I sat on the subway the other day next to a woman who seemed unsure that she was on the right train. Just moments before, I’d been in the same spot. I was taking a train I’d never taken before — and although it was a local train, it had arrived on the express track. Hmmm… that’s odd. So I had to decide in “a New York minute” whether to get on or not. Happily, I’d made the right choice. And by asking just a few quick questions, I was able to reassure her that she had, too.
Confirming she wanted the “downtown” train, she said she found that term a little confusing because “everything here seems like ‘downtown’ to me.” We laughed together, acknowledging that most cities have a distinct commercial “downtown” area, whereas much of New York City is commercial. For New Yorkers, residential and commercial coexist side-by-side in ways not seen in most other cities.
When I learned she was visiting for the first time, from Texas, I reassured her she would find people willing to help her navigate the city as needed. She nodded and remarked how amazed she’d been to discover just that in the couple of days she’d been here. “It’s nothing like the reputation New Yorkers have for being … you know, a little rude.”
I smiled and shared with her that I have thought frequently this summer that if New Yorkers had a theme, it would be, “We’re here for each other.”
“Yes, I can see that,” she replied, “especially after 9/11….” and her voice trailed off.
That thought had occurred to me, too — that the spirit of being here for each other did perhaps derive from those moments when people around the globe joined together to take a stand against terrorism. And now we have an opportunity to reestablish that theme, as September 11 rolls around again. It seems especially important this year, when the news reports and polling results shouts loudly and repeatedly that Americans are divided and angry.
As a Christian Science practitioner, I often refer people to inspiring words from the Bible or the textbook of Christian Science (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy) — in an effort to help individuals silence the drumbeat of discouragement and despair to hear the voice of truth and harmony that brings healing. And I laughingly admit that God doesn’t always speak to me in words from those books — sometimes an inspired message comes to me from a less hallowed source — like words from a rock and roll song. This is one of those times.
The Beatles sang, “Come together, right now.”
In undeniably more elegant words, Mary Baker Eddy expanded this concept by providing a foundation on which we can — despite our differences, and without compromising our varying belief systems and points of view — come together, right now. She wrote:
One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.