Saturday I flew from Chicago to New York City. The flight, only two hours long, was smooth, until the final 30 minutes it took to land. The process of landing was complicated by high winds that caused the plane to sway and the passengers to become motion sick. It could have been a lot worse.
I’m staying at a cute little hotel on 42nd Street on the East side, just a few blocks from the United Nations. In the past, when I’ve visited NYC, I stayed at the southern end near Little Italy and Soho. But, that was almost thirty years ago.
So, it’s interesting being in mid-town. But it’s more interesting to be in the lobby of the hotel watching an international crowd gather around the bar. People of all colors and languages. Some loaded down with shopping bags from Burberry and Victoria’s Secret. Some, like me, using the free internet available in lobby/bar area, saving me the expense of paying for wifi in my room.
I’m keenly aware, as I sit here, of the differences in privilege. It’s an awareness that pokes and prods at me everywhere during this visit to NYC. Differences in privilege was part of our discussion yesterday when I attended the Ecumenical Women’s Orientation at the United Nations Church Center. Many of us were acutely aware of our privileged status, being citizens of the United States. Privileged with education and a general security and safety unknown to women in many areas of the world.
We reflected on what it means to live in an age that seeks to be ecumenical and global while at the same time trying to grasp the vast differences in privilege.
In a world that seeks to be ecumenical and global how are we to manage the vast differences amongst us? Some of us live in places that are relatively safe, where we do not fear being raped, held against our will, and violently abused. Some of us live in places where we can count on a quality education and relative safety getting to and from school, while others risk being raped just by walking down the street. Some of us are forced into child labor to support the family. Some of us are forced into marriages at the age of 12, married to men who are 60. Some young girls become widowed at 13 or 14 years old, left vulnerable and ostracized by their culture.
We reflected on scripture: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, male or female…” and the idea that a single identity denies diversity.
We wondered about the strength of finding how we can be one within our differences.
We acknowledged that we cannot get to a place of unity without first working through reconciliation.