Went running this morning on the newfound Schuykill River Trail and Kelly Drive and discovered something that’s always been there. Most people just notice the rowing houses (especially at night) as the staple of Kelly drive:
But today I randomly stopped at the North Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial (along Kelly drive) to stretch and just browsed the statues there. There were four statues that supposedly illustrates the “inner energies” that shaped America. It was especially interesting to read the specific inscriptions under each statue. The first, arranged in this order, was The Laborer with the inscription He wought miracles. The second, The Scientist: He weighted the stars. The third, The Poet: He shaped our dreams. The fourth and last, The Preacher: He guided our ways. All were interesting and great artistic pieces, but The Laborer was the one that got me most pensive, especially its inscription. In the current events of financial crisis, in the capitalistic economy that drives for profit, in the modern cultural spirit of quick money and easy living, the statue seemed to say that all these possibilities, all these freedoms, and all these miracles were wrought by hard labor. I can see it exemplified in the past generations, but I don’t see much of it in our future generation, our current generation, nor even in me. Sloth, or maybe just over-indulgence of comfort, has consumed most of America’s cultural spirit. It’s hard to see noble, virtuous laboring nowadays.
I think it’s ironic that these statues are located next to a running trail, on a couple of levels. One, running is an upper class, or more accurately white collar, activity. I wonder if there ever was a laborer who went running after a hard day’s work. Second, and more appropriate to my original train of thought, running gets you moving, gets you active, gets you out of sloth. Apart from the runners who run for image reasons, could running have a reversal affect on the culture of sloth? Hmmm… I should run more frequently.