As Mayor Bloomberg begins to end his reign as leader of this great city, everyone has been talking about the gifts and the messes that we, New Yorkers, are left with as a result of his mayorship. Since I’m not a major follower of politics, I can’t really participate in these discussions. But one thing I do know is that he has left the city much more beautiful than when he received it. From the High Line to the Hudson River boardwalk to the sculptures that have popped up over the decade, there’s no question that the city has become a more colorful, and lovely place.
Beyond the great view, though, this legacy of his has resulted in profound benefit to our society. To see beauty around us not only brightens our day but, more importantly it inspires us. For my children to see beauty around them gets them thinking, imagining, and, ultimately, believing that they too can make something beautiful. And this is especially true for many of our underprivileged neighbors in NYC. My children have been born into privilege. And this means that they take for granted that no matter what they want to pursue, they will get the emotional and financial resources to make it happen. But for children who don’t necessarily have the backing of their family or school, seeing solid examples of beauty can both inspire and remind them that they too may be able to make their creative dreams come true.
I’m not naive enough to believe that kids with fewer resources will have it easy. In fact, as this beautiful and heartbreaking Guardian article by Chris Arnade shows, so many creative poor children give up. But being exposed to beauty, at the very least, sparks their imagination and gives them the hope that maybe, just maybe they can turn their ideas into reality.