Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Making America Good Again: The Joys and Sorrows of Diversity

"I love mankind, it's people I can't stand.'  - Linus Van Pelt 
Face it, there are people you love, some you might hate and a whole lot in between.  Sometimes you can explain why you feel the way you do and sometimes you can't.  Sometimes your reasons are justified and sometimes they aren't.

Why is that? Is it because of something they have said or done or is it just because they are different than you? 

Beyond our common humanity, no two people are exactly alike.  This amazing diversity makes the world really interesting. Think about the enormous variety of animals and birds, flowers and plants, landscapes and seascapes, and especially the diversity of people.  We all look different and have a wealth of backgrounds, cultures and experiences.  It just blows me away. 

I enjoy asking  people about themselves, their lives and families, and like it when they ask about me.  We don't always have that opportunity, so we rely on the news, TV, social media, movies, books and what others say to get to know the people we share the planet with.  It's fun, enlightening and enriches all our lives.  

This same diversity that brings us great joy also brings us great challenges. 

Being self-centered as we are, we often find it difficult to relate to people who are different than we are.  We stay in our comfort zones and mostly interact with folks who are similar to us in some way - those who look like us, enjoy what we do, and share our view of the world. 

Unfortunately, when we get in our little homogenous groups we often think we are better than everybody else.  Or we think we are being wronged or mistreated by everybody else.  Remember high school?  The pattern continues into adulthood, but it has taken on dangerous proportions.  

When I watch the news, I see an America full of distrust, hatred and violence.  Why?  Some people feel like they are victims.  Others feel falsely accused of being the victimizers. Sometimes it seems to me we are intentionally being pitted against each other.  How many times has a lie been told and then sensationalized by the media.  By the time the truth comes out, hate and distrust have already taken root.  Is this the America you know?

How do you on a day-to-day basis interact with the people around you? Do you love mankind, but can't stand people?  Which ones?  Why?  Do you treat those who are different than you with respect - or do you disparage, exclude or ignore them? It’s time for each of us to examine our heart and our actions.

I am hopeful that you will find that you are a kind and caring person; that you are neither a bigot nor the victim of bigotry. You may strongly disagree with others, but you wouldn’t cause them, or even wish them, harm. I believe in my heart the divisiveness we see on the news is not real-life America.  Fight that perception in your daily life. Let's show the world that Americans are united in our diversity, and that out of many, we are one.   

The joys of diversity come when we acknowledge and appreciate our differences.  The sorrows of diversity come when we make our differences the source of divisiveness and violence. 

My general philosophy is like Aunt Eller sang in the movie Oklahoma: 

I'd like to teach you all a little sayin'

And learn the words by heart the way you should

I don't say I'm no better than anybody else,

But I'll be damned if I ain't jist as good!

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