to all the people who took pride in keeping our country clean? Are we all scattered in the diaspora? Will we ever be able to reclaim our once pristine country? Or do we have to depend on foreigners to lead the way?