As the weather gets nicer in NYC I walk. The other night I had finished the day and had the luxury of walking to the play we were seeing. I walked Bleecker Street from beginning to end. The neighborhoods change when you cross the large streets from Hudson to 7th Avenue to 6th Avenue to Broadway to Lafayette.
NYC is a melting pot. Walking down the street looking at the people from kids to adults from small to large from white to black from local to tourists from dressed up to dressed down. I can’t help but think about the anger being fueled around this country (and the globe) directly linked to prejudices. The fear that people have of people who don’t look like themselves, who don’t believe in what they believe, who don’t raise their children the same way, who read different books to their kids, who just live different lives is alarming.
Years ago we were in Tel Aviv and I got into a cab and had a conversation that I still think about. The taxi driver asks me where I am from. I tell him NYC. He asks if I live in the Bronx. He knows the Bronx from the movies. I explain where I live in NYC and where the Bronx sits in the landscape of the city. He then asks me if I have children. I say I do. He asks me if I am Jewish and I say yes. He asks me where my children go to school. I tell him that our kids go to a very diverse school where their peers are from all walks of live. He is aghast. He says how can you send your children to a school where they are not among their people? I say to him that is what makes NYC so unique. We are a city of over 8 million people that come from all walks of life and in general we all get along, respect each others beliefs, way of life and actually embrace it. Embracing it makes us better people. I said to him that Israel could learn from NYC’s way to life. He laughs. He says it’s never going to happen. I told him that it was too bad because anger isn’t healthy and certainly doesn’t help anyone or any country move forward.
That conversation happened over 5 years ago and it really points to the issues that are happening in our own country. Change will happen because history has proven to us that we move forward as a society not backward but right now the anger and fear out there around people that are different than them is disturbing. The reality is that even people who look alike are different.
I love NYC for many reasons but one of the biggest reasons I love this town is how diverse it is. That diversity is why we have incredible restaurants serving every cuisine possible, theater that is cutting edge, music venues for the artists breaking in to the ones that have already broken out, galleries that are from small to big, etc. etc. It is the diversity in this town that makes NYC what it is. We can all learn from that.