“The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: “Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!”
~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
Countries are funny things. We delineate land by imaginary lines, or geographical boundaries, or cultural differences, or languages spoken. We fight over sovereignty, religion, ideology. The history of the world is a fascinating read. From Pangaea to modern day, we have evolved…on certain levels…debatably, but at least biologically speaking.
As a Political Science and History (primarily European) major in college, I focused my interest on political theory, i.e. how societies are born, how they behave, how they evolve and function, and why they may fail, and the processes behind the structures of social contracts and types of governments. I could write papers to the end of time and argue my points with flare and passion. I intended to take that passion to law school (human rights law), even studying for the LSAT, but well…life. It is still a large part of who I am, and how I view the world. My idea of fun as a kid: watching the nightly news with my father when he came home from work and asking him a million questions about why humans treat each other the way we do. I am perpetually intrigued by humanity…the good, the bad, the ugly.
But, underneath all of that drive to understand, there is always a part of me that respects the idea of what the United States strives to stand for, albeit rife with its own hypocrisies and failures at home and abroad, not to mention the displacement of native peoples. It is the controversial truth about how countries are born. But born we were. And imperfect we are. We do, however, live in a country where we have freedoms that are not guaranteed in many parts of the world, and for that, I try to remind myself how grateful I am.
I have deep respect for those willing to fight to the death for what they believe in, granted it’s the good stuff like freedom. And this country is nothing if not supported in its foundation by those who sacrifice their lives for the greater good. World peace is a noble goal, and one worth striving for. As a realist, I know it is a lofty one. It is unfortunate that we have conflicts and war, and if there are any viable options before a gun is drawn, they should be taken. We all have our opinions about US diplomacy. I’m not here to argue that. The amazing thing about this country is that we can speak our minds, we can disagree, we can write blogs and we have access to information and in many but not all cases, education (think about North Korea for one moment). But, I won’t fault those who take an oath to stand for something greater than themselves. They deserve the government’s full support, and the people’s respect. Ask yourself if you could do what they do…
On my trip to NY in April, I was treated to many kinds of political science and history porn…for this girl anyway. I will leave you with pictures of what blew my mind, regardless of your opinion about this country…its willpower and resilience cannot be underestimated.
Rousseau was right…the earth belongs to all, and while we rely on social contracts to keep order, it doesn’t always work, but it is how humans have organized what would be utter chaos, although, chaos exists either way…it is the only order of the universe, inherent entropy, the breakdown of all things over time. Here’s hoping we can at least agree someday that in order for us to maximize our existence, to survive and not destroy the planet and each other, we have to find ways to co-exist. It could take a long while. But, that’s history for you.
Happy Fourth of July, friends.
This flag hangs in the 9/11 Memorial Museum and was on a facade across from the World Trade Center the day of the attacks. It was tattered badly. Recovered during clean-up, it was sent around the country and patched back together by parts of other decommissioned flags from all 50 states. This one hit my heart…
THE eagle, people. I saw it with my own eyes. Read the description below:
George Washington crossing the Delaware in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York Stock Exchange…the motor of our world’s economy whether we like it or not.
The Wall Street Bull
Federal Hall on Wall Street where George Washington took the oath of office for President of the United States
Destroyed fire truck in the 9/11 Memorial Museum…
Brooklyn Bridge, a marvel of labor and engineering and lives lost in the creation of something bigger during the birth of a country.
The Survivor Tree at the 9/11 Memorial. This tree was buried under rubble but survived, a testament to the survivors and the resilience of this country to pick up and rebuild.
Inside Federal Hall, Wall Street
A bank vault inside Federal Hall, Wall Street
THE stone that George Washington stood on when swearing in as President. Yeah, history orgasm for me to see this with my own eyes. I just stumbled upon it, and no one was there, so I could hardly believe my eyes.
Ellis Island…a fascinating history lesson in immigration. The stories will tear at your heart.
Registration rooms of Ellis Island…beautiful windows and views.
View from Ellis Island to Statue of Liberty
Registration atrium of Ellis Island. Impressive building all around.