SENATOR MITCHELL: TERENCE BETHEL: HE DID HIS BEST…22 January 2020|Rhodes Memorial Methodist Church

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(Editor’s note: this was delivered extemporaneously and is transcribed using voice recognition technology)

It is still barely morning, so I say good morning to you all.

Reverend gentlemen good to see you all and the members of the family in particular and this is quite a surprise because I thought all the official stuff was dispensed with yesterday. But I am grateful for this smaller gathering and more intimate gathering because it caused me to remember some things that I had missed yesterday.

One of them was when I saw the Clarke brothers this morning or the Clarke family here, how Carl Bethel your [Terence’s] father used to actually walk to work at ZNS when I was a little boy and those of you who know Collins Avenue, know there’s a wall and there’s a cut in the wall which passes Bill Martin’s house. I think your grandmother’s house was just at the end of the corner and every morning it was kind of magical for us, my brother and I, because there was this voice that we only heard on the radio and my mother would say: “Well there’s Carl Bethel “and he actually walked to work every morning.

Later, of course, I got to work with him at the Broadcasting Corporation.

But I want to talk about the daily struggle, which is life and about identity; identity which dare not speak its name.

You have a struggle from you are small, to maintain who you are and to fight to develop an identity: who you are actually counts.

When I lost the General Election, I thought to myself, well you know you tried your best, but your best was not good enough and the phone rang, and it was Terence and he asked me “are you ok?” These things are usually not things that concern me in the long term and yes, I was OK.

Last evening though, there was a decision which affected me more than I thought it would that was made; which was motivated I think by prejudice and it caused me to talk about this question of identity, which goes to the root of the question of why some of us, some of our people are not on the frontline with us.

It caused me to think of all the things Terence had done: National Honours, National Heroes Day and the fight for Methodism, Majority Rule Day, the burning of the constitution, the training of accountants, the training of IT people. He was a silent counsellor.

It was very interesting after his passing for all these young PLP’s,(I thought I was their counsellor) and then it turned out that they were talking to him. One of them said “all these issues I used to raise with Terence, so now I have to talk to you.”

International Men’s Day, the Progressive Liberal Party’s Men’s Branch and its chair Keith Cox is here today as is of course our leader Phillip Davis, who supported the creation of Men’s Day, which you would not think, or you would not have thought would have been controversial in any sense of the word, but controversy it was, and he stood by it with Terence.

All of these things Terence accomplished because of his identity and who he was, but yet there was always something missing, something unspoken and although he smiled through it all, it was something we both shared, the thought that in this society that what you do is just not good enough.

So, you can direct the choir, you can be the best accountant, you can play the piano, you could meet the Queen, you can be the man who gets Martin Luther King Junior to his appointments on time, but it is just not good enough.

Yet Terence Bethel was motivated by the expression, no matter what “a luta continua”, which is a Portuguese expression which means “the struggle continues”. You get out of bed every day and you put your feet on the ground and even though you may be looking through a glass darkly, departure is a simple act, just keep walking forward until nightfall.

He lived out the Creed which he no doubt learned in Sunday school, which is love God and love your neighbour as you love yourself.

He wanted to be a Member of Parliament and after he lost the vote, I was set to ask the leader of the party that when we got in a position to use the 12 seats instead of the four (you will appreciate the difference), that one of those seats should have been your brother’s.

But sadly, that is not to be, and I recalled yesterday the joyous moment when he got to speak in the House of Assembly at the mock parliament. He was overjoyed and as I said yesterday, he called me up and said, “did you see me on television ?”  

In retrospect then as a friend you say yourself on occasions like this, you ask yourself the question : “Did I do enough? Did you take your friend for granted? Especially when he fell ill in October of last year.”

So, we are where we are. Thank you Terence for all you did for all of us, for me. You were there because of the identity which you built for yourself and accomplished all that you did. A luta continua; the smile continues.

And I remind you of some words of Paul Simon:

In the clearing stands the boxer, and a fighter by his trade and he carries the reminders of every  glove that laid  down or cut him til he cried out in his anger and his shame: I am leaving, I am leaving But the fighter still remains.

Thank you.