By Curtis R. Joseph, Jr./Opinion
From the beginning of 1977 through the middle of 1981, I lived in Hanau, Germany. At the time, I was an only child, and my mother was stationed there due to her enlistment in the United States Army. Bear in mind that this was well before the internet. Not only was there no cable television, but there was only one channel with programming in English. Consequently, that was the channel that I watched.
During the last couple of years, though I watched my fair share of cartoons, the majority of what I watched involved news coverage of the Iran hostage crisis. Many will recall that a militarized group of Iranian college students took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and captured fifty-two American diplomats and citizens. The crisis dragged on for 444 days and, by virtue of the fact that I was immersed in it, it played a crucial role in shaping my psyche.
I was ten years old at the time, and my fascination with politics began as I watched the saga play out in real time. Given my predicament, being so far detached from home, family and friends, I realized that much like the American hostages in Iran, I was a stranger in a foreign land. However, something beautiful happened during this time in my life. The other military children and I united and banded together around those things that we had in common. In short, we had to find the common in order to maintain some semblance of sanity and normalcy. Little did I know that those experiences in repeatedly finding the common would ultimately hone a very necessary life skill (i.e., the ability to relate to people who appear, on the surface, to be different than I am). I would submit that this particular skill is necessary now more than ever.
So many find themselves in the echo chamber, where all beliefs mirror their own, that any belief, no matter how unmoored it may be to reality, takes root and spreads like wildfire. To that point, look no further than the Congresswoman from Georgia, who asserts, with a straight face, that there are lasers in space causing wildfires in California. Such an assertion would be laughable if it weren’t so terribly unfortunate.
As citizens, we rely upon individuals, like the referenced representative, to travel across the country, and to gather in order to legislate in our best interests. Thereafter, it was envisioned by the Founders that those chosen as representatives would return home, having accomplished tasks that benefit our state, specifically, and our country as a whole. As I consider the numerous issues that currently beset our country, I cannot say that we have the luxury to focus energy, time, or taxpayer dollars on such drivel as the Congresswoman is spewing.
Unfortunately, we live in a world so filled with vitriol and political gamesmanship that Democrats and Republicans can’t agree that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. And, if they cannot agree upon a common nexus of facts, it is truly impossible for them to address the problems that everyday citizens face. In fact, the record reflects that each of the most recent Congresses has passed less legislation than the one that preceded it. Rising healthcare costs, stagnant wages, wage inequities between the sexes and the races, failing infrastructure, deficiencies in education, and Covid, among other things, are issues that will not solve themselves. They will only be solved when we silence the noise and focus with laser-like intentions (pun intended) on common problems that require common sense solutions.
Each and every day that the 52 Americans spent as captives in Iran was a day that required introspection and deliberation by our political leaders. Each of the 444 days was nothing short of a life-or-death situation. The stakes were high then. They remain high. We were equal to the task then. Likewise, we are equal to the task now. But we must go forward, with purpose, as one nation. For, as it is written, “The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
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