Very controversial budget cuts proposed by the AFC (*corrected previous mistake!) met with an equally controversial protest by public servants. Controversial because rumour has it that the “protest” was organised by the Ministers themselves – who could be found yesterday afternoon chanting about wanting their jobs at the head of the picket line. I passed one woman on the phone in the midst of the crowd who was telling her phone partner that everyone was told they had to be there. Someone afterwards overheard folks in one of the ministries wondering out loud about why they went…If this is all true then it seems to be a very unique protest indeed. Certainly of a nature I am unfamiliar with.
Undoubtedly that is all very interesting but I myself came away not so much concerned about who started it and whether people were coerced into going or not or whether or not people are “sheep”. What I was struck by was the number of people who turned out. One man said he was proud of Guyanese because of the hundreds who showed up to stand up for what they believe in. I could understand his amazement if not agree with his sentiment. I couldn’t help thinking about the Red Thread protest and how just a handful of people showed up to that. I had thought that was a given. That people were apathetic about human rights. Seems that they’re not – at least when it’s their own rights in question. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them felt self conscious about, essentially, letting the whole country know they were passionately and morally engaged in their own well being.
More than anything, I found the overt display of self servingness slightly absurd. What I would like to know is how many of these protesters would do the same for others? How many understand and care that there are people who don’t even have jobs to be afraid of losing who also “want milk” and “deserve employment”, as the signs read? How many of them felt a little silly calling themselves “victims” in a country which such an appalling rate of poverty and violence? Anyone?
I definitely don’t want anyone to get fired and I’m glad they won’t be. I would just like a decrease in the number of “Twilight Zone” moments during which values and ethics are so lopsided, prospects of Guyana and its people flourishing become obscure to the point of non-existence.