"I can still remember how
this all began ... on that September afternoon when I stepped
into Sharon Goldman's office. To her then, I must have been another
random 15-year old teenager -- with a quiet demeanor, a bit inconspicuous,
nerdy even -- who was interested in a teen environmental group
at the 92nd Street Y. Or so she thought.
Fast forward to 2001 and I still haven't taken over the world,
but something did happen to exceed Sharon's and my expectations.
I met an incredible human being, Angela, a real funky eclectic
group of NYC teenagers, and managed to fly across the country
to share my little oasis of greenery with the people of the West
Coast. It's quite a list of events in a short period of time,
and I'm still processing how I feel about them.
Especially in the past three weeks of uncertainty, I've acknowledged
a truth that I would have once happily ignored. We are living
in troubled times. Trouble times, not only because humans have
always threatened their living space, but because humans are
not destroying the living space of others. Trouble times, especially,
in having to explain to ourselves why and how this could happen.
So we ask ourselves: why can't we achieve a utopia, why isn't
there a positive outcome of human ability? I think both possibilities
existed before September. The architect, in a moment of human
ingenuity, created the uprising lines of a city. In response,
the urban environmentalist returned to the horizontal lines of
the earth. Today, the utopia of human capacity is still strong.
We still have the ability to shape our living space. Our purpose
remains the same. We must build and restore that which has been
Unfortunately, this nadir of human achievement has exposed two
extremes in our society. One side of the cradle has released
the new cynic. There is at least one of you among us tonight,
and I give you my due respect because you are absolutely correct:
there is no excuse for the misuse of human choice. The other
side of the cradle has released the ultra idealist. We find that
person waving an American flag, trying to find a unity that otherwise
It is my belief that both types of people have more in common
than they realize. The cynic would not feel disappointment without
the byproduct of idealism; the idealist is in need of a pragmatic
touch. Now is the time is unite and expand the matrix of human
support. It is the time to grow stronger, not weaker. Repopulate
the garden with philosophers, creators, skeptics. Rebuild.
Most importantly, let the joy of human capacity triumph again.
-- DELAND CHAN