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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Union of Diversity Vs. The Fracture of Community

“We have to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities.”
-Hillary Clinton

The strength of America depends upon the diversity of its people. The nation was built by a diverse population as a home for those seeking freedom and personal liberty, and it continues to thrive because of the distinctive heterogeneity that comprises the multi-textured fabric of the union.
The strength, resilience, and richness of the United States of America are derived from the diversity of its citizens. Diversity creates an organization that is enriched with people from different cultures and that have different experiences, lifestyles, backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas. For this reason, the country is known as a "melting pot" of humanity. All races, ethnicities, religions and creeds found in America "melt" together to become stronger than any one ingredient alone.
Although Lady Liberty, facing Atlantic homelands, traditionally held the light of hope for immigrants from Europe, she symbolizes a land promising that light for every immigrant from every corner of the earth. Through author Emma Lazarus, the Lady speaks to all:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

And these diverse people do still come to America. Each of them adds their unique backgrounds and talents to the country where they are guaranteed equal worth and where they are entitled to the same privileges and opportunities regardless of their age, national origin, disability, gender, or race.
Common beliefs in justice, freedom, and liberty for all hold this diverse melting pot together. Perhaps the U.S. Army best conveys this message when they describe their dependence on strength in diversity:

"We take young men and women from all backgrounds, some who come several generations of Americans and some who are first generation Americans, and turn them into a force with a common focus, the defense of our great way of life. We understand better than most that success has nothing to do with the color of your skin, where you were born, or the type of religion to which you belong. In fact, we know there is only one color of importance to the Soldier and that is Army green. And, we know that it is what you achieve that matters."

(www.Army.Mil, "The Official Homepage of the U.S. Army")

No wonder the U.S. Armed Services are the most formidable forces in the world. The services are environments where every member is valued and challenged to achieve their potential while executing their duties and their mission. Soldier to soldier, they work together to perform the tasks at hand.
If we truly believe that diversity represents the strength and hope for our communities and our country, we must better school ourselves in methods to work cooperatively in order to move forward. Instead of automatically rejecting the views of those from different backgrounds and mindsets, we need to open our minds to others and find points of agreement upon which to build new frameworks that uphold the principles set forth in our Constitution.
When we are taught the Preamble, we feel pride and confidence when we read these words:
We the people of the United States, to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Today, perhaps it is appropriate to apply these words to diversity. Maybe we should think just a little more about the semantics of the famous declaration. “We” are all the “people” of this great democracy, every last one of us. That alone binds us with the obligation to work for the common good and to recognize the rights of everyone. The Preamble does not say I “ordain and establish this Constitution.” It does not say that I interpret its meaning for my interests.
The Preamble clearly states its intention of establishing a government of the people to form “a more perfect union.” That phrase acknowledges the fact that no union is perfect, but it also establishes the goal of a government in the hands of the people. So, the goal of all people is to strive to perfect the union in all its vast diversity, disagreement, and contention. To be an American is to take the pledge of establishing harmony, not discord.
And how does the Preamble delineate the tools of the people for establishing union and harmony?
(1) “Justice”
The emphasis is upon social justice. A socially just society is based on the principles of equality and solidarity. It understands and values human rights and recognizes the dignity of every human being.

(2) “Domestic Tranquility”
Domestic comes from the Latin word domus meaning “house or home.” Of course, American society works best when there is peace in the homes of all our citizens, not just some. When people do not fear for their lives, their property, their jobs or their rights, they are free to live and pursue their happiness. But domestic tranquility does not come easily, perhaps least of all in a country a diverse as ours.
Therefore, to build union, the people need to work and live with those who had been traditional adversaries, overcoming differences and achieving understanding in the process. All people, and especially the protectors of peace such as the police forces and the National Guard, need to establish sensible, understanding toleration.
(3)Common Defense” and “General Welfare”

The government of the people must be willing to promote the state of well being, happiness, and prosperity for the whole. They must act in common (all together) to repel invasion and encourage free trade. The people have the Constitutional right to assemble, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to remain secure against unreasonable search and seizure. They must defend these rights.

(4) “Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity”
Liberty is a concept in political philosophy that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions. Some of the blessings of liberty include the freedom of religion, the right to own , the right to own property, and the right to travel freely within and between states.
We must work as a people to secure these “blessings” for ourselves and for our future generations. And, we must do so in a manner that doesn't infringe upon the liberty of others.
A Huge Request
The Founding Fathers set a specific, difficult course for the people of our country. Staying on course requires U.S. citizens to come together to face the never-ending changes of a modern world. The people must sacrifice and compromise to achieve progress. The present scourge of divisive politics and intolerant behavior tears at the fabric of our nation.

In a nation so blessed with diversity, we must better employ this diversity to strengthen our common goals, not divide us because of petty fears over “different” ideas and “different” people. I believe we possess the will to end partisanship that leads to stalemates and frustration. The key is to consider the “give and take” cultural growth that has made our country so strong in its acceptance of the liberty of the individual and the reliance upon each person to work towards forming a more perfect union.
The civil war of “we” against “them” needs to cease. “We” are not separate entities. “We” are all Americans unified as a nation in a lovely, colorful diversity. “We” can't always get our way, but “we” can work with all of “them” to achieve the best for “us.” Why? “We” are really ALL THE PEOPLE -- the voices and minds of diversity.

Stop dividing my country.
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