Friday, November 9, 2012

This is America

If you read yesterday's post on the Underground, you know we spent the day in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.  It was quite a serene and quiet place to be the day after elections.  It's hard not to spend time in D.C. without feeling a strong sense of American pride.  Here are a few of my observations.

1) Even on a "down" day, I felt like a tourist.  So many monuments to not be touched, velvet ropes to not be crossed, and armed guards protecting... I'm not sure what they were protecting.  I appreciate the need to keep "tourists" like myself from interrupting the business of America, but the distance between the governed and the governors has grown even since I first started taking this trip fifteen years ago.

2) There's too much gravity.  We took our students into the House Gallery.  I told the complaining students "It's kind of like going to Chicago and stopping by to see Wrigley Field just to see it even if there's no game."  The floor of the House was empty save the dozen other tourists who must have a better Representative than us; they got to sit in actual legislators' chairs.  I walked into the gallery sympathizing with my low-riding students.  I had to keep a grip on the waist of my pants to keep them from falling after removing my belt in order to enter the empty chambers.  Thinking it fun to "root for democracy" I encouraged a student at the end of our group to start a wave.  Security guards squelched it before it even got as far as me.  We were shuushed quite a bit on Wednesday.

3) Our country is divided, but I still visited D.C. with thankfulness that on the day after a contentious election in which nearly half of the population wanted a different outcome, we could tour our nation's capital without fear of violence or unrest.

4) America is about moving forward.  We've got quite a bit of nastiness in our history that shouldn't be ignored.  It informs us as we move into the future.  It is the ideal that all are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights.  It is the realization that we can elevate the individual and society without sacrificing one for the other.

Quote from the FDR Memorial
5) Things are going to get better, even if they get worse.  We spent our day with three-hundred almost adults.  Sometimes teaching is frustrating, sometimes it is hard.  Sometimes you want to give up and sometimes you want to quit.  But on a trip like this, you're not so much a teacher.  You get out of the way and watch.  Watch how the students interact with each other.  Watch them take the time to say thank you to a bus driver.  Watch them exchange friendly conversation with tour guides and security guards.  Watch them learn at their own pace of their own accord.  Watch them admire the monuments to our nation's history.  And take comfort in the hope that one day they too will be admired for their contribution to this American society.

1 comment:

  1. Either he's tall or people were short during the Great Depression.