NEW YORK CITY
Hello, everyone, this is Barbara Wolf.
I want to write you about New York City and then about the United States as a whole.
I returned last night (October 5, 2001) from New York City, and what I have seen has touched my heart. The city is different. Still lively and exciting, yet different. A fusion has occurred on September 11, and I call this a fusion of Love. The city has become gentle.
I walked the streets, I rode the buses, I took the subways, and not once did I hear an unkind word or a raised voice. There is a gentleness now.
A heavy, disheveled woman enters the bus I am riding. She stands at the front with a dollar bill in an outstretched hand and asks if anyone has change. I watch men dig into their pockets, women into their purses. One man asks how much she needs to ride the bus.
Barriers came down on September 11. The color of the skin doesn't matter anymore. The age, the poorness -- these don't matter either. In New York City today, there is a gentleness.
On a subway platform a woman asks me whether she should take Train A or C. I do not know, but a woman, and then another, offers advice. A man wearing a business suit also offers advice. All are strangers, yet, it does not matter. They have a common desire to help the woman.
I think the tragedy of September 11 has fused Love into the entire nation. What other explanation can there be for a man living in Seattle to jump into his car and drive four days nonstop to reach New York City, a city he has never before visited, in order to help?
In my city, so many people rushed to give blood that the news media had to daily broadcast a request for many to go home and return the next day.
Stores ran out of American flags to sell, and so the newspaper in my city printed a flag for people to put on the windows of their homes and cars.
In my city, people were asked to donate bedding and blankets for rescue firemen and policemen sleeping in the streets of New York City. So many responded that the news media had to ask people to stop. I spoke to a National Guard woman returning home from two weeks atGround Zero and she said that furniture stores in New York City donated chairs for the National Guard and some New York City restaurants freely served hundreds, thousands of meals to the rescuers.
Television showed an elderly woman in my city waiting with her dog to be called to New York City to help with the rescue efforts. Everyone wants to help in this moment of crisis.
PLANETNEWS@aol.com has sent an editorial from a Romanian newspaper I think sums up what I have been trying to say....that there is something about America that is strange and wonderful and full of Love at this moment of crisis.
I do not know who wrote the editorial.
Here it is:
An ode to America. Why are Americans so united? They don't resemble one another even if you paint them! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations. Some of them are nearly extinct, others are incompatible with one another, and in matters of religious beliefs, not even God can count how many they are.
Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed on the streets nearby to gape about.
The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a minister or the president was passing. On every occasion they started singing their traditional song: "God Bless America!".
Silent as a rock, I watched the charity concert broadcast on Saturday once, twice, three times, on different TV channels. There were Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Cassius Clay, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Sylvester Stallone, James Wood, and many others whom no film or producers could ever bring together. The American's solidarity spirit turned them into a choir. Actually, choir is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul. What neither George W. Bush, nor Bill Clinton, nor Colin Powell could say without facing the risk of stumbling over words and sounds, was being heard in a great and unmistakable way in this charity concert.
I don't know how it happened that all this obsessive singing of America didn't sound croaky, nationalist, or ostentatious! It made you green with envy because you weren't able to sing for your country without running the risk of being considered chauvinist, ridiculous, or suspected of who-knows-what mean interests.
I watched the live broadcast and the rerun of its rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who fought with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that would have killed other hundreds or thousands of people. How on earth were they able to bow before a fellow human?
Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit which nothing can buy.
What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases which risk of sounding like commonplaces. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion.
Only freedom can work such miracles!
(End of the editorial in the Romanian newspaper.)
Peace, Love, and Light,