My day at the UN was… spectacular, under-whelming, over-brimming, predictable- a paradox. The Prime Minister of Bhutan talked of a new dawn, the President of Costa Rica talked of the connection between society and the environment (imagine that education and a robust social policy is linked to preservation of the environment...), Vandana Shiva talked about local food systems, and the list goes on: Seligman, Jeffery Sacks, John Helliwell, Enrico Giovanni, Lord Layard, Secretary General Moon of the UN….. and these are only a few of those who spoke…. yet those listening could have filled an agenda in themselves.
Well, my day at the UN was overwhelming. Here is what happens: you enter the gate like anyone. You do through a screening like at the airport but you do not have to take off your shoes. You then walk through the main hall (with an exhibit about women and development – but through the day you notice how few women were speaking); you walk a windy path to a annex, and then find your way to a conference room – one among many. There is guard there with a tremendously watchful eye and deep deep circles under both eyes. Exceptions make him unhappy ( I am one, and so he is not happy) . You get in by the skin of your teeth because a place is reserved for you, and now you are sitting in a quite comfortable seat with headphones in front of you and a keypad so you can listen to the speaker in any language in an excessively pleasant voice.
And you listen. And listen. And listen: to world luminaries, to Noble Peace prize winners, to presidents, ministers. But even then, what do you do? I am just a person – no expert, no politician, no world leaders, no Ph. D., Nobel Peace prize winner; but I am there, in the U.N, and so, this must mean something. What to do?
I do now know, but for now it feels like the answer is to stay the course, but to do so in a way that walks the talk – this means no more sacrifice for the benefit of others; this means take only what is freely given, give only freely, this means practice compassion and mindfulness. Doesn't it?