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The United States: We Are a Nation of Immigrants
Animals have breed standards. Humans do not!
Turn on the news and you will hear story after story of how diversity strengthens us as a nation.
But wait, if you leave the news on long enough, you are just as likely to hear a story of how hatred for those that are different is the root of so many mass shootings.. I can't wrap my brain around people being killed for being different. Different than what?
Where is the description of what we are supposed to look like? Is there a breed standard for being American? White? Blonde? Blue eyed? Is this what we're all suppose to look like in order to be free to live here in America?
This is a sad time in our country. We are a nation of immigrants. President Obama is quoted as saying - "if you are not a Native American, you are an immigrant". Think about those words for a moment. Our country was built on the backs of those who came from foreign lands because they believed in the freedom and opportunity available in these United States. They spoke many languages and practiced many religions. Some had money, some did not. But now, in the 21st century, human beings are once again being persecuted for the way they look or, the way they live or, for what they believe. I just don't get it.
Census Population, Immigrants per Decade
History of Immigration
Immigration to the United States began in the early 1600's with the arrival of British and . European travelers coming to American, the land of opportunity and freedom. Since then, immigrants from many continents have come to the United States to escape religious or racial persecution. The fabric of our history is woven by the skills and talents of these small groups of people who left their homeland and helped to build an America we could be proud of. Most worked hard and became significant contributors to the communities in which they lived.
The adjacent table from Wikipedia demonstrates the immigrant population during the formative years of our country.
My own 5th great grandfather was an immigrant to the United States. He arrived here by boat from Ireland along with two brothers. Who and where would I be today if he had not come to America? What would my family look like today if my ancestors had been persecuted for being poor and speaking with a different dialect?
I am certain that my 5th great grandfather arrived here speaking with a heavy Irish accent. I am also certain that he arrived with few clothes and most likely had the appearance of a pauper. He never became a man of wealth or importance but he worked hard and took care of his own. He did not impose his values on others and did not interfere in things that did not concern him. He was a good neighbor and I am proud to be descended from this man.
An Imperfect World
The world we live in is not perfect. Nothing is. I just can't understand hatred for people that are different from us. Affluence, skin color, clothing, and religious beliefs are the things that make our world colorful and rich. These things should not be the catalyst for hatred and killing. Maybe I've just led a sheltered life, albeit a simple one. I am unable to comprehend violence that takes the life of another human being. I am not totally naïve though. I can wrap my head around the violence that occurs when two people are in direct conflict or, when mental illness overtakes rational thinking. I don't agree with it but I can comprehend that it happens. But how on earth do you murder someone just because they look differently than you? Can a rational person really commit such an act? If so, this is not the world I want to live in.
What happened to this country of tolerance and acceptance of those who came here to escape persecution for race or religion? Is my America gone forever or can we bring it back?
There are many religions and cultures that I don't know much about but does my ignorance give me a license to hate them? No, it gives me a reason to ask questions and an opportunity to bridge the gap of ignorance with education. Fear is a natural response to things we don't understand but the answer is not violence. It is not hatred.
The responsibility for teaching tolerance begins in the home and should extend to every classroom and workplace in our country. Our parental responsibility is to teach children to be tolerant and accepting of those that are different. Our educational system has a responsibility to continue that education. And, our workplace has a responsibility to embrace diversity and build on its strength. Diversity has always been the strength of our nation and hatred will be its demise.
© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.