Hello everyone, I hope you had a good week. Dawn and I recently traveled to New York for a friend's daughter’s wedding. The old saying “you need to get out more” came to mind as we flew into the city.
We often talk about cultural diversity but in Nebraska our experience with other cultures is limited. We often focus on how people from other countries are fitting into our culture. In New York we saw how all of the cultures work to fit together in one place.
With four times the people than the entire State of Nebraska, New York was very congested and you feel very crowded. I expected to feel unsafe, however it was no different really than many large cities and the police presence was significant. In any area that would attract a crowd such as tourist attractions, subway stations, etc. there were police stationed on every corner.
Many of the police were part of the City Counter Terrorism Unit. Some of these officers were in standard police uniforms while others were dressed in full SWAT gear including M-16 rifles. Armed military personnel were also stationed at the train stations with bomb sniffing dogs a regular site. It reminded me how volatile our world is and how shielded from that we are here in the Midwest.
In New York City only 37 percent of the population is white so we were exposed to many different nationalities. On one subway ride I counted four different languages being spoken at the same time. It wasn’t very long before you begin to no longer notice the difference in people and begin to assess folks by how friendly, helpful or rude they were.
With the elaborate mass transit system in New York City, getting there is not half the fun. People who are travelling from one point to another, tend to ignore everyone around them. A New Yorker told me this is because people are thinking about their own world and people on the subway or bus are not a part of that world. Once I started to look at it from that perspective it made much more sense.
We were certainly glad to be back in Nebraska, however I have a greater appreciation now for how complex the world we live in is.
On one subway ride, I saw two gay men holding hands, a Muslim woman, an Orthodox Jewish family with a very unique haircut and several other non-English speaking individuals all in the same train car.
The subway stopped, the doors opened and out they all went, back to their worlds, a world we all share. As they departed into the night I couldn’t help but think, “Bruce you have to get out more.”