Didn’t that feel nice for a change?
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Think of it — neither liberals nor conservatives were responsible for putting the team in harm’s way. Neither side could argue for a public or privately funded solution to the rescue effort. No one could argue that Obamacare would or wouldn’t provide more affordable care for the boys and their coach once they were rescued. No one could even get in a snit over participation trophies for all the players.
Don’t think we are above making all these connections if we could.
With all the barriers that divide us on social media and cable TV talk shows stripped away, something magical happened. We were left with just one thing — the dramatic image of 12 frightened and hungry boys who might die, sitting on a small dry patch in a cave and growing weaker by the moment. We became human beings, nothing more or less, and suddenly the only thing that mattered was saving those other human beings.
Oh yes, the images helped us see the humanity. They tugged at our hearts. When we saw the rescuers shine what may have been the first light the children had seen in days and ask for a headcount, we felt just a tiny bit of what it might be like to sit in mind-numbing darkness for days, not knowing whether anyone would find you, or even know where to look.
We’ve had other images in recent months, including those of children being separated from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico. But partisanship wrapped its tentacles around those and colored everything many of us saw. Humanity took a back seat.
Then there is the case of Honduran woman who has sought sanctuary in a Salt Lake City church while appealing for asylum.
Honduras is a dangerous place, with murders and official corruption making life difficult. It was a caravan of fleeing Hondurans, you may recall, that got President Trump exercised last April when it was heading through Mexico toward the U.S. border.
The woman in Salt Lake, Vicky Chavez, said she worries about social and economic problems in her native country, but she also fears returning her two children to a situation of “domestic violence, rape and being persecuted by my (older) daughter’s father,” as she told the Deseret News.
She lost her most recent appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Judging by the public comments on the Deseret News story about this, many people have transformed her into a dehumanized political talking point.
What would happen if we stripped away the barriers and saw her and her children the way we saw those boys in Thailand? What if we could feel what she is feeling? Would our politicians look for different solutions?
Through the years, I have met with politicians who talked about what it would take to throw down barriers and find real solutions to problems. A decade ago, Rep. Rob Bishop told me if gas prices hit $4 a gallon it might rally Congress behind real long-term energy solutions. But prices never got that high on average, either then or since.
Others have remembered how the launch of the first Soviet satellite spurred the United States into a unified race to the moon, or how the attack on Pearl Harbor erased virtually all opposition to joining the war.
But those were different times.
The rescue of 12 boys and their coach in Thailand was a triumph of human will, guts, international collaboration and the faith and prayers of many. Unfortunately, it also cost the life of one rescuer, emphasizing the seriousness of the dangers.
It’s tempting to say this story, with its ultimately successful conclusion, was exactly what the world needed right now. If that’s true, it’s because the world was able to put human lives and empathy above everything else, for once.
Think of how different things would look if we could keep that vision.