Letter From New York November 25, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

My birthday is just past; I was feted to a fair thee well by friends over my birthday weekend, starting on my birthday eve with Lionel and Pierre at Thai Market, followed by a Friday evening dinner at the fabulous Robert on the 9th floor of the Museum of Art and Design at Columbus Circle, with a stunning view up Broadway, to five hours of haunting the New York Antique Show with my friend Paul, who then took me to dinner, followed by Todd Broder taking me to brunch and so it went on and on and on and I admit I allowed myself to be smothered in all kinds of affection over the weekend, for which I was very grateful.

It is Thanksgiving morning and I am curled on the couch at the cottage with the sun pouring in while glistening off the creek; in the distance are the morning cries of the geese flocks that call the creek home.

These are moments of self-indulgence, of celebratory rejoicing, of placid enjoyment of the time, moments when one can shutter out the harsher realities of our world. This morning, as I perused the digital version of the New York Times, I stumbled upon an article that posits that we, as a human race, are getting nicer.


When I saw the headline, I raised my eyebrows. How, in the century of 9/11, could we think that the human race is getting “nicer”? But the writer makes a strong case that historically, we are. May it be so. If so, we should be grateful that there may be an evolutionary process happening with mankind that heralds a better age for all.

As I left a breakfast at Pershing Square yesterday, the man with whom I was meeting, paused on the street and commented on how lucky we were to have had a good breakfast in a good restaurant, talking about interesting things. Compared with 99.9% of the world, my life is absolutely magical, which I remind myself of as often as I can as and if we, as a human race, are becoming nicer, then indeed we must be grateful on this Thanksgiving.

It is a good thought; a powerful one that comes at a good time because when we look around we can find reason enough for despairing shakes of the head. Because we are so wired together we learn of every brutal hiccup in the process of the evolution heralded by Mr. Pinker in his book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature” and commented upon by the notable Nicholas Kristoph in his NY Times column today. The Thirty Years War, fought, at least partially, over religion, decimated much of what is now Germany while killing off a third of the population. As grim and stupid as the Iraq war has been, it has not affected that kind of mortality, at least to date.

Some of the thoughts ring true if stunning when thought. “Today’s conservatives are more liberal than yesterday’s liberals.” Yes, let us hope so.

On such a beautiful day, with soft jazz playing, sunlight bursting into the room, with promises of magnificent food in the hours ahead, with the great good company of my friends Larry and Alicia, it is a day to be both thankful and hopeful.

One of the dazzling aspects of human nature is that we as a race do change and against the darkness of our own acts have the capability to hope and to believe in a better future.

I am thankful today. I am hopeful today. May you all have grand and hopeful Thanksgivings as well…

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