Take it outside, MPs!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

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Dear Editor,

It seems that calling fellow Members of Parliament (MPs) to meet them outside of the Parliament during heated verbal exchanges is now a battle cry for our MPs, but what happens when they do meet outside, and is the connotation worse that reality?

During the mayhem of Parliament on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 that involved MPs Daryl Vaz and Dayton Campbell locking horns, there was a request to the tune of “meet me outside”, and I found myself recalling a couple of years ago when an MP said, “If yuh tink yuh bad, come outside.” Sadly, I am no longer surprised at the depths our politics will descend, as that the bar was dirt-low to begin with; however, one would expect some level of evolution considering our dark political past that both parties are supposedly working to prevent a recurrence. We have seen such evolution and would hope that it would become systemic and much deeper than the changing of faces and swapping old for young.

“Meet me outside”, “Take it outside”, or anything similar, are popularly known to mean to move to a place outside the current location to escalate an argument or fight. Therefore, wouldn't anyone, including schoolchildren often present at sittings of Parliament, and the garrison party loyalists think that the MPs are suggesting that they put away their words and get physical?

Violence in our society, especially domestic violence and homicides, is at critical mass and to have political leaders even suggest that they settle their differences through physical confrontation is an absolute disgrace and shows disregard for the issues of the society.

None of us is perfect, but most of us aren't privy to national public office and influence. We haven't captured the importance of leading by example in our political representatives; they mirror artists who say, “Don't blame violent art for violence.”

I truly believe that most MPs are not violent people. In fact, my grandmother would often say, “Dem knock head in a Parliament but knock wine glass as dem step through the door.” And she was correct. Many MPs across the divide are close friends, family even, and share strong bonds outside of politics. Why would they transform so drastically within the political environment?

In a society where machismo, boisterous, flamboyant, and loud behaviours rule, our politics is not immune. It is clear from campaigns to budget speeches that substance must always give way to hype or “it boring”. It's easy to see how quality representation can be ruined by this need to satisfy a largely poorly educated base of support that enjoys the MPs' inability to stay above the “cuss” and “bangarang”. We have yet to sufficiently strike a balance of sustained effective debate and spirited politicking that doesn't distract from the substance, but highlights it.

We must begin to challenge our MPs and all political representatives to be conscious and ever mindful of their powerful influence; influence not meant to incite violence and divide or demand they take it outside of politics and governance. Instead their influence must be used to promote peace, unity, participation, equality, respect, activism, innovation, sustainable development, and all that a modern nation requires to be successful for 2030 and beyond.

Mario Boothe


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