On Jan. 15, 1859, an anonymous pamphlet appeared as “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.” Unbeknownst to most was the fact that English poet and writer, Edward Fitzgerald, was the author. Although I, myself, am unfamiliar with Mr. Fitzgerald, I am quite familiar with the famous quatrain that he translated in 1859. For the reader, I relay the words here as follows:
“The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”
In essence, the author has reminded us that what is done is done. For whatever reason, life and time only move forward. To that point, when the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence signed their names to the document, they were fully cognizant of the fact that the deed had been done. Their names were forever etched in history. Similarly, history has recorded the names of our elected legislators, who signed on to the failed coup in an attempt to subvert the very cornerstone of our democracy. That cannot and will not be undone. Their seditious, treasonous acts will long outlive them, and their names will forever be tied to the same.
I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as coincidence. I ascribe meaning to most things that occur in my day-to-day life. In that regard, I found it noteworthy that, within an hour of the insurrection that took place at our nation’s Capitol, I found myself leading the Pledge of Allegiance at Shreveport’s Government Plaza. Words that we all learned in grade school (pledge, allegiance, republic, one nation, indivisible and justice) carried different weight as we recited them. And, as we uttered the words in unison, my mind turned to the Statue of Liberty, which I’d toured just last year.
Prior to my tour, I was under the erroneous assumption that the statue was a solid structure. However, our guide disabused me of that notion and informed me that the true beauty of the statue lay in what was not visible to the naked eye. We’re all familiar with the Eiffel Tower. However, many may not be aware that, prior to his work on the famous tower, which rises above and commands the Paris skyline, Eiffel designed the inner girding of our Statue of Liberty. As it turns out, the statue itself is less than the thickness of two pennies. But the girding allows it to withstand gale-force winds. Thus, the statue, just like the very liberty that she represents, is truly fragile.
The images of American citizens scaling the walls of the Capitol, breaking windows, and otherwise carrying on as domestic terrorists will be forever seared in time. Their actions are only rivaled by the so-called leaders who incited them to riot. There is not one among us who was truly surprised by what occurred on Jan. 6. We have been lurching toward insurrection since Nov. 7, when the President and scores of legislative enablers at both the state and federal level advanced unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud. For weeks, we have watched a President refuse to acquiesce to the peaceful transfer of power, a bedrock principle that distinguishes our country from others all over the globe. Instead of quelling insurrection, many elected “leaders” pushed their way to the front of the line so that they could lead the charge. Ironically, most of said leaders were on the same ballot that they have assailed.
Consequently, as a country, we find ourselves at the end of the road. This is as far as we can proceed in this particular fashion. We must chart a new course and drive our ship to a new land. There was a time when true servant leaders were called from among the people because they had vision relative to infrastructure, healthcare, education, civil and human rights, and housing, among other things. However, political platforms have devolved into a status quo whereby the game of politics has subsumed the aim of politics.
No longer are ideas deliberated upon and hashed out in a way that invites compromise for the good of the citizenry as a whole; rather, politicians have become so engrossed in the trappings of power that the pursuit of power has become an end in and of itself. For those who fanned the flames and incited the people with the notion that their careers would somehow benefit from such, history will record you as having aided and abetted insurrection.
We can and we must do better. All in all, our country is still a young one when consideration is given to the vast arc of history. We still have time and opportunity on our side. We can get this right. In closing, I submit the following from the speech that JFK was slated to deliver on Nov. 22, 1963:
“We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy
of our power and responsibility, that we may
exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint,
and that we may achieve in our time and for all
time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good
will toward men.” That must always be our goal,
and the righteousness of our cause must always
underlie our strength. For as was written long ago:
“except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh
but in vain.”
Curtis R. Joseph Jr.