Monday, April 2, 2012

My day at the United Nations

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?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Laura for posting this. You, and others like you, are there because you will do the work of which they speak. You will take broad concepts, vague ideas and make them real. I say, people like you are the most important people in the room.