I was lucky enough to visit New York City last week, and I saw a few things that gave hope to my meliorist’s heart that things can improve, that we can evolve toward a more peaceful world.
I walked by the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire that took place in 1911 where 146 workers (mostly young, immigrant woman) burned alive or fell to their death in large part because of horrific, exploitive working conditions. When I was there last week, there was construction going on in the street alongside the building that formerly housed the factory. The building site was cordoned off. Workers were wearing helmets. And they were unionized.
Later that day, I went to the site of the infamous “Five Points,” the epicenter of poverty and crime in nineteenth century Manhattan, dramatized in the movie The Gangs of New York. Today, this spot is a park. I saw elderly Asian people playing badminton and a swarm of kids of many different ethnicities giggling as they fought not with knives and pistols, but with water-filled balloons.
My most lasting impression, though, was at a department store that was literally across the street from Ground Zero. As I wandered the aisles, I saw a Muslim woman shopping with her teenage son. Nothing seemed to be on their minds, or those of their fellow shoppers, other than finding a bargain. No suspicious looks. No keeping one’s distance. No fear.
I <3 NY