Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dropping the Ball

By all accounts, it was a festive time in New York’s Times Square last night. People from all over the world were standing shoulder to shoulder to celebrate the coming of the new year. Nothing bad happened. The police was quite up to the task. The weather was as warm as it’s ever been at this time of year.

Despite other New Year’s celebrations in major cities around the globe, this one is the big one. If time were to suddenly stop just before midnight - even after Paris, Delhi, and Christ Church had already slipped over - we would see ourselves as stuck in the old year forever.

In fact, New York represents the world in a nutshell - an amalgam of people of every persuasion existing side by side like odd sticks of furniture in a comfortable room. When something gets upset in this room, all people come together and grieve. That’s why the ruins of the World Trade towers have been among the most visited sites in this city - more popular than Angkor Watt.

By all accounts, yesterday’s Times Square New Year’s celebration was a huge success. By global standards New York’s New Years Eve countdown is a relatively modest affair. There are no huge fireworks displays; no god-like rulers making pronouncements. Instead, second or third-rate actors are given a stage to shine. This is the people’s party. They often come from far away just for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of having been a part of it. It’s bigger than Stonehenge.

Last night, the people attending were happy to have made it through yet another year - even with the obvious shift of political power and money to the nation’s (unindicted) capital well underway; even with the slight irony of all the world’s eyes watching America drop the ball.

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