Sunday, July 1, 2012

About it All, Part 7

"The government of the United States was developed under the idea that nobody knew how to make a government, or how to govern. The result is to invent a system to govern when you don't know how. And the way to arrange it is to permit a system, like we have, wherein new ideas can be developed and tried out and thrown away. The writers of the Constitution knew of the value of doubt. In the age that they lived, for instance, science had already developed far enough to show the possibilities and potentialities that are the result of having uncertainty, the value of having the openness of possibility. The fact that you are not sure means that it is possible that there is another way some day."

-- From The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist, by Richard P. Feynman, Basic Books, New York, 1998, pg. 49.


The following quote is paraphrased inside the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC, the which I visited just recently:

"I am certainly not an advocate for for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

- Attributed to: Thomas Jefferson to H. Tompkinson (AKA Samuel Kercheval), July 12, 1816, on

Seemed appropriate to the times, and related to the Feynman quote, too.

In other news re: my trip, I found the World War II, the MLK, and the Roosevelt/Great Depression memorials all aesthetically unsatisfying, for varying reasons. The Vietnam nurse statue, though, I thought was outstanding, both in execution and in juxtaposition w/the other Vietnam statue and the wall.

If you ever find yourself near the TJ memorial, take a minute to walk a little further to the George Mason memorial and check out the titles he's brought himself to read.

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