There she was, lady liberty framed inside a metal detector. I looked around the room to see If there were any signs about not taking photos, as the image was dripping in irony. "land of the free, home of the brave" where immigrants from all over would enter New York harbor for a new start and the prospect of a better life. A place where "the new colossus" poem was written to raise money for the base of the actual statue. the famous words, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
There she was, the statue of liberty. one of the most iconic American items framed inside metal detectors operated by park service people who have been trained to say, "no pictures!"
"Sir, I am sorry, but do you see the irony in seeing the statue of liberty framed between metal detectors and bag checks?"
"officer, I understand that, but do you think it is wise to punish all the people who still believe in freedom and liberty with the fear because of a few?"
he looked at me with dead silence and had a moment where a light bulb went off, and he realized he had been trained and programmed to do a job and never ask, "why?"
It isn't me making a joke when I say "the land of the free and home of the brave has become the land of the scared and the home of the afraid." it is more a sad commentary of the social breakdown inside the country.
I don't understand the American mentality of only doing something when something big and gigantic happens to all come together. Perhaps it is that we have taken everyday events and somehow glorified what used to be "doing one's job" and putting or elevating the hype and entertainment value to it all. Look at sports. A guy in football gets the first down, or a player gets a hit – you swear they all won the world championship with the posturing and posing that some do.
Seeing the statue of liberty up close for the first time, had me marvel at how beautiful the figure really is. I have always seen it from afar and never got to see the subtle nuances and lines of the art up close. How the patina of time has made the statue more beautiful in my eyes. There was a great quote I heard in Romania about "underneath the façade, and makeup of the Russians lies the beautiful woman" they are talking about the historic architecture that Romania was and had before the soviet union was formed.
today I think of that in the united states as I upset some folks who never leave our country when they were making comments about china and Russia that sounded more like what they gleaned off someone's website. "at this time, the world is carving itself up into individual nation-states and the reality is we need alliances now more than ever, and we have alienated a lot of even our old ally's."
that comment didn't go over too well, but it is no different than any other country on the planet where people don't go outside of its borders to experience how different the cultures and customs of each place are, yet, the everyday reality is we are all human beings.
I guess that is what I marvel about with people. We are all the same, yet we have weaved and amazingly complicate web and array of connections all over this planet that still has us optimistic that we can change our paths, despite the truth of human behavior over the past 5000 years.
I guess that is why I have come full circle and realize the only thing I can control and change is myself. As I go deeper into myself (inner), I realize how unfulfilling living in an externalized human sense world is and can be. the statistics of consumerism and consumption in the united states baffle me with "how much" and the reality of "this isn't sustainable."
but people have short memories, and we don't seem to learn from some harsh lessons that others paid for us in generations past.
Just look at the photo and notice how even lady liberty has handcuffs on today. Freedom? it is more like people have figured out how to put handcuffs on people and take their freedom with consumerism and brilliant branding and marketing telling them, "this is a good life."
while I have not walked all the countries on the planet, I have been in enough to realize we can do a lot better than acting like Pavlov's rats pushing buttons to get a dose of instant gratification medication.
The older I get, the more I realize that freedom really does have a price. It also saddens me that it appears few seem to see it, or our leaders want to control and exploit it – not for the sake of the betterment of the country, but rather, their own name and legacy.
beware the man that is more worried about his legacy with the tiny blip of time he lived on earth.
what was that George Carlin line about 'save the planet?"
"folks I've got news for you. The planet has been around for billions of years. Man, a few thousand. The planet isn't going anywhere. we are."
We can change the current state of the photo I took of lady liberty. It involves merely people treating each other the way they want to be treated. It also means looking at the fringe of reality with violent acts and giving them the news as if "normal" simply won't be tolerated anymore.
We are heading into a surveillance society, and crime really hasn't gotten smaller. Incivility has gotten larger. Wouldn't that be a clue for people to wake up and realize that we are the solution to the problem we created?
Btw – here are the words to the poems of the new colossus. It took a few years for the words to be written in the base of the statue of liberty, but there are some great words in it. The odd thing is I learned about the meaning of them by being an expat and immigrating myself.
The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"