I've been working on my relationship with DC and President Obama. We've had some disagreements in the past, and I thought that this trip may be the anecdote for some animosity brooding in my blood.
I've never been a fan of the famous Obama "Hope" sign. It reminded me of some totalitarian communist "Work" emblem. While most of the nation was awash in Obamaphilia, I felt a little sickened at my inability to be all that excited. Why? I'll quote comedian Bill Hicks here:
"I'll show you politics in America. Here it is:
'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.'
'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.'
'Hey, wait a minute; there's one guy holding up both puppets!'
'Shut up! Go back to bed America. Your government is in control.'"
It has always struck me as a sad irony that so many of my friends theoretically agree with politicians like Ralph Nader or Dennis Kucinich, but find them impossible to vote for because "They could never win."
At any rate, I'm straying from the topic here. This is about Obama, DC, and me, right?
DC: I've always felt the city was an embarrassment to the country. Anyone who comes to visit "the greatest nation on earth" goes to our capitol, and what do they see? Blighted communities, homelessness, dirty streets, segregated, unhappy people. Stephen Colbert described DC best in his roast of former President George W. Bush: "The chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption."
But, I'm proud to say, I've had a little breakthrough with both Obama and Washington DC on this trip. My friend Suzy taught me a mantra to recite for anyone to whom you direct negative emotion. Instead of negativity, close your eyes and recite: "I love you. I'm sorry. Thank you. I wish you happiness." Obama hasn't delivered on many important issues, but as Suzy pointed out, being angry at him only adds to the heaviness of negativity. A few mantras later, Obama and I are cool...for now.
As for the city, a beautiful thing happened when I arrived. Driving from North Carolina, I entered DC from a vantage point I'd never seen before. Up on the high interstate 395, I approached the city at sunset and the white monuments glowed in the melancholy rays of dusk. I felt a certain love and pride for us all, this naive hopeful country with such tragic hubris.
If we as a people can live up to our ideals and shed our prejudice, we may indeed be the greatest nation on earth.
(But, we still need to do some major litter pick up in DC, ok guys?)