So last week was an emotional week for myself, our country and I am guessing it was for you as well. Betsi (my wife) and I went to D.C. to visit my brother who serves in the President’s Own Marine Band for the 4th O July weekend. Being in our nation’s capital and being surrounded by a lot of imagery, experiences, and events that deeply define our country provided a lot of time for me to reflect. where are we as a nation, in what ways are we are moving forward or not and how I as an individual contribute to our world. We arrived Friday and Brother Tim took us to the marine barracks club house before we were to see the Marine Parade, Brother Tim was off that night and was out guide. I felt a little out of place being one of the few people in the room who has never served in the military. In the Barracks club house I was handed a beer and immediately treated like family. I was surrounded by Veterans from every war, people of every color and religion, and I am sure people on both sides of the aisle. I got to shake veterans hands and thank them for their services which felt great to do over the fourth of July weekend. There was no talk of politics, instead stories of life, marine history and culture, pursuit of happiness, and a really cool hat made of bearskin. I felt a sense of happiness because I knew my brother had found a good home away from home. I also felt grateful to be standing in a room that symbolized what many individuals have given up for our country. I also remember thinking to myself it was going to be a good week.
We spent the next three days strolling through our Nation’s Capital among the museums, monuments, homeless, fireworks and food. We spent a majority of our time in the Newseum which covered every event in our Nation’s history from its birth to where we are now. Upon entering we stood next to the Berlin Wall and my first thought was Trump. The wall talked for itself. One side covered in graffiti told the story of a free society, protest, and free speech, while the other side colorless cement showed control. This is a piece of History we can learn from. When have walls ever worked? Remember when Tuong Lu Kim tried building a wall around South Park to stop those goddamn Mongolians, didn’t work. But in all seriousness, 2 million people cross the Mexican, U.S. border daily which I think should be expanded. The economist Michael Clemens suggests that free migration would double world GDP. You want to stop illegal immigration, you need to make it so that Mexicans want to stay in Mexico. If poverty, crime and lack of opportunity exist to the south of us they will flood to the North. I am for an open border policy or better stated by philosopher Kieran Oberman,supporting the basic human right to migrate. Remember that is how you and I got here. What do we gain from building a wall that separates and divides us? I have not found an example in history that has worked yet.
We then headed down a long hallway filled with front pages of American Newspapers. Every three steps was what America woke up to while drinking their coffee that morning. Earthquake and Fire: San Francisco in Ruins, Al Capone gets 11 years, Prohibition Ends at Last!, WAR declared on Japan by US, Assassin Kills Kennedy, Nixon Resigns, Our Nation saw Evil. Reading the same headlines that my grandparents and parents read was a unique walk through time. Looking down the hallway it was obvious that our nation is still in its infancy and we have accomplished so much in such a short time span with so much more to go. We are progressing but it’s a slow march of headlines down a much longer hallway.
I think my favorite exhibit was the Pulitzer Prize photos. Google “Pulitzer prize photos”. Each photo came with an emotionally draining story that covered the Vietnam War, 9/11, refugees in Syria, the Civil rights movement, starvation in Africa, life in Cabrini Green. So many lessons can be learned from these photos. At this point in the museum I started reflecting on how to teach. This exhibit could be an entire class. Show a picture, discuss, write, relate, talk and share. If we want to solve the world’s problems I would start here. The lesson Empathy. After arguing with several people on Facebook this week on many topics including BLM, Syrian refugees, minimum wage, and National Healthcare I brought up that my counter party lacked empathy, they agreed, but they saw that as a strength rather than a weakness. The arguments ended there. Empathy is looking at a situation with sympathy from someone else’s perspective. This should be a cornerstone of American education in my opinion. If anything a very few prosper (and its not you or I) from the majority of us lacking empathy. I’m reminded of Jay Gould quote “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” While the rich get richer our strife is aimed in all the wrong directions, vilifying, the poor (welfare recipients), teachers, millennials, blacks, cops, Muslims, women, democrats, republicans, gays, Christians, Mexicans, and Obama, thanks a lot.
We then drank scotch. I won.