Visiting Boston this past week was an enlightening experience. It is amazing how every turn of a corner revealed some hidden gem of American History. It’s humbling really. I would get dizzy walking a brick street downtown only to realize that on one side was the home of Paul Revere with original wood siding and shuttered windows and on the other side was a towering pillar of steel and glass. And I could stand in the middle, between the past and the future, bridging the gap between 250 or so years. And I could twirl there, arms outstretched brushing my fingers against wood and glass and wood and glass, past and future and past and future and realize just how much has changed, and yet also come to realize just how much has stayed the same. Everything continues to spin. History repeats itself endlessly. It is only the actors and the props on the stage that change.
For instance, the other day Andrea and I rode a train into downtown Boston and visited the market near the pier for dinner. Then, while I played around with my camera, Andrea scurried in and out of some shops. As we left the last one and started down the sidewalk I noticed she was holding a bag and I casually asked her what she had bought.
“Oh, just some things to take back for friends. It was a gift shop. I bought gifts.”
“Cool. Like what?”
She started pulling things out one at a time. “I got this for the girls… and one of these for Gideon. Oh, and look at this-” She took out a small metal tin and handed it to me. “I bought some of these.”
I angled the tin upward and read the golden label by streetlight as we crossed at a signal, “Oh, it’s tea! That’s cool. So, it’s, like, the same kind of tea that was used in the Boston Tea Party?”
“Yes! I thought that would be fun, and it was a decent price too.” She glanced over the receipt. “Oh man. I thought it was a decent price. I guess I didn’t factor in the sales tax.”
“What?” I snatched the receipt from her hand and glanced at the subtotals. “Holy cow! That’s insane! How can they do that?”
She shrugged, “It’s not a big deal.”
But I was becoming enraged, “Andrea, it IS a big deal. I can’t believe they would gouge us like that?” I shook my arms in frustration, “What are we doing in this ridiculous socialist town? Everything is so much more expensive than it has to be. We are going broke here and it’s only been less than a week! These people are just jacking up the prices to take advantage of tourists. We are paying to run this stupid city and we don’t even live here. We are paying for it in T-shirts and Samuel Adams coloring books. I’m paying for it in commemorative tins of tea!”
“James, settle down.”
A crowd was starting to form.
“I will not settle down! It’s injustice!” I shouted with a raised fist.
A middle-aged man in a white polo shirt came alongside me, his round-faced wife cheering him on. They had also bought a tin of the tea. He rattled it in the air. “I’m from Wisconsin, and I’ve never once profited from the fruits of Boston city taxes! But I just paid them close to 10% sales tax for a pair of shot glasses with a sailboat printed on them!”
A man in a suit stepped forward out of the crowd. “And have you seen the bed tax? It’s nearly 15% and targets only tourists!” Torches were beginning to be passed around to the cheering mob.
“It’s not a big deal James. It was only like fifty cents or something. Let’s go find ice cream and move on.”
“Ice cream! Why? So we can pay the Mayor of Boston a tax on cream and ice as well?”
More loud agreement from the crowd.
“No!” I yelled as I was hoisted up onto the base of a statue by the man in the white polo shirt. “No! I will not enjoy an ice cream tonight! I will not enjoy the pleasantries of a reasonable man! As long as we are treated like animals to be milked for the pleasure of the crown I shall not enjoy one more moment upon this Earth! Nay! I shall not rest until justice has been served this very night! I refuse to enjoy the ice cream of tyranny as I myself and my brothers like me are forced to turn over the cream of our labors to unjust rule.”
“James, please get off the statue.”
I jumped down and dug through Andrea’s bag, withdrawing an armful of gifts.
“What are you doing?”
I began running through the crowd which then turned to follow me.
“I am going to find justice, Andrea! I’m going to MAKE justice! Justice for myself, and for you, and for our children, and for our children’s children, and for every man, woman, and child in this crowd here today! I am going to throw this tin of commemorative tea into Boston harbor!”