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Marathon Monday

Last Sunday, thousands of New York City Marathon runners and spectators swelled the city’s population, engaging in one of the most hopeful and strenuous events in the civilized world. A post-marathon Monday always reminds me of lovers walking in the park after their first night together. There is the feeling of possibility, a world on the verge.

Running, in New York City, was not always a spectator sport, unless you count the schoolchildren in my old neighborhood, trying to hold onto their lunch-money by outrunning the bullies. (We were fun to watch, I’m told.)

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‘If you can keep it’

As the story goes, when Benjamin Franklin emerged from the Constitutional Convention, a woman approached him and asked what kind of government the new nation would be getting. “A republic, madam,” Franklin reportedly said, “if you can keep it.”

Franklin knew that there would be many pressures upon the system that the Founders had designed, pressures that could cause the then-fledgling republic to mutate into something else. Despite those pressures, that system has managed, in one way or another, to survive a civil war, two “world wars” (three, if you count the Cold War as one), several economic meltdowns, multiple waves of immigration and innumerable conflicts small and large, foreign and domestic.

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