Big Doings in the Big Apple – New York, May 2 – 10, 2009

New York is famous for its ‘buzz’. Brian Bond and I spent a week there, not sampling the lifestyle but visiting the warren of offices, centres, meeting rooms, and halls that constitute the United Nations, standing tall on the banks of the Hudson. We soon found ourselves moving on two levels, exploring how advocacy is done: watching the public processes between nations, and joining the lobbying that swirls around the corridors.

The sight of the nations of the world struggling through drafting a major statement on sustainable development is both awe-inspiring (considering the serious issues involved for us all) and heart-breaking (seeing the petty politics of alliances and oppositions being played out). But, running alongside these weighty encounters, we found a huge network of Catholic religious and people from many NGOs. They also meet, debate or discuss, plan and review, all the while monitoring what is happening in ‘the halls of power’.

We were warmly welcomed by the ‘Religious at the UN’, over fifty committed souls who work here for the poor, the disadvantaged, those distant from power, and Earth itself. In this group, I could feel the alternative version of reality that Jesus spoke of taking shape. This is the sort of ‘buzz’ the world needs: making decisions that keep the poor and Earth central, in our hearts.

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