Tony Benn finds peace and tranquility in the heart of New York, before going on the warpath against an old foe

My present-day wonder is the “quiet room” or meditation room at the UN headquarters in New York, a place of reflection and contemplation for those who work there.

This room has to cater for believers of all the world’s religions and non-believers alike. It was designed as a small white-painted room with a shaft of light shining on a block of ironstone, symbolising the decision mankind has to make between swords and ploughshares.

Visiting the room reminded me of the huge responsibility this generation has as the first to have the technology both to destroy the world and to solve its problems.

My blunder is Aldermaston, the Atomic Weapons Establishment headquarters in Berkshire. The building is not aesthetically attractive, but its true ugliness lies inside its walls. Each of the warheads made there has a destructive power far greater than the ones that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. A fraction of the cost of these weapons could dramatically increase the number of homes for people in the developing world, as well as provide food, clothing, education and health care. Wouldn’t that be a real wonder?