Tag: peace

How NOT to Tour the UN Building: Tripping through New York City Part Three

Many cities tempt the historian or patriot or citizen within you. New York City is an international destination which invites residents of the world to peek inside the headquarters of the United Nations.

As you approach the complex, the semi-circle of diverse flags flap and sway in the constant stream of cabs, commercial and private vehicles and dignitary transports sporting a single flag.

How many countries can you identify by their flags (without the help of an outside source)? My own knowledge was tested and fell short.

Touring the UN Headquarters requires a ticket. Tickets are available online ($20 plus a $4 processing fee).

Most people assume purchasing tickets in advance simplifies the process. One less line to wait in at the point of interest. Right?

Wrong.

And in the spirit of bureaucratic failure everywhere, the United Nations makes purchasing tickets simple but understanding the process for admission complex.

Our Non-tour

Mr. Native NewYorker planned a complex itinerary for our five-day visit to the city (and we were beyond thankful he did this). He purchased tickets online and in advance for the Empire State Building and the UN Building. In fact these were the ONLY tickets he purchased in advance.

The Empire State tour went off without a problem. The UN? Anything associated with the government should have been suspect, I guess.

Unique tiling make sweltering on the various subway platforms bearable

The morning of our scheduled and pre-paid tour, we rode the subway to a station a few blocks away. Our guide works in a building not far from the world peace organization, so he showed us his office and introduced us to his co-workers. When we finished that, we had more than an hour until our tour time and were only a few blocks away.

No problem. There are plenty of things to see in New York City.

The walk toward the UN Headquarters takes you past several embassies and a number of international hotels. Cars flying foreign flags and black SUV’s with even blacker windows swept past on the street.

A guarded entrance at one end is clearly marked for delegates. The passes we had told us the cross street where we could find our entrance, which was also guarded. We hadn’t expected less.

As we walked, we quizzed each other about the different flags. Some we knew easily. Several we speculated about. Mostly we felt under-educated about these symbolic representations of diverse cultures who understood the importance of working together in our ever-shrinking global community.

That’s when a group of tourists rushed away from the marked visitor’s entrance.

As we speculated about our own passes, a man crossed the street and informed us, “You have to get actual tickets from the office over there.” He pointed to a nondescript brick building with large blue signs screwed to a few of its walls. “Only one of your group has to check in.”

Ah, check-in. No problem. We still had nearly twenty minutes until our tour time.

Except the line wrapped around the block. And a person about twenty individuals back had a 10:15 tour time and had been standing in line since that time.

A sign we had to search out said people who purchased tickets and had assigned tour times should move to the head of the line. Except…the number of people who fit this bill stretched nearly to the corner.

In the fifteen minutes we searched for a way to make our tour appointment, exactly TWO people emerged from the building with tickets in hand (and ID bracelets for all members of their groups). If the line moved, I didn’t notice.

And the guard at the door was both unsympathetic and unwavering.

Our prepaid tickets might have funded his paycheck, but he wasn’t moved by our plight.

Advice for the UN Website Designers

Our native guide was furious, but that didn’t stop him from wadding up the worthless paper our non-tickets were printed on and dropping them into the nearest trash can.

Nor did it get us inside the United Nations Headquarters.

We have a little advice for whoever decided to join the digital age and pre-sell “tickets” for this tourist stop.

  1. If you sell vouchers for actual tickets, this should be clearly stated on the non-tickets
  2. Important information, such as arriving an hour before your tour time and the process for redeeming vouchers for tickets should be in bold print at the top of the vouchers
  3. An address and a name for the office where you need to report should be included (rather than the vague cross-streets and “across from the entrance” verbiage used on our worthless non-tickets)
  4. Lines for redeeming vouchers should be clearly marked at the ticketing office
  5. In fact, an external booth clearly marked “Redeem your tour vouchers here” would be expedient (and yes, you can take pictures there and tie it into criminal databases; even Disneyland uses cameras at their entrance now)
  6. A helpful person should man the doorway

Seriously, the world is a disappointing place. The UN is a symbol of hope. Attempting to tour it should not provoke native New Yorkers toward violence.

An iPhone camera is NOT equipped for the scope of the UN flags

These small steps would smooth the process and alleviate the influx of frustrated people who paid money to support world peace only to be shoved toward an emotional outburst that could lead to something quite contrary.

This Doesn’t Have to Happen to You

It isn’t impossible to find the office – IF you know you need to look for it.

The most frustrating part for us was that we were early enough to have made our tour. We bought coffee and traversed the opposite side of the street on the end away from the entrance looking for the perfect photo spot to get a shot of as many flags as possible.

Then we went to find the entrance. And learned the passes we had paid for didn’t admit us.

And the line we needed to stand in moved slower than sleeping slugs and included people with tour reservations for 45 minutes earlier than ours (and they wouldn’t be able to go back in time to make that appointment).

Things you need to know if you want to tour the UN:

  • Read the fine print
  • Arrive an hour early (this is in the fine print)
  • Have identification and your tickets ready
  • Find the not-so-clearly-marked Visitor’s Information Center (it’s across the street from the Visitor’s entrance but is in a plain and not well-marked office).
  • Plan to stand in line to get “actual” tickets for your scheduled tour time

Everyone deserves to see the headquarters of this organization with a mission for world peace.

Have you been to the UN Headquarters? What was the best part of the tour? Share your recommendations in the comments.

Wonder Woman Makes it to the Big Time

Wonder Woman isn’t just for comic books anymore. And no matter what the UN says about it, this female superhero is making it to the big screen where she will be the ambassador for empowerment of women everywhere.

Sure, the United Nations can name cartoon characters as honorary ambassadors, but bringing a bustier-wearing woman to the stage sends the wrong message.

The U.N. recanted, bowing to protesters, but this won’t stop Wonder Woman from stepping from print to silver screen. She has been a suffragist, a sex symbol and a soldier since she first appeared in 1941, conceived by William Moulton Marston. Now, she’s going to be a movie star.

wwmaksitbig

Gal Gadot played Wonder Woman in Batman v. Superman and will carry off the role in her own film in June 2017. Godot is both a model and a soldier, 2004 Miss Israel who served in the Israel Defense Forces, as all Israeli’s are compelled to do.

Why can’t a woman be smart, strong and sexy? And if she isn’t covering up her physical assets, is that begging for objectification?

Plenty of male superheroes are flaunting their physical assets without anyone screaming about demeaning men. Why is there a different standard for our gal, Wonder Woman?

She was created as a hero to represent America’s position in World War Two: a patriot who wanted to protect the innocent. The original Wonder Woman had defensive weapons—bracelets that deflected bullets and the Lasso of Truth.

Isn’t that the kind of superhero we all should want? Not one who’s out to wreak havoc but is bent on keeping people safe.

Now Wonder Woman will get to tell her story to the world. The film won’t follow the comic book canon of the Amazonian princess.

Instead, the story takes place during World War I. When Steve inadvertently leads men to the Amazon’s island paradise, the women warriors face down guns with arrows.

They keep Wonder Woman true to her creator’s vision by making her more interested in peace than conflict. But, as history has proved time and again, sometimes the reality of peace comes at the high cost of war.

This writer is enthusiastic about seeing a female superhero take the tile role in a comic-book-inspired movie.

Sure, we can argue about clothing choices, but as Gadot was quick to point out in interviews, at least the outfit doesn’t hinder her movements. And it doesn’t expect her to run and fight wearing four-inch heels.

Isn’t it time we looked beyond the costume? What’s in the heart of a character? Is she wearing these clothes to distract her foes?

It’s more likely she pulled them on and forgot about them. That’s what I do. I’m not walking through my day thinking about how I look.

Real women have more important things on their minds.

And if this movie trailer is any indication, Wonder Woman doesn’t have any spare moments for thinking about how her body armor makes her appear too sexy to fight.

Do you think the costume makes (or breaks) the credibility of a superhero? Are you excited for Wonder Woman’s debut in her own motion picture?

Surrendering Fear

It’s a new year with a new focus, but the old fear hovers nearby.

What’s with that anyway?

I mean, I’m determined to trust in God and let love banish fear and then…wham, something unexpected ties me in emotional knots.

Could it be that I’ve lost my focus so quickly?

Or maybe I haven’t truly opened my hands in surrender.

After all, this is spiritual warfare. And it a war, there’s struggle and death and fear galore. Until one side says “enough” and seeks peace.

psalm-27-3

Here’s some wise words from life coach Holley Gerth:

I tried to control everything so that I could get a specific outcome. Tests and temperatures, appointments and articles. I held on as tightly to my goal as I did to the one-lined pregnancy tests at the end of every month.

Then slowly, slowly I felt like God brought me to a point where I finally said, “Whatever.” Not “Whatever” (with the sarcastic tone and eye roll—although some days I did indeed want to say that). But “Whatever, Lord. I am surrendering my expectations. I’m surrendering what I’ve been demanding.” I waved the white flag and I let trust win.

People would ask, “How do you feel about your infertility?” And I would say, “I have a peace about it.” And they would look at me like, “Yeah, yeah, Sunday School answer.”

And I said, “No, it’s the kind of peace that comes after war. And I fought for it. I will surrender everything else but not that peace.”

It was that peace that replaced my fear, that set me free.

To read the rest of her post, click here.

So, are you still trying to defeat fear on your own terms?

Did something ugly sneak up on you and wrap your peace in chains?

You can be free from fear. It begins by surrendering to the Commander in Chief of the universe.

Remember, he’s the one that has mad lion taming skills. His is the heel that crushed the head of our enemy.

Let go of the anguish caused by fear. Wave the white flag. Let the peace that passes all understanding flood your heart instead.

What’s making you afraid today? Can you surrender it to the Prince of Peace?

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Finding Joy in Simple Things

Today’s challenge is to answer the question “what brings you joy?” It’s quite an undertaking since I have heard entire sermons on the subject. I spent one three-month term teaching my Sunday school class all about it from the Book of Philippians.

You don’t have to be an aeronautical engineer to conclude explaining what brings me joy could fill a book. No one has time for that today. Let’s see if I can do it in under 500 words.

Define It

Joy tends to be an ambiguous term. Some people use it interchangeably with happiness (but not me). Even Merriam-Webster has four separate definitions.

For the purpose of this post, I will use this definition from the aforementioned dictionary guru: “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”

I still find this to be a shallow interpretation for something Jesus promised to make full within us. Joy for me is the knowledge that I am in the right place doing exactly what God wants me to do at that moment. Further, I’m basking in His glory rather than my own.

My joy comes from:

  • Holding my husband’s hand
  • Finishing my writing goals for the day
  • An early morning sunrise
  • Watching the ocean swallow the sun
  • Hearing my sons give a devotional or sing a special in church
  • Positive comments about anyone in my family
  • Hot coffee in the morning
  • Walking in the fresh air and basking in sunshine
  • Discovering something new in a Bible verse I’ve known for years
  • Completing any project
  • My cat purring against my back or chest – just so I can feel the vibrations while hearing the warmth of that motor
  • Watching snow fall

It should be apparent that my joy has less to do with me and more to do with others. Not surprising really. Remember the Sunday school acronym we learned: “Joy is putting Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last. JOY.”

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

What has brought  joy into your life today?