I was in Harrisburg, PA this past weekend seeing the sights – State Capitol (beautiful), Civil War Museum (sobering/informative/surreal), local restaurants (yum!), a run along the Susquehanna River, etc.
In the midst of all the fun stuff it was interesting to see the “dark side” of things too:
– A homeless man sitting on the steps of an immaculate church building, cursing loudly as people walked by in their Sunday best.
– Reading about what a disappointment the current mayor has been and how the city’s in rough economic shape with pretty low morale.
– Finding out after the “official” Capitol tour that the architect behind its impressive creation was actually imprisoned for a graft scandal. Yikes!
– Learning that the city of Harrisburg was anything but noble and heroic during the Civil War. When the Confederate army threatened to invade, most people fled instead of staying to help the troops, and many of those who remained did so to take advantage of battle-weary Union soldiers by charging them exorbitant prices for basic things such as a cup of water.
It’s natural to want to hide weaknesses, struggles, and failures from others. But learning these things about the city actually made it more real and accessible to me. We can’t relate to perfect things because we’re all imperfect.
I’ve been indifferent, I’ve been demoralized by poor leadership, I’ve lied to come out ahead, I’ve run from difficulty and taken advantage of others.
Its easy to ignore, avoid, or hide the negative. But there can be something healthy about seeing and revealing it at times too.