Sunday, May 19, 2013

Photo-of-the-Week #107 - The Symbol of Freedom and Controversy, Washington, DC, May, 2006

It was seven years ago. It was dusk. I was in Washington, DC attending the Book Expo America trade show; the largest trade show for the book publishing industry in the U.S. The show was actually at the DC Convention Center. I shot this photo from the area surrounding the Capitol Building near Union Station and the U.S. Post Office building on Capitol Hill.

Photos of this building fill me with bittersweet thoughts and mixed emotions. On the one hand it is the symbol of "freedom," as defined by what most people describe as the greatest experiment in a functional republic and democracy the world have ever known throughout the thousands of years of civilization. On the other hand, it is also the seat of scandal, controversy and exploitation - all three in many forms. As an idealistic youth studying world history and American history and due to my lack of experience, limited knowledge of the world and naiveté, I believed in mother, apple pie, baseball and the American flag completely and without questioning. This building, the White House and the other great government buildings of Washington, DC represented what I understood as good, as true freedom and The American Way.

My views began to change a bit when I HAD to register with the Selective Service (Draft Board) at 18. My college and graduate school years opened my mind even more as I began to understand "critical thinking" and my view of our government began changing dramatically when I HAD to serve in the military at age 24. I chose to "voluntarily" enlist in the U.S. Air Force because I could serve my county in my chosen career in the recording industry in Washington, DC. I was right in the thick of it all. My view of Washington, DC and our great American experiment changed forever during and after this experience. Now, 40 years after that Air Force experience I have grown wiser, more realistic and pragmatic.

I'm still glad and thankful I was fortunate enough to be born in this country and I'm glad and proud I served my country. But, the flaws in our government and our system are so pronounced to me at this time that the future concerns me. No, not my future. I know what my future is and I don't have a lifetime ahead of me, only the natural culmination of a life lived. My concerns are for the future generations. Perhaps, sometimes it's just better to go along with the false notion that "what you don't know can't hurt you," and just go through life fat, dumb and happy. No! That's not right! I'm glad I didn't go down that road.  

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