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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Third Grade Diversity: A Lesson in Adult Behavior



"Diversity: the art of thinking independently together."  

--Malcolm Forbes

The most amazing strength of the United States of America is the diversity of our people. This became so evident to me the other evening as I attended my granddaughter's third grade Christmas program. The children in the program presented the audience one beautiful pose after another within the frame of the grade school stage, each scene representing diverse, distinct children working together in loving harmony.

This fact struck me like a bolt straight out of the azure lid: with caring direction and sincere, mutual cooperation, these children, numbering well over one hundred, presented a delightful work of art, an honest treasure of united spirits. With their voices, their movements, and the smiles on their sweet faces, these kids accomplished the common goal of presenting a memorable performance. And, to boot, they did it with love.

Why should these wonderful, uncommon kids soon face the cold reality of a world so judgmental and so quick to condemn all instances of nonconformity? Damn, I railed at that idea as I realized the challenges each of them would eventually face as they left the loving care provided by their school and by their classmates.

Soon, colors like white, black, brown, and yellow would become a part of their assumed identity. Soon, something known as sexual preference would enter their lives. Soon, economic differences like poverty and affluence would descend up them. Soon, differing societal expectations would force them to make decisions about cliques and friends and "who is bad or good."

I sat there and thought about it. Couldn't togetherness last forever? Why couldn't people -- ages nine to ninety-nine -- just continue to reap the love and acceptance I had just witnessed at grade school?

And, guess what? I don't really know why we adore the vast diversity of our friends as youngsters only to draw dividing lines and choose sides as wildly discerning, subjective adults. America finds its bound strength in diversity, and it continues to thrive when people from every background work together. Perhaps, we need to act more like third graders in a Christmas play.


From its conception, America has been considered the world's melting pot, a mixture of every type of culture and person. No group, no matter how long established, can rightfully call itself more “American” than another. And, the strong fusion of cultures here is so unique and so exceptional that citizens can be just as proud of their original cultural heritage as they are to be Americans. We are our best when we respect all with guarantees of freedom, equality, and liberty ... and diversity.

Freedom, respect, equality -- these are not just symbolic words in the United States. Instead, they represent our vital responsibilities to all of our "classmates," who are our American citizens for life.
America, itself, must act as a stage where intensely different cultures not only coexist peacefully, but also thrive symbiotically and create an undivided nation. 

European, African, Asian, Latin American, Native American, and Middle Eastern -- all cultures form important fabrics in the quilt of the United States of America. Why should adults dispute this and quarrel among themselves about who should possess the bounties of this nation?

Over the next 40 years we must be more open to immigration. Even more than most of our chief global rivals, the United States will be reshaped and re-energized by an increasing racial and ethnic diversity

These demographic changes will affect America's relations with the rest of the world. The United States likely will remain militarily pre-eminent, but the future United States will function as a unique "multiracial" superpower with deep familial and cultural ties to the rest of the world.

Between 2000 and 2050, the vast majority of America's net population growth will continue to come from racial minorities, particularly Asians and Hispanics, as well as a growing mixed-race population.

In 2010, Joel Kotkin, executive editor of NewGeography.com, said ...

"By the middle of the 21st century, America will have no clear 'majority' race. Today 30 percent of the U.S. population is nonwhite; in 2050 it may be nearly 50 percent. Latino and Asian populations are expected to triple. Today, because of high Latino birthrates, one in five American children under the age of 5 is Hispanic; increasingly most Hispanic growth will come from the children of those born in America."

(Joel Kotkin. "America in 2050 -- Strength in Diversity." NewGeography.com. March 16, 2010)

And, it is perfectly clear that during this holiday season, it is incumbent on all of us to extend love, like the love of the children I saw perform onstage, to everyone seeking freedom. We have the right to protest wrongdoings and inconsistencies; however, we must realize we still represent the cradle of liberty and equality to the rest of the world.

When we deny the dreamers entry to this country or when we deny equal rights to anyone because we judge this nation to be more "ours" than "theirs," we squeeze life out of diversity, the muscle of our great nation. In other words, we kill what makes us strong.

Understanding diversity is basic to humans, and we can successfully maintain this love if we, as a species, encourage diverse acceptance from childhood to the grave. No alternative exists.

"When consciousness begins to add diversity to its intensity, its value is no longer absolute and inexpressible. The felt variations in its tone are attached to the observed movement of its objects; in these objects its values are embedded. A world loaded with dramatic values may thus arise in imagination; terrible and delightful presences may chase one another across the void; life will be a kind of music made by all the senses together. Many animals probably have this kind of experience."

--George Santayana


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