New York City, more than any other city in the world, is a glorious mixture of people with hundreds of different cultures; all thrown together and somehow finding a way, despite the different shades of color, hues and tints; to amass upon the dirty streets, underground universes and high atop the skyscrapers – to produce a tapestry so beautiful, that only the hallowed hands of God could have created it.
I board the F-Train on Avenue P in Brooklyn, New York, heading for Manhattan. The train begins to fill up with the usual suspects and I force myself to look around and absorb what I see.
Its a crowded train I look across and I see a bench with a Hasidic Jew, a Korean woman and a Sikh. To the left of them, a black man listening to music, bopping his head. A Russian woman applying makeup and a heavy man wearing a Yankee hat, Yankee nylon jacket and too tight jeans.
An old man walks on at Carroll Street and holds on to the pole. Simultaneously the black man and the Yankee fan jump up and offer him their seats. In an Irish brogue he says with a smile, “Thank you, but I am getting off on the next stop.”
Further on, as we pull into Delancey Street, the doors open and a Mexican Mariachi band walks into our car and begin to play their sad song. (I think they are sad most of those songs seem like they are). One of them walks with his hat upside down in his hand while singing along with his bandmates. Coins and some dollar bills are dropped into the hat as he sings his way down the car.
“Gracias Nueva York!”
West Fourth Street and a Muslim family walks on. The man is wearing shorts and a T-shirt that says, “Hillary 2016,” while his wife is all in black with only the hint of her eyes exposed. They are with 3 children, boys, who are dressed in typical clothing. The woman sits silently while the kids all sit close together on one seat. The father is to the side of them and is reading a newspaper.
At the 14th Street station a man wearing only his underwear and squaking like a bird comes on and says “Love!” and then runs out before the doors close. It seems like he is running into each car and exclaiming different one word anthems. “Freedom,” “Dream,” “Live!”
The kids are laughing, the father tells them to be quiet and the mother is silent. Across from them the Hasidic man is laughing with the Yankee fan while the black man says, “only in New York.”
23rd Street Station and the train begins to have a transfusion – a lot of people off and a lot of people back on. A gay couple sit next to eachother holding hands as a giant of a man sits across from them staring into space. A young lady is applying her makeup in a hurry and when the train rolls into 34th Street she is done and out the door.
42nd Street and a man with a missing leg is preaching about “Jesus” and that “Its not to late to repent – to repent, to repent! But if you do not repent …the fires of hell with swallow you.”
The Hasidic man stands up and walks towards the door to be ready to leave once the train rolls into the 47-50th Street Station. The one legged man is still preaching, “Jesus will forgive you, the Jew, the Muslim, the non-believers – but first you must accept him! Repent!” No one gives him any mind or any spare change as the car empties.
Once refugees, now citizens.
Once immigrants, now proud Americans.
No obstructions should be placed around our borders to stop good people from seeking a better life. Our country was founded by refugees, immigrants and expelled members from other countries. Could you imagine who our country would be like if we all had one color, one language and one belief? How boring would that be? Like chicken soup with no flavoring. In order for our society to flourish we must add the pepper, salt and other spices to the broth. We must accept the differences and respect them.
We must keep the evil away from our borders – the ones who cannot accept freedom and live to destroy. But we must be that beacon of light in a world filled with darkness.
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!