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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The D.C. devil

<iately and pervasively, following like an infectious plague as I walked in a trance past statues of instrumental American figures and crisp red, white and blue flags. It gathered strength as I walked along the teeming, congested streets, as a whirlwind of screaming sirens and black SUVs rushed past. It cultivated into shivering chills down my spine when three helicopters buzzed quickly over my head, heading towards the White House. It pressed me with its importance as I watched politicians buzz about Capitol Hill, the hub of the affairs of the United States of America. 

It is called the D.C. Devil, and what it does is beg you to come play the game with it. It didn’t come just to me as I interned in D.C. this summer, but draped itself over the entire city.

You don’t actually have to have the fancy job to wear your black suit and new silver watch—it’s mandatory dress wear wherever you go. You start to find that instead of asking how one is doing, you ask what one does, and truthfully, you don’t really care about the former. It gives you a small feeling of importance and exclusion, as if you are a part of something great, even if you are unsure of what that greatness is.

The irony of it? The D.C. Devil gets you so riled up, so fresh full of energy that, “yes, I can be important!” that you lose sight of what you started out wanting and, more importantly, you lose sight of yourself. 

When you were young, something about the world grabbed you in a way that seems trivial to you now. You were curious about the color of the sky, about why insects behaved the way they did, and about your strange and rare existence as an individual among billions. Your youthful curiosity led you to feel that content, calming pleasure in your chest after reading that one book that one afternoon when life was still easy and carefree, and thoughts about your future were just transient dreams.

 But somehow, the D.C. Devil bites you, and you find that engaging in the world becomes a priority.

Suddenly, your Blackberry light won’t stop blinking red and business cards begin to pile up in your pocket instead of cash, and that side that asks the unanswerable “whys” starts to seem trivial and far away. And so you say goodbye to those questions, slowly at first, but then quickly, and you only catch a glimpse of them from time to time when some annoying writer or philosopher crosses your path with a question that you cannot avoid.

But the truth is, these questions have ideas behind them, and these ideas are hidden intricately behind every bill, every law, every theory, every action; every person is a channel through which these ideas pass. Ironically, these ideas are the underlying principles that propelled the founding of our country.
I met a top-of-the-ladder lobbyist who boasted about President Obama’s difficulty in interacting with Congressmen. “Maybe it’s his intellectual side. Too much schooling and not enough D.C.,” he said and everyone laughed.

On another occasion, a staffer for a congressman gave me her best advice. “Don’t worry about your grades, college doesn’t really matter. Just get your degree and get into the real world as quickly as possible.” 

Yet, college is perhaps the most real. It develops us as people, it forces us to think about those deeper issues that continue to creep up, in hidden forms, in every hearing room and meeting on the hill. And if you are fully taking advantage of your college experience, it will also bring back a small part of that child in you.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, politics and business have become a show. Perhaps it is the affect of the ego boost or the captivating allure that this seemingly great power struggle has on human nature, or perhaps it is the inability one often encounters, out of laziness or fear, to dig one layer deeper into these enduring issues. In any case, you are welcome to jump into the arena and play the game, but in doing so, be ready to lose your truer self in the process.


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