Friday, July 7, 2017
REMEMBERING WHAT WE STAND FOR
We drove down to the DMV in San Jose recently so that Bill could take his written driver's test at the large facility there. We ended up in one of the flat, barren areas of San Jose--six lane roads, few trees or bushes, bare concrete buildings which replaced the groves of apricots and fields of flowers that filled the valley long ago.
While Bill was in the DMV, I looked around the neighborhood for a coffee house. There wasn't a Starbucks outside of the DMV; just a couple of strip malls with signs in Vietnamese and English advertising dental services, groceries, a dollar store, and a bustling laundromat. At the end of the strip mall stood a store with a dark interior, with a mirrored bar at the end. The place was filled with men of all ages. I didn't enter because I thought the place was a bar, there were no women inside, and it was only 11 a.m. I remembered how disoriented I felt when we first moved to Japan and I wasn't familiar enough with the culture or the rules of the area around me. I walked across the street still looking for a coffee house. No luck. I turned and looked back across the street to see the sign above what I had thought was a bar. The sign read: Tully Coffee Shop. I crossed back over, but before I had a chance to get a cup of coffee, Bill came out of the DMV.
We drove down Stevens Creek Boulevard, which for as long as I have been in the Bay Area, has been a wide street with strip malls hugging the edges of the road. As we went by, I noted the signs on the buildings:
A trip for a driver's license ended up with my looking at my world with renewed eyes. I saw the best and the worst of towns in the United States. The worst: the endless concrete strip malls, and the best: the mixing of cultures because we are a nation of immigrants. Where else can you see so many diverse entrepreneurs in one place? And how much richer we are because of it? The small shops inside the strip malls attest to that.
Did you see the two articles in the New York Times this Sunday about the U.S. Constitution? One is a full reprint of the Constitution with annotations; the other is an article, "The Constitution, By Hand," about people who meet in groups to write down the Constitution, word for word. In the process, they develop a better concept of what the Constitution means. Good idea, don't you think, for all of us to do?