In times of crisis, we’re urged to keep things normal – but maybe we shouldn’t
“Go about your usual business, but be vigilant,” was essentially the mayor’s message to New Yorkers after the horrific bomb-caused murder and maiming of innocents at the Boston Marathon last week. The terrible maimings, even now, don’t get the coverage they deserve, especially the long-time support needed in a time of small, dispersed or fragmented families. Help is especially needed with communities ever less communal, which does relate to small neighborhood businesses displaced by luxury high-rises, or impersonal chain stores and banks.
Now, incidentally, the splendid seven story City University headquarters building on East End Avenue where countless civic meetings were held will be replaced by a new luxury apartment high-rise. The nearby Hunter School of Social Work suffered a similar fate.
Maybe you too would vote for anyone who says, “Let the new ‘business as usual’ mean being more community-minded and protesting the extinction of ‘public gathering places.’ They are also safe havens. And may neighbors, at least, exchange smiles.”
Even more connecting would be a candidate’s promise to revive Hubert H. Humphrey’s core belief that “The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.”
“New York, the Neighborly City”? Its neighborhoods have made it a great place to live. Security experts say neighborly connections are vital in a crisis. Mental health experts say they’re vital to mental health. No man (woman or child) is an island.
And here’s to infinitely more civic involvement with, say, monthly police precinct Community Council meetings designed for citizens to share concerns and solutions with the police. Residents should urge more concern with combating the everyday dangers, which I call “crimes of traffic,” especially the most dangerous one – drivers failing to yield when turning into a crosswalk. Other civic groups also need to make safe traveling a major goal.
And how ironic that at the 22 year-old East Sixties Neighborhood Association’s annual meeting, attended by leading elected officials, its founding president, Barry Schneider, now needs a walker to get around since his leg was injured by, yup, a car’s failure to yield turning into his crosswalk. And Barry, who has served so long and admirably on Community Board 8, and always a traffic safety champion, said nothing about his traffic crime-caused injury in his talk urging greater civic involvement.
While acquiring green space is surely important, acquiring safe passage to get there would seem to take precedence. Traffic crime-incurred injuries as well as fatalities need prominent and ongoing coverage.
And maybe you’d vote for anyone who believes that New York should be noted for its safe travel and good neighborliness.
So, let it not be business as usual, on so many fronts. And maybe nobody said it better than philosopher Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
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