Thought for the day

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - OPINION -

An un­locked door means that, oc­ca­sion­ally, you might get a devil come in, but a locked door means you have thou­sands of an­gels just walk by.

Ian MacKaye THIS past Sat­ur­day evening I was in­vited to have some “rooftop cock­tails” at a friend’s apart­ment in Brook­lyn. The rooftop, high above the neigh­bour­hood, over­looked the East River and pre­sented one of the best views of Man­hat­tan I have ever seen.

I kept pinch­ing my­self to make sure I was not dream­ing, while the rest of the time I was tak­ing pho­tographs of the bright lights of the city.

My friend was apolo­getic. “I’m so sorry, it’s over­cast this evening,” she said. “The sun­set from this rooftop is in­cred­i­ble! You would have loved it.”

A good while later she spoke to the group again: “I am so sorry about the clouds, you should see the sky on a clear night.”

It then oc­curred to me that, though it was al­most 10pm, I could see her face, and the faces of the other party an­i­mals quite clearly. Slightly puz­zled, I looked around and no­ticed that the rooftop was bright­ened with an eerie glow, and it took me a while to fig­ure out where it was em­a­nat­ing from.

You see, back home the clouds at night blot out the light of the moon and stars, and when it’s cloudy in Kim­ber­ley it gets pretty dark, but in New York the clouds cre­ate a type of screen, a dif­fuser, that bounces the glow of the city lights back down and all around. So on a cloudy night, the dark­est cor­ners in the city, I would imag­ine, are prob­a­bly il­lu­mi­nated by this ghostly glow.

It’s re­ally some­thing to see.

The lights in this place, in Times Square and on Broad­way are truly daz­zling, but af­ter be­ing in the city for a while, you even­tu­ally stop look­ing AT the lights, and start look­ing at what those bright lights re­veal.

In a city of eight-and-a-half mil­lion res­i­dents and prob­a­bly many mil­lions of tourists, every­one is go­ing some­where. Tourists (like my­self) are crawl­ing along gawk­ing at the many, many at­trac­tions in and around the city … get­ting in the way of New York­ers who are try­ing to get to and from work.

We work on their nerves. Tol­er­ance lev­els are pretty low in the Big Ap­ple. Last week I saw a well­dressed young man, prob­a­bly in his early 20s, give a tourist, around 60 years his se­nior, a dress­ing down be­cause he just sus­pected that the old man was try­ing to jump a queue. He wasn’t po­lite at all.

To me it seemed like the higher you are in so­ci­ety, and the higher you live above the city, the lower you tend to shove every­one else

– it was a dis­gust­ing dis­play of atro­cious man­ners.

But be­sides the im­pa­tient res­i­dents and the tardy tourists there are the “other” res­i­dents of New York – those who don’t move around much at all.

These res­i­dents sit on street cor­ners, hold­ing up card­board signs and dig through the garbage cans for food … and most of the time they are ig­nored. Af­ter all

New York­ers have to get to and from work and tourists are look­ing at the bright lights and the tall build­ings.

But what should one do? How can these in­vis­i­ble res­i­dents of our cities be helped?

I once read that meth­ods of help­ing the needy should be care­fully con­sid­ered, be­fore giv­ing in­dis­crim­i­nately to every­one who asks for help.

How­ever, in try­ing to help the needy we should be care­ful to give them the right kind of help. “There are those who, when helped, will con­tinue to make them­selves spe­cial ob­jects of need. They will be de­pen­dent as long as they see any­thing on which to de­pend,” the au­thor wrote.

In the end, how­ever, I sup­pose it’s up to the in­di­vid­ual to de­cide whether you want to be like a cloud that dark­ens some­one’s life or a screen that re­flects light into the lives of oth­ers … I guess it all depends on how high your rooftop is.

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