‘Our country is a nation of beautiful agony’

PUTNEY — In reading Nick Biddle's essay, I found myself taken aback by the words, “Our democracy began not as an ideal but as a con by our Founding Fathers to spur colonists to war.” But then it was meant to be provocative.

And though I am not ready to see our Founding Fathers as cons rather than idealists, I was reminded of something I learned in college many years ago: to accept an idea or concept for hypothesis' sake long enough to attempt to understand it before dismissing it.

So I read on, and I learned some things that I didn't know.

I'm still not ready to see the Founding Fathers of this country as a bunch of cons. In fact, it brought to mind that idealistic ideas are not mutually exclusive from opportunistic goals.I think we could find many, many examples throughout history and in our own personal lives.

It also brought to mind something I have thought about several times - that our country is a nation of duality, and it has been from the beginning.

On July 4, I was listening to the radio when one of my favorite pieces of classical music was played: Florence Price's Symphony No. 1 in E minor. I love this piece because not only does the composer weave African American music with the more traditional European, but I also hear Native American sounding influences, which is rare in classical music.

The other thing that makes this piece of music so special, in my opinion, is that it really seems to capture the experience of duality. It reminds me of a quote by Allen Ginsberg in describing Jack Kerouac at the end of his life, crying “tears of joy and sadness both, of the beautiful agony of life.”

In a way, our nation is a nation of beautiful agony. And I think Florence Price really captures this in her Symphony No. 1 in E minor. I would recommend hearing it for those who have not yet done so.

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