One of the reasons I love New York City is that regardless of how much money flows through its canyons or how many Jimmy Choo heeled socialites scamper for a reservation at Per Se, there is a constant underlying grittiness that cannot be ignored. You can't live in New York and not be humbled by poverty, homelessness, mental anguish, and the implications of sexual and psychological exploitation. New York City, for all of its glitterata and pretentious culture, is a constant war zone of failed dreams and their bitter consequences.
We, as a nation, seem to feel entitled to live in communities that are so hermetically sealed it becomes easy to ignore the suffering and pain that is the reality of so many of the earth's inhabitants. We should not desire to live in such luxury. To crave the well-manicured lawns and sidewalks of the "All-American" suburb is to willfully erase the suffering of billions of people. It is apathy personified.
New York reminds me to be humble, it reminds me to be thankful for what I have, it challenges me to fight for social and economic justice for all. New York City is that constant whisper that encourages me to remain compassionate and empathetic.