Mar 242012

15 June 2011

We the people
There are six elements you need to build a railroad: Fire. Water. Electricity. Farm. Imagination. Freedom.

True story, there’s a statue dedicated to every single one outside glorious Union Station in Washington DC.

I saw several things today I never expected to see – not just today but in my lifetime.

The Constitution of the United States of America.

The Bill of Rights.

The Declaration of Independence.

Parchment all.

And then I doubled back to the National Museum of American History to see . . . the biggest surprise of all . . . how could I not pay a visit to see . . . Dorothy’s ruby red slippers!

Here they are 🙂

Don’t you love that they look just a little worn, like all the women in the kingdom have secretly tried them on?

Washington was wonderful. I had one of the loveliest days of my trip yesterday, sensibly riding around on the big red tourist bus, the summer wind blowing my hair in the sunshine.

I had planned to walk to the Lincoln Memorial. That was to be my whole day. But the big red bus was right there at the door at Union Station. What a great decision it was to buy a ticket. I got to do two laps of the city’s iconic buildings – how else would I have known about Dorothy’s slippers and the Constitution?

Guess what DC stands for? As a joke I would have said District of Columbia and hahaha, it does. That’s how I win at Trivial Pursuit using blue spots.

I reckon the founding fathers, with all their education and love of idealism, symbolism and grandeur, were in love with Ancient Greece. I reckon it’s all that democracy, because half of Washington looks like Ancient Greece. Even the buildings constructed in the 1980s look like Ancient Greece.

That’s Abe Lincoln’s temple at the top. I’m not being funny or poetic, they call it a temple. What is funny is that I thought the statue was bronze and it was sitting by a pool. That’s what happens when your primary source of American culture and history is a cartoon family 🙂  Abe is white stone, by the way. As I said, I thought he was bronze.

Here’s . . . I can’t remember what this is, but it supports my Ancient Greece theory. It’s across the road from Dorothy’s slippers.

And here’s Thomas Jefferson’s temple. It’s beautiful. This is the only decent shot I could get from the moving bus.

Apparently, someone, a president, said, during an event that pulled together all the Nobel Prize winners one year at the White House, that it was the greatest gathering of minds in the building since Thomas Jefferson visited alone.

God Bless America.

Honestly. Is it really so wrong to be so in love with yourselves as a people? To revere the ones that rode in before you? To laud and applaud yourselves and them. To believe in your nation? Surrounded by thousands and thousands of Americans on pilgrimage to themselves, I have to ask these questions. Because Americans do believe in Grand Ideas and besides, they are such nice people. And more than besides, they have produced SO MANY good people. There must be something to believing you’re the greatest that is deeply connected to bringing forth greatness.

Can you imagine Australians queuing by the thousands for an hour or more to take a look at our Constitution ? Haha. And our Constitution is pretty top of the line too.

Now, do tell, aside from the obvious, why is it men build monuments like this one? I said aside from the obvious. All these years I have heard mention of The Monument. I had no idea it was just a stone obelisk. All by itself. Seemingly connected to nothing but a ring of flags.

And that’s the version from a distance. It’s actually on a big bare patch of ground. Here are the flags.

And here’s the sad part.

There’s not a single monument in the Capitol dedicated to a woman.

Monuments ensure we remember. That we take pride in who we are. They elevate us. They illuminate us.

Not a single woman.

Not a single word attributed to a woman, although we know very well all these utterings about freedom might just as easily have been hers.

Not a single woman revered.

What does this do to the psyches of women?

What does it do to the psyches of women to never, ever see themselves among the elevated, the applauded, the wondrous?

This is not a rhetorical question.

The inscription on one statue claims:  Freedom is not free.

And on another:  The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

We are fools to think that women have not thought great thoughts and not fought great fights for the freedom to express them.

A 30 ft statue of Martin Luther King is currently under construction.

This will be the only presence of a non-white man among the stone edifices in the Capitol.

And this is why we missed the greater historical moment when we failed to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton to the White House as the 44th President of the United States of America.

The importance of reflection to the founding fathers is clear, judging by the number of pools and parks in the Capitol.

We would all do well to reflect on the gender of greatness.

Oh, and while we’re there, remember the lengths men of patriarchal disposition have taken to demolish the temples and diminish the spirits of women, including colonising their sacred days – Christmas and Easter among them.

Lest we forget.

God Bless America.

I did two laps of the Capitol. I ate fantastic crab roll and drank sangria that tasted like cough medicine. It was only when I returned to Union Station to catch the train home I realised I DIDN’T SEE THE WHITE HOUSE. Hahaha.

But I did find wonderful shopping. Oh my Toto, the treats I could have bought for everyone! Beautiful things like I expected to find in New York I found in the museums of Washington DC.

As I was looking at the Declaration of Independence, one little boy beside me kept saying ‘I wanna see We the People. Mummy, where’s We the People.’

Five minutes later I was staring at a different parchment. There’s We the People. The first three words of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Yes it was visionary.

Think back to the times from which these documents emerged.

It was visionary and courageous and brave.

And it was 150 years before We the People was extended to women.

And God only knows how many before it included non white men.

We the People.