Sunday, February 17, 2008

Making Friends

I went to dinner last night at the house of some people from church. They were really nice and I had a quietly nice time, but I felt really really young compared to them. =) I am glad I went. On the other hand, thinking about some of the conversation, I do get somewhat frustrated with people who say that people who come to this country should assimilate into our culture and then within the same sentence talk about the "melting pot" that the US is. A melting pot would presumably melt ALL cultures together, not just white European culture. A minority society that holds on to its traditions and values is not anti-American, but generally simply trying to hang on to its roots. Roots are stabilizing, whether you are talking about plants or people, and denying someone the right to hang on to their roots is not only unfair but also makes a mockery of many of the principles this country was founded on. I do understand the desire and even the need for a common language here, but attempting to eliminate the differences in culture will only be counterproductive in the long run by causing even more resentment and hatred. One of the things I heard last night was that the differences in this country encourage division and that the only way to eliminate the problems is for everyone to become part of "American" culture. But American culture, as much as we would like to deny it, is mainly centered on white, Northern European culture. So the "melting pot" that we take such pride in is not so much a melting pot as a smelter - a device that uses intense heat to burn away impurities in metal. We would like anyone who does not have the same cultural background or is more than just a little different to get rid of that which makes them different and become "pure" American. I am not sure if or when this xenophobic trend will stop, probably never, and the sad things is that it is completely cyclical. The more problems we have, economic or otherwise, the more we will blame others, and the people in our society that will be blamed first will be those who are the most different, and the lowest on the socioeconomic ladder. The more we blame them, the more xenophobic we become and the worse those people will be treated. I do not have a solution to this problem, except to point out that as Christians, we are told to be compassionate to all, no matter who we are.

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