United Nations Connection

The Blossom Project is inspired in part by a day we spend at the United Nations . . .

One day in the pounding rain we scampered across First Avenue to visit the United Nations Plaza, as tourists do in New York. The buildings have changed little since they opened in 1952 and can seem dowdy and uninspiring compared to the glitter of Manhattan. Yet seen from another perspective, there is great dignity to it. The humble wood-and-metal chairs in the General Assembly, the functional but low-tech earpieces used for language translation, speak to simplicity, sustainability, modesty. An exhibit in the main hallway showed a photo of a young girl, a land-mine survivor, smiling for the camera in spite of her missing limb. In a display case upstairs, we saw examples of the landmines themselves, looking like green plastic toys.

Anyway, the United Nations is full of gifts of artwork on display. At the gate you have the famous handgun, with its barrel tied in a knot, a gift of Luxembourg. Or the great, startling mural called Chernobyl, a gift of Russia. The member countries donate works to the UN as a way of communicating with each other, of encouraging each other.

We liked that a lot. It must have got us thinking . . .

Before leaving the UN, we passed through a hallway where something called the Millennium Development Goals were on display. These are a set of global development targets that all 192 member states of the United Nations have vowed to achieve by 2015. We list them here and, as you will see, they are blessedly simple and obvious priorities:

Millennium Development goals

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Halt spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop a new global partnership for development.

Our UN visit was an unexpectedly moving experience. By then we had thoroughly sampled New York’s endless cultural delights and earthly pleasures. As we walked away from the UN evening was coming on and we saw the lofty streets of midtown Manhattan with new eyes. It seemed impossible that these finely-dressed people emerging from their great offices for the evening commute could inhabit the same world as children who walk barefoot all day fetching water instead of going to school.

If ever there was a blueprint for a better world, the Millennium Development Goals package is it. It seemed impossible that the Millenium Development Goals were not already achieved — for they could be accomplished so cheaply.

We kept that in mind too. Click here to go to the end of The Blossom Story.