Mahendra

The Sophia ‘Blazers’ and the East Coast ‘Grabbers’… One and the Same?

The past two weeks have given birth to two scenarios. Scenarios which seem very different when peripherally examined, but upon closer examination reveal striking similarities.

On the evening of May 11th, residents of “C” field Sophia set blaze to property (vehicles) located at a “command center” for the People’s Progressive Party Civic. In that same week residents of the East Coast of Demerara began a land-grabbing frenzy; two situations which occurred at roughly the same time. They appear very different; one violent, the other non-violent. One done by largely Afro-Guyanese and the other by Indo-Guyanese. But what do they have in common?

Firstly, neither is based on any sound reasoning. In fact, both are based on spurious assumptions, combined with a near viral rate of rumor-mongering. Why would otherwise sensible people suddenly take part in the most foolish of acts? The answer has something to do with groupthink. That is, a phenomenon in which the desire to show conformity within a group outweighs its ability to make rational and functional decisions. It was highly unlikely that even if ballot boxes were found in the pastor’s home, they would have been able to make their way into the elections machinery. It is equally unlikely that by illegally marking plots of land (some of which are legally owned already) you will eventually have legitimate claims to ownership. In neither scenario does anyone stop and think about how sensible or legal their action is. Both just go with the flow, thinking that because other people are doing it then it is okay. [This is the point where I insert an old saying from my Primary School days: “If your neighbor jumps off a cliff will you follow him?”]

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, both cases reveal signs of a volcanic accumulation of tensions which erupted emphatically. Socio-economic hardships facing both groups would have been the major causes of the individual outbursts. The people of Sophia would have endured years of marginalization by the former Administration largely because of their ‘race’ and political persuasion. The East Coast residents were promised lands by their own government whom they have supported unquestioningly for many years, but it never materialized. The frustration was no doubt overwhelming.

In the end, it is unlikely either has achieved or will achieve their short term objectives. However, both will reveal what the scientific community has been saying for many decades now, “We are all one and the same.” The notion of multiple races which identify distinct groups of people has long been proven defunct and of no biological bearing. It is a shame that we (especially those of us educated in the sciences) have allowed racism to grow firm roots in our society, and even masquerade as a legitimate thing that exists beyond the realm of social theory and concept.

The Sophia “blazers” and the East Coast “grabbers” are two sets of people who look different on the outside, but are identical on the inside. They are both people who face challenges. Challenges which cause them to trade reasoning and logics for rumors and irrationality; to exhibit the very same humanly tendencies of indignation, groupthink and desire for betterment. They are different scenarios from seemingly different people that attracted identical responses (irrational outbursts).

In our quest for unity there are no failures. Every obstacle is but a stepping stone. Let us show love and appreciation for each other. We are one and the same.

 

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