Due to my lousy use of the map and abysmal sense of direction, Matt and I took a very circuitous route from our hotel to the first session at Yale on Monday. Discovering, in the process, two quite distinct New Havens.
Most of our walk was through a very bleak inner city scene, much like what I’ve seen in inner-city DC, and Philly, and other places. A place where aimlessness and hopelessness seems almost palatable, and people kind of troll around on the sidewalks, heading nowhere in particular. As we continued, we found little sections that seemed to defy comparison. Until we thought hard and ignored the chill on our faces to realize that they were reminiscent of even more spartan second- and third-world scenes we’d seen in more temperate climates. Empty businesses, imposing factories with only memories inside, local outlets of charity with no one around. Places where, it seemed, no one wants to live.
And then, as we crossed a single street, we stepped into a picturesqely perfect Ivy League nirvana. Manicured lawns, bookstores, parkspace, and brilliant people striding purposefully toward a bright future. The eighty-year old science building looked like a church (complete with 10-foot doors, arches, carved stone and iconography). Everywhere we looked we saw stone and pillars, permanence and hope, money and destiny.
I’m not saying that anything was wrong with this, necessarily. I’m not saying that one side of the street owes anything to the other side, or that one side is better, or that the Government needs to do something about this, or that God should fix it or smite someone, or anything else. I’m just saying it was striking.