Tag Archives: Declaration of Independence

Look Closely and You’ll See that America Values Philosophy and Idealism

About a month ago, I talked about the best kept secret to traveling – tours. Since that post, I’ve been back into DC a few times to visit the monuments and the other sites that there are to see. There was something that struck me as particularly poignant — the US values philosophy/ideals without even knowing it.

You wouldn’t know it to watch TV, go the movies, or listen to the radio, but deeply embedded within the US is a value of philosophy and ideals. What makes me say this? Well, in visiting the monuments, you can’t help but think this. All of these important people in American history and what’s the unifying theme (besides America) between them? They had an ideal or a philosophy and they remained steadfast in pursuing that philosophy. FDR, MLK, Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, George Mason…

Speaking of George Mason: even though I just finished an MBA from George Mason University, there were some things I didn’t know about the man that I found particularly interesting. For instance, did you know that he was a mentor to Thomas Jefferson? How about that he was the smartest man that George Washington knew? Or, how about that he wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights? And that Thomas Jefferson borrowed heavily from the Virginia Declaration of Rights in drafting the Declaration of Independence?

I wonder if there will be a time (again?) when these American values will be more apparent. That is, when they will be more overt.

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After one of these trips into DC to see the monuments, I found myself sitting on a bench outside one of the stores in the Mosaic District. I was looking up at all the store fronts and thinking to myself how distracting consumerism can be. I had just spent the day steeped in American idealism — learning and reading about some of the important figures in American history and now I found myself dropped into consumerism. It [consumerism] seemed so small after FDR, MLK, and Jefferson. It seemed almost insignificant. The most appropriate word I can think of for my thoughts that day: distracting.

It really seemed like everything was distracting. That is, everything but the philosophy/idealism I had spent time with that day. The stores and consumerism — it was distracting away from the philosophy and idealism. To be fair, maybe it’s not reasonable to always be thinking about idealism and philosophy. Maybe it’s fair to sometimes indulge. I should also clarify that I’m not judging consumerism, no.

I was just noticing that after spending a day with idealism, consumerism seemed… distracting.

The Best Kept Secret When Traveling — Tours!

It’s been a few days since my last post. Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit under the weather, so I’ve heeded my advice — rest. I think I’m through the worst of it, though, so I wanted to give you a small — but important! — piece of advice before we get too far into “summer traveling season.”

For the average westerner my age, I’ve been many places. I was born and raised in the Toronto area and spent a lot of time traveling within Southwestern Ontario because I played baseball for a traveling team. I moved to Michigan for my bachelor’s degree and while there, I visited the Upper Peninsula, plenty of other towns in Michigan, traveled to South Carolina for an Alternative Break, traveled to Costa Rica as part of a class, and then to the Dominican Republic for pseudo-Alternative Break.

After this, I moved to California (driving across the country) to start graduate school in psychology. I stopped short of the PhD I’d intended to complete and ended up traveling to New Zealand for a few months. Upon returning, I lived in British Columbia before moving to Hawaii. After Hawaii, I moved to the DC area (where I currently am). As part of school trip, I spent some time in Europe. I haven’t named all the little side trips, but suffice to say, like I said, for the average person from North America, I’ve been many places.

While I’ve been many places, I don’t know that I’d say I’ve “seen” them the way that I’ve now seen Washington, DC. I’ve lived in the DC area for almost two years. I didn’t take the opportunity to see the Lincoln Memorial until I’d been living here for over a year. Of course, I’d been into DC several times, but never went to see the Memorial. Recently though, I saw DC in a new light. Why? How? I took the chance to go on a tour!

I’ve been part of tour groups before, but something about this one felt different. Maybe it’s because it was something I chose and not something that was simply part of the experience. Maybe it was because the material was the US National Monuments and there’s certainly an air of mystique to them. I can’t put my finger on the whole reason, but I can tell you that most of the reason was probably because of the tour guide.

If you are ever in DC, I can’t recommend enough taking the time to go on a tour with Tim and the Walk of the Town. If you check TripAdvisor, you’ll note that of all of the activities in Washington, DC, his tour is ranked 1st. And, if you click-through to see his ratings, you’ll see that he’s received 595 Excellents out of a possible 609. That’s incredible! I can tell you that it is certainly deserved. I first went on the Saturday Night Tour and loved it so much that I came back a few days later for the Waterfront Walk. We learned about so much! I’d probably have to do the tours a couple of times to really have taken in all of the information that he offers. I don’t think I’ve yet mentioned this, but this may be important for some — one of the best parts about the Walk of the Town is that it’s free.

A brief aside: In the coming weeks, I intend to do a few posts on some of the things I learned while on these tours and I’m really looking forward to it. For instance, even though I just finished an MBA at George Mason University, I had no idea that — essentially — George Mason is the grandfather of the Declaration of Independence!

As I said, if you’re ever in DC, I can’t recommend enough the Walk of the Town. And you can be sure that the next time I find myself in a new city, I’ll be sure to find out who the best tour guide is, so I can learn about that place.