Vancouver, British Columbia, is one of the most charming cities I've ever visited. Simply beautiful! A good place to live I suspect. It's been called the San Francisco of Canada, whatever that means. Many say it's Canada's most attractive city. One can only imagine what that says about San Francisco, the City by the Bay! But why compare? There is no need.
Victoria, just across the Straits of Georgia on Vancouver Island, is what the name implies -- Victorian. A very lovely place. Quiet. Peaceful. Properly proportionate. It’s a city that radiates historical roots, although the pull of Victorian ethics has subsided! The Campbell River, nestled on the east coast of central Vancouver Island, is known as the Salmon Capital of the World.
Reflecting on such beauty makes life in the Nation’s Capital seem pale by comparison. Not that Washington, D.C. isn’t one of the grand cities of the world. It is. But in recent years it has become suffused with a stench that diminishes the beauty of its natural landscape. Even the intrinsic significance of its architecture and stirring monuments have lost their luster.
There’s a bit of irony here for me. For it was the allure of beauty radiating from the purposes and actions of inspired men that explains why I've spent my entire adult life in this city. Washington, D.C. used to be a city where noble goals were not always used to justify ignoble means! To be sure, ambitious men seek to win, regardless of cost. But there were always high-minded leaders who were willing to rise to the occasion and resist such temptation-- men such as Edward R. Murrow, J. William Fulbright, and Howard Baker of the McCarthy, Vietnam, and Watergate eras respectively. Such men were willing to risk everything for the sake of the common good. And they did so with a reasoned cadence. They never allowed expediency to poison our national life, or theirs.
How times have changed! Today, moral and spiritual corruption has diminished this once great city. So thick and pervasive is the stench that even the natural beauty has lost its sheen. Freedom has been diminished by arbitrary security needs and New Jersey barriers. Innocence and trust has become the victim of fear and anger. Indifference is palpable. Spiritual alienation casts a dark and frightening presence. Even the law has become a tool to empower and enrich the corrupt. Frankly speaking, the common good no longer compels America’s leaders. It has been wasted in a swirl of hedonistic and utilitarian ambitions.
Glance down the list of Congressmen, Senators, and government officials. Who stands out? Who are the leaders? Listen to what each have to say about the other. Listen to how they speak false promises. Read the op-ed pages. Read the articles published in any journal. Read any book. Listen to any talk show host or their guests. Hear the Hardball “hot shots” – a misnomer if there ever was one! All in all, quite a depressing display. Even when leaders are taken collectively, Jonathon Swift’s Lilliputians appear manly by comparison!
Clearly, the Nation’s Capital is a much different place from yesterday. I’m not sure anyone truly likes living here anymore. Even the corrupted have become weary. How can beauty reappear?