To me, this image was a very accurate representation about the dichotomies of American society. Many aspects of this image depict the contradictions ever-present in the good ole US of A. It shows a homeless man sleeping close to the nation’s center of power. Additionally, as this man sleeps on a bench there are a variety of people enjoying an afternoon at the park. A couple cuddles up, businessmen eat a meal, a man strums a guitar. It shows how suffering exists both metaphorically and physically beside leisure. Wealth besides poverty. Power besides oppression. Love besides pain. The American experience is filled with these paradoxes—and this image shows how the very best of America coexists with its worst aspects. Maybe it’s a pessimistic take on the nation, but I think that to understand what America means to Americans is to understand to vast range of experiences.
Additionally, I think this image reveals how pervasive individualism has become in everyday life. People focus on their individual activities and interests. American have developed a great capacity to ignore suffering of others because it is inconvenient and not their problem. There isn’t a sense that the success of all of those in society makes America a stronger nation, but that focus on self first will somehow lead to a better future for America. It is this very individualistic nature that allows a homeless man to sleep next to the White House.