Tuesday, December 11, 2007

They, the people

This afternoon I stepped off a plane at Boston's Logan airport. Heading out of town during my $80 cab ride, I did some 'burb-watching. We passed through several tunnels and then merged onto I-93. In the HOV lane, the cab blasted through the town of Quincy, Mass. One strip mall/car dealership/parking garage/office building followed after another. Another non-descript bedroom community with overpriced real estate and killer traffic, in my estimation.

In this neck of the woods, I am always aware that we walk among the ghosts of the founding fathers. Quincy was the birthplace of John Adams. I became interested/obsessed with John Adams about 2 years ago, having read David McCullough's remarkable biography of this complex man. The book described Quincy as a fertile countryside, an unlikely place for a rebel. A quiet, conservative place like Quincy bore the man Thomas Jefferson called "The Colossus of Independence," one of the men to lead a rebellion against the crown. Adams was distinctive in his intelligence and his passion, yet he made incredible mistakes as he ascended to power in the earliest days of our nation. Humbled by his misjudgements, he spent his later years filled with regret.

Through the highways and the strip malls, past the construction sites and the overpasses, I tried to imagine the remote Quincy of 250 years ago. How different the landscape, the people, and the future must have appeared to the men and women then. Even the brilliant visionaries of their day cannot possibly have anticipated the complexity of our society, or the depth of our difficulties in fulfilling the truths that are self evident.


Cora Spondence said...

You're such the queen of the last line. Mighty mighty fine.

DiaBelo said...

Amazingly, Quincy has 300-year old stone walls and the Adams family home has been lovingly preserved. You just have to block your peripheral vision and hearing as the "T" rumbles by. Even the densest, most disturbed Massachusetts town has these oases of history.

Hope the ice storm didn't screw up your flight.

MJ said...

Cora stole my thought--the last line is perfection here.

I think about that often though, even in little ole Jax, that our landscape--literally and figuratively--is beyond the realm of what the founders could have envisioned.