New York State’s primary election is the same day that this edition of the paper will be in your hands, and I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. It’s no secret that I am a political junkie but not in the partisan sense; rather, as an informed and engaged citizen. I am genuinely interested in the opinions of each “side” and am happy to have a healthy discussion, regardless of whether my views are popular or not.
What does concern me, and is not at all appealing, is the current state of polarized politics. I am thoroughly convinced that while one might have a particular “passion” or “issue” the real reason for our discontent and lack of productive discourse is lack of understanding. That is not condescending at all. Rather, it is a challenge for all of us to become better informed, really do our homework and learn about the United States of America’s truly rich and colorful history and how that brought us to today’s contentious spot.
So, for this week’s diversions I am recommending three of my favorite places that helped me understand how far we have all come, why we are at this place today and gave me the facts that inform my ability to be open minded and respectful of the many voices speaking so loudly now.
National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Penn.
Honestly, this should be a “run, don’t walk” diversion. Get your facts about the United States Constitution here and not on Facebook. Located in the heart of historic Philadelphia, and adjacent to the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall, you can spend a day or a weekend learning about what “We the People” really meant and means today.
Interactive exhibits bring the US Constitution to life and explores the many facets of our freedom. This is the most comprehensive introduction and immersion to our Constitution in the country.
Why I love it:
Because it is a non-partisan educational approach to understanding what so much of our heated debate is about in Washington, DC today, and for all ages and backgrounds. Because there is really no higher power than knowledge. So, duke it out on election day at the polls, not on social media. This center will help you snap out of that mode.
Women’s Rights National Historic Park
136 Fall Street, Seneca Falls
This comprehensive national park is the place to learn about women’s rights and the 19th amendment. Through their permanent collections and significant buildings that are included in the park, one can learn all about the evolution of women’s rights, the creation and preservation of women’s right to vote and the significance of the first Women’s Rights Convention on July 19-20, 1848. The historic sites included are The Wesleyan Chapel, where the Convention was held, The Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, home of the organizer of the women’s convention, the McClintock House where the Convention was planned, and more. With more women than ever entering the political arena, it doesn’t hurt to look back and appreciate those who came before and paved their way.
Why I love it:
Because I take nothing for granted. Because I have a daughter. Because I am not a gutsy activist and without those who were I can only imagine where we would be. Because there still is so much at stake for women, best to be armed with the facts and use them as a guiding light and now a sword to keep moving forward.
Harriet Tubman Home
The Harriet Tubman National Historic Park
180 South Street, Auburn
Since there has been much debate in 2018 about Harriet Tubman being the new face of the $20 bill, why not use this time to learn more about her? One way to do this is to visit her home, now a national historic park. Her modest home is antithetical to her many great accomplishments which are part of the exhibits at the Park. Her place in history has been secured for generations for leading over 70 slaves to freedom in the North, acting as a Union spy during the Civil War, working for the rights of women and African Americans, creating a home for aged African Americans and so much more. Harriet Tubman had a navy vessel named for her in 1944 and was the first African American women to be honored on a postage stamp in 1978.
Why I love it:
Because her values and dedication to helping those in critical need, above her own, are timeless and much needed now. Because, again, doing something I have not had the courage to do, really step up, advocate and do the work to leave the world a much better place for generations to come makes Harriet Tubman a heroine for all; across all social, racial and historic boundaries.