I had to travel to New York City to see my neurologist this week. For me it is still the “Big City.” I still look up and stare at the Empire State Building in amazement. When there, I still work on my need to remember to watch where I am going by limiting how much I look up.
Thanks in part, to my neurologist, I can still walk freely down the city sidewalks. My Parkinson’s disease is taking its time in limiting my mobility. My mobility is mostly limited by my tight budget.
I had some pain from all the sitting on the bus ride down, but by the time I arrived, I had stretched it out and was looking forward to reporting to my neurologist that my medications seemed to be doing their job better than expected.
After the doctor’s visit, I followed through with my plan to Visit the United Nations building. I wasn’t prepared for the hassle of getting in.
On the way, I walked by what is known as the Isaiah Wall. I read the words chiseled in granite: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up swords against nation. Neither Shall they learn war anymore.”
I wondered if there was anyone I could ask associated with the UN as to how that was going. It seemed like the wall was in need of some lowering of expectation. At least swords aren’t as popular in combat as they once were. I couldn’t imagine the chiseling that would be involved if someone tried to keep this wall up to date with the latest killing technologies in need of conversion.
Many corporations have made many people very wealthy developing and selling the tools of war to whomever is buying. Some men named Rockafeler did and (continue) to do so well with this that they were able to kindly donate the land on which the UN General Assembly building sits.
I had foolishly thought the signage directing me to the UN Visitor’s entrance would direct me to that destination, rather than to the guards who told me to go across the street to the Visitors Check-In desk. After getting my driver’s licensed scanned and receiving an orange band to go around my wrist, it was back to the guards who waived me to the entry doors. Once inside, it was time for the “put your stuff in the plastic box to go through the X-ray machine” drill. I set off the alarm because I was too cheap. Too cheap to buy pants that fit since I’ve lost some weight. I thought I could get away with not taking off my belt. Wrong. I had to put the belt in a plastic box too. Once through the metal scanner, I was asked to lift my arms. I became concerned that my pants falling down might be viewed as a form of protest against peacekeepers and quickly moved to prevent that from happening, while calming explaining the reason for my quick movements.
Once inside I was captivated by the UN grounds, sculpture, and architecture. The UN General Assembly Building contained more art and architecture to admire. There was a book store and a gift shop. I liked the teddy bears with little UN tee shirts on, but didn’t buy one. And I was so grateful there was a UN Starbucks that I didn’t even care that for some reason I could not buy a latte, as I don’t care for lattes.
I saw many people who looked like they were from way out of town, but that is common in New York City.
For some reason I thought there would be more people bustling about with the look of having important business to take care of. I guess that you have to pay for a tour to see that.
Little did I know that less than an hour before I arrived for my tourism, an emergency session of the UN Security Council had concluded. An article on the this session posted on the UN website had the title: “Decrying Carnage in Aleppo, Speakers Urge Security Council To End Violence, Open Humanitarian Corridors, Engage In Genuine Dialogue. Counsil Has Not Exercised ‘Pre-Eminent Responsibilities’ Says Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.”
It is not unlike me to know little about what is going on at the United Nations. I knew where Allepo was. I had read that some horrible stuff kept happening there. I had read that it was very difficult to get good information on who was being horrible to whom and why. I did wonder if there were any good reasons as to why it was so difficult to find good information from this region of the world. I also wondered if there were any good reasonably priced restaurants between the UN and the bus station.
As I left the UN I was treated to the sight of a large C-130 military cargo plane flying low over the city. It made repeated passes. I was a bit surprised to notice so few people on the streets looking up at the show. There were a lot of people looking at items for sale, looking at holiday decorations and looking down at their smart phones. Only a few looked up to see what was flying in restricted air space. Many seemed focused on getting where they were going. I saw a few people walking fast. I don’t recall seeing anyone running.
I hear loud helicopters, but didn’t see the two military Black Hawks. I would not know one by hearing one.
This unannounced tour by military art craft over NYC was apparently just a “routine” training exercise. Training for what, I do not know.
This state of not knowing what US Armed Forces are up to and not knowing who is calling the shots seems to be the new normal for the public record.
I think that one of the reasons for this state of affairs, is that few men pound on swords to make plow parts these days. Used to be that every able-bodied man born in the USA had to wonder if they would one day get a notice that they had been selected for armed forces duty, whether they liked the sound of that or not.
Stopping what you are doing to make a living, to help make war, is on the agenda of very few men in the USA. The chances of calling up men to make a big army, has been reduced due to the availability of giant domestic and foreign security surveillance systems and big weapons.
Men in general, don’t have to worry about war as much as they used to. The world has become safer for shopping and cell phone gazing. Less need to look up and have some idea as to what is happening.
There was a song by the Buffalo Springfield that was popular in the 1960’s-70’s entitled, “For What It Is Worth.” The song included the lyric “I think it’s time we stop/Children, What’s that sound?/Everybody look what’s going down.” I guess its not that time yet.
Photo credit: Getty Images