Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Revolting Experience

Last Friday, I decided that I would go to Washington DC in order to do some sight-seeing at a Smithsonian museum or some other location on / near the Mall. Much to my surprise, the trip became nothing more than a galvanization against the District and so much that is represented by it. I arrived at Metro Center and hopped off the Metro Rail, thinking that I was at Union Station. I quickly realized that I had made a misstep but had some degree of my bearings, at least enough to allow me to work my way toward the Mall. Although the heat was utterly oppressive, I rather enjoyed being out doors, given the fact that I work inside as a software engineer during the day. As I made my way toward the Mall, I passed the Departments of Agriculture and Energy and eventually came to the Smithsonian Castle. I had a sinking feeling the entire way as I walked along these roads, seeing sundry (and numerous) monuments and the massive buildings of bureaucracy, all of which were being funded from public tax dole.

I quickly decided that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with any of it any longer and made my way toward Union Station. Everywhere I looked, however, all I could catch sight of were buildings which were wholly supported and run by bureaucrats who funded their operations by means of supplication, annually petitioning the ruling class in the Capitol Building for more cash and often receiving it (or at least some exorbitant amount). There were small museums which had $500,000 in matched funds and more costly museums like the Smithsonian. There was the Capitol Building itself which housed the senators and representatives who play their little partisan games each and every day. I was certain to take in massive, ominous structures like the Department of Energy, held aloft upon pillars like the Parthenon upon the Acropolis of Athens. Like that civilization crumbled to leave pillared artifacts, so too will America have such similar remnants in coming days. Such talent being wasted in the public sector brought me nearly to tears. I thought of Mr. Roy Uptegraff Jr., a deceased man whom I never even knew except through association with his business in Scottdale, PA. I remember spending time in the conference room at this small business, looking at the various tomes which he had on the manufacture of power transformers. By all accounts which were given to me, he was a man who served the public on various committees but also had a passion for his business, a passion which was completely at his own liberty to strive after, a passion which he pursued to the very day of his death. These engineers at the Department of Energy, doubtlessly intellectually brilliant, are left to languish under the bureaucracy and never soar to the heights which their own liberty affords.

And then came the museums... Many people would argue that we should preserve our history, for history is so often doomed to make its circuitous course of destruction. I agree that we should preserve, embrace, and hold fast to our history, to our traditions, to our heritage. However, we do not hold on to that tradition if it is merely "stewarded" by the government. Stewardship always implies that something greater exists, that a king shall return to Gondor to take his throne once more. Many argue that society will not support the work of museums and historical institutions of their free will. Some may say that the government should therefore steward this heritage on our behalf. I say this is worthless in the final analysis. The citizenry should care about their heritage, and if they do not, it is far better that they forget it and pay the consequences without delay. In the end, that is what liberty is all about. Liberty is so very glorious and dreadful precisely because it lets you eat the fruits of your labor, for good or for ill. It makes all things which are good become very good indeed and all things wretched into the most sobering of experiences. In my opinion there should be no steward whatsoever. A nation which desires not to remember the lessons of the past should quickly experience the consequences of such nearsightedness. To have it any other way merely delays the inevitable, for the populace will be weaned from any such knowledge and will ultimately fall. Far better would it be for the fall to be from a ledge upon a small book shelf than from the precipice of a deadly cliff.

I intend to follow this up with what I love about where I live and also about how I was brought up. All things deep down inside of me scream those lessons from my childhood: If you are going to work, work hard (a lesson that took me some time to learn), and there is no such thing as a free meal. As I walked through the putrid streets of our nation's capital, I realized that we are a people who are being ruled by those who promote less than mankind's full realization, promising the free meals of security and peace today. I don't want any of these plates today because I want the next generation to be able to eat as well.

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