Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer Global Digital Post

Calling for a Few Good Statesmen and Stateswomen

First Law of Survival: “Whatever comes out of these gates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together we survive.” Russell Crowe


Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/21/2010 -- These words are from the movie Gladiator. In Gladiator Russell Crowe plays Maximus Meridius, a top Roman General. When Emperor Marcus Aurelius is killed by his own son, immediately making the son Emperor, Maximus refuses to declare his loyalty. The Emperor gives orders for Maximus to be executed but Maximus survives to become a gladiator. Respected as a gladiator, he calls for all gladiators to work as a team to survive the numerous bloodthirsty and creative attempts to kill them. Before his death in the arena, Maximus defeats the emperor and establishes a Roman Republic, as Marcus Aurelius had wished. There are many historical embellishments in the movie but you can’t help but admire the Shakespearian like movie lines. Gladiator won five Academy Awards.

Rising above partisanship or competitive divisions and working together for the greater good is called “statesmanship” or “stateswomanship.” Definitions of ‘statesman’ include: ‘a person who exercises leadership wisely’…..’without narrow partisanship’……..and, ‘one who leads with wisdom, skill and vision.’ We have all been watching lately as leaders struggle for victory over the “enemy” party. We continue to be threatened with the worst recession since the depression. Is it perhaps time for a team effort?

Effective organizations, effective movements succeed because of people working together. We have been impressed with organizations like the Macon County Nonprofit Thrift Store Alliance, an alliance of thrift stores in Macon County organized to deal with the impact of the recession and to provide funding for critical causes. Instead of competing they are sharing information, helping each other’s programs when possible.

For many years, Vanessa Bailey of Carenet and Rick Westerman of Habitat for Humanity have worked tirelessly. They have successfully encouraged large coalitions to form to help those in need. We have watched when they were exhausted because despite their great efforts many needs were still not met. They and the dedicated volunteers who work with them are true statesmen and stateswomen, humbly working together for the greater good.

The public is weary of leaders who will not compromise, who will not work together for the common good. As Michael Lewis of the Franklin Press discussed in a recent column, we await statesmen and political leaders who are able to rise above party lines.

Worthy examples of teamwork are former President Bill Clinton and former President George W. Bush working with President Obama to bring aid to Haiti. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton worked together to raise money and lead in the 2004 Asian tsunami and on helping victims of Hurricane Katrina.

According to ABC News, one in seven Americans live in poverty. In our political arena we are starving for stateswomen and statesmen that will rise above party politics and work to establish more jobs and a better economy. A recent Rasmussen poll indicated 59 percent of the American voters believe neither Democrats nor Republicans know what voters want. If there were a category on the voting ballot for “none of the above political parties,” many would check it.

America’s greatest statesman, George Washington said, “I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my heart was, if parties exist, to reconcile them.” As in our countries beginnings, one of the remarkable things about politics is that sometimes, when things look their worst, statesmen and stateswomen feel the call. We are ready for their rise to the top. Stay tuned.

Gordon Mercer is international president of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and a professor at Western Carolina University. Marcia Mercer is a writer and columnist. Go to http://9955.hostednr.com to get to our Notes on Quotes Press Room. Views expressed in this column are the views of the authors and do not reflect the views of other organizations. The authors of this column write a column for the Franklin Press in Franklin, North Carolina.