The Guyanese daily (SN, May 24, 2021) reported two “gifts”, one to UG for a Halliburton laboratory, the other an “offering [of] oil and gas services’ by a Danish company (BWS). It was also previously reported that “freebies” were provided to Iwokrama and Amazon Warriors by Exxon. In political circles around the world, this type of protest is an acceptable benign practice, but insidiously and pervasive corrupt. I am talking about political contributions, donations and donations, which are generally not questioned. But the evidence is that donors / contributors are expecting in return favors, which can be jobs for family and friends, big contracts, and as an added bonus, rub shoulders with the elitist ruling class of the upper crust. Does it smell of corruption?
In the worldly realm, there are many examples where the donor / donee relationship is falsely distorted; yet both sides are pretending innocently. In the United States, a well-known TV station that is recognized for its valuable documentaries, including Nature, receives donations from a powerful, wealthy entity that is against environmental causes. The opioids presentation on pharmaceuticals showed, among other things, contributions to museums; the reward of having their names boldly displayed to the public, hopefully for posterity. A large company that sells and promotes a popular (but dangerous carcinogen) herbicide donated to a hospital which then used the owner’s nickname on the hospital.
Halliburton is a huge multinational corporation. It “offers” a variety of field services to oil companies. He played an important role in the war in Iraq, effecting a major infrastructural “reconstruction”. He goes wherever there is a lot of money. It’s Hallibur-ton’s business to engage in big business for money, which is good for Hallibur-ton. The donor / donee relationships mentioned above must, however, be measured in accordance with other societal variables. Are donors altruistic or mercenaries? Is Stygian Sop’s modus operandi in Cerberus? Likewise, aren’t the recipients aware of the later workings of contributors, or are they driven by lust and greed – just for the money? Giving gifts is normal in society in general. In Guyana, you can hear the man in the street asking for “a raise, a small coin, change, money for lunch” or a plea to “give up something”. This is seen as a harmless solicitation. He smiles as he walks away with gratuitous misery. But when such a practice is practiced by some of the aforementioned entities, it usually smells – like “smelling a rat”.
It has been said “do not look at a gift horse in the mouth”. In my opinion, there should be a reserve depending on the type of gift and the part of the horse. I remember the idiomatic expression: “Beware of Greeks who carry gifts”. It stands to reason that those of UG (and there are many) and Iwokrama are highly educated. Iwokrama has implicitly assumed custody of Guyana’s virgin forests. They must know; they have to read; otherwise, they can be seen as “mentally lazy”, using an appropriate description (which unfortunately has been wrongly attributed to a group, rather than generally by a tempting smart and beautiful person). Put simply, Mark Twain, “The man [or woman] who does not read has no advantage over man [or woman] who cannot read. There is abundant information in the public domain regarding climate change, environmental sustainability, and the adverse consequences of fossil fuels with regard to the increase in CO2 in the world.
It’s about making the right choice and not being cynosures. I find it difficult and confusing to reconcile the relevant public information available with inaction and / or denial of scientific facts. Sir Walter Scott’s aphoristic lines: “Oh what a tangled web we weave / When we first train ourselves to deceive”, is hermeneutical. The Judeo-Christian normative informs the Western value system to have “dominance” over the earth, unlike the Eastern and indigenous ethic that humanity is part of the earth. We must rethink our values of wanting more and more insatiable, and become the guardians of the One Earth Charter. To be clear, no amount of chameleonic contortion can dispel the reality and impact of climate change and climate justice. I like to end with the premonitory words of Malcolm X: “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” And the insightful words of Marcel Proust: “The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”