While sitting in the doctor’s office the other day I picked up a copy of “Parents” magazine. Not only does it have excellent articles with terrific parenting advice but I couldn’t help noticing the diversity of the people both children and adults in every single picture in the magazine.
The ads, the photos accompanying each article, everywhere you turned a page, there was a different ethnic group represented: Blacks, Asian, Latino, and Anglo. I thought, yes, that is really what our society looks like. We are a huge melting pot of nationalities, races, cultures, ethnicities, likes and dislikes.
What a beautiful, pluralistic, multicultural country we live in. Think of what we could accomplish if as an entire nation we totally welcomed, fully accepted, and genuinely embraced the diversity of the people that we are? Think of the variety of artists, writers, actors, musicians, poets, and other creative, thinking people we have in this country? They are a mix of races all of them; a fusion of endless genealogies and heritages. Each one of them, beautiful in their own way. If only we could see how we all belong to one another. If only we would realize how much we can learn from one another’s differences.
What is it that makes us hate each other? We don’t have to like everything about all of the different groups of people in America. But why can’t we at least try to be open- minded? Why can’t we get beyond our fears of difference and give assent to our common humanity?
Our prejudices always reveal an unwillingness to grow. Our need to discriminate, to measure others by our biases, to withhold a basic reverence for all human beings, are signs of ignorance—not lack of education necessarily—but rather moral illiteracy, refusing to expand not just our minds but our hearts and souls to include all people in a wide circle of acceptance and reverence for life.
The wise and brilliant British novelist and writer, Doris Lessing, has tackled narrow-mindedness and small thinking in her books. She has spoken of “educating your own judgments,” and if each of us in this country did that what a better society we would have.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of living in a nation where his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” is a dream still unfulfilled. Still. After all these years.
People speak of patriotism in this country. Fulfilling Dr. King’s dream would actually be the work of patriotic citizens. The religious community, especially Christians, speak of doing God’s will, of having a righteous nation. Fulfilling all of Dr. King’s dream should be a primary focus of Christians and of all religious people who take their faith seriously.
Dr. King’s dream is a dream all of us as Americans ought to strive to make come true.
Equality, fairness, justice, comes from a sense of human moral dignity. It comes from clear thinking and a generous heart. It is the result of owning and accepting our vast diversity and our common likenesses. We owe that to one another in this country. To all of us, whatever our race, religion, lack of religion, sexual orientation, or social class.
We have no promising future as a country without it. But by giving human dignity, equality and justice to all people, well, then our future has unlimited possibilities.
© 2012 Timothy Moody