Sep 30, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – An American politician, who died in August left some profound words behind for the world. Former Michigan Rep., Paul Mitchell, emphasised how important it was/is to search tirelessly for bipartisanship, to work hard to carve out common ground on which there can be some degree of satisfying, however partial, mutual coexistence. It is the stuff of what progress is made, the small inches of concessions that lead out of the quicksand, and away from the raw emotions, the sharp, shrill differences that, all too often, become a settled way of life. This is what has taken hold here in Guyana, like a British bulldog that sinks its teeth into yielding flesh and bone, and just does not let go.
Just before he died, former Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell expressed the following thoughts in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on August 24: “For me, it’s innate to just say where can we agree? There’s value in people you don’t agree with.”Guyanese like saying that we must agree to disagree, but look at how we disagree, when we find no value in what others have to say. It is our story, our stance, and nothing else.
It has become the national culture in this country automatically to erect fences, when there is no need for them. The worst of motives and objectives are imagined and from those, there is no movement. It just has to be so, and has been more and more in recent times.
Mitchell died relatively young at 64 after a battle with renal cancer. It was during his days in hospice that he gained some simple, but profound, perspectives, which he asked to be published after he was gone to the great beyond. As one example, “you have to choose whether or not to love people or to go through life trying to get political gain. I think we lack the willingness to just accept people. I’ve had good friends on the Democratic side. We only agree on maybe 10 to 15 percent, but I think the world of them,” he said.
He was courageous enough and honest enough to disconnect from the Republican Party in 2020 and distance from former President Donald Trump’s deceptive claims of election fraud. It could not have been easy to do so, especially since so much was hanging in the balance. But Paul Mitchell was able to summon the strength to do so. What a lesson for us in this country, who are about blind party, tribe, and leadership loyalty, whatever the facts are, no matter the commonsense persuasions that are present.
Can we Guyanese do that here? Can we Guyanese, from either side of the racial and political divide, be so honest to call things for the way they are, and then say, that is unacceptable. We should be able to answer that for ourselves, with either more of the self-serving lies and defenses offered or with a newfound truth, which could make so much of a difference in our harshly divided times.
Mitchell confessed that he would miss his family the most, but added that what he misses now in today’s political climate is “real bipartisanship.” And Guyanese readers are urged to think of this: “What I miss right now is, I wish — I’d like to talk with President [Joe] Biden and some of the people I know in the administration about, we need real bipartisanship,” Mitchell said. “Our country, our society is struggling. And it’s struggling because people can’t accept they believe in different things and look for what they agree on…”
We do believe in different things and different approaches, but we never seek to find that blend of even 10 or 15 percent of similarity that could take us somewhere, other than the separated destinies usually embraced. In this country where there is so much rage and rancidness, these closing words of the late Paul Mitchell should ring: “Learn to understand people and judge less. And love more and have less hatred … Just take the time to care about the other person. If you care about them, it’s hard to hate them.” We could use some of that here, even a little, can’t we?
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