You don’t see much graffiti in New York City anymore, at least not in midtown-Manhattan. When it does appear, it’s usually about self-glorification, a name spray-painted on a building or a bus shelter. Within a day or two it disappears, the affected area scrubbed clean.
That’s why it was surprising to come across a long-form piece of graffiti, scrawled on an abandoned phone booth kiosk, in the vicinity of 37th Street and Fifth Avenue. It appears to have been written in thick black magic marker, a stream of consciousness screed on the power and importance of love.
In a time when the primary way we express ourselves is online, usually via posts and comments on social media, this is definitely an old school approach, its audience the few passers-by who would stop and take notice.
I do not know who the author is but imagine they had a lot of thoughts going through their head—ideas that one day needed to be set free and written down for posterity. What’s radical about the message is that in a time when so many are spewing thoughts of hate and venom, this person needed to put out a manifesto that comes from the other side of the ideological spectrum.
You can see a picture of the manifesto at the top of the page, I’ve transcribed it below. I made a small edit on the final line, where I think the author may have been running out of room to complete his or her thought:
Love cares why.
Love never gives up.
Love knows no boundaries.
Love is limitless.
Love takes the time to seek understanding.
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is generous.
Love is self-less! Love is the most powerful force in all of creation that I have come across!
The universe obeys the behest of (those who) Love.
Love. Life. Light.
You might have picked up that this screed is similar to a Bible passage, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. That passage is worth repeating here. While its worded differently, its message is essentially the same:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I should also point out that on the other side of the phone booth kiosk, another message was written, apparently by the same author using the same black marker. Only instead of a white background, as seen on the picture above, the background was black, so it was a lot harder to read. I was able to pick up a few sentences that are worth repeating here:
We are all co-creators of our reality. Each of us affects the whole. First, practice goodness for the sake of goodness so that you may become a harbinger of goodwill toward the world. Do your part.
I’ve wondered who wrote these messages. I imagine they may have been the ramblings of a homeless man or woman, someone judged “off” by our society. Maybe they were from a person who lived in the neighborhood who ventured outside to write them down on a sleepless night. Either way, it’s reassuring that there are still people out there consumed not by hate, but by love.