It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. ~Maya Angelou
I grew up in a homogeneous society. We were white milk for as far as the eye could see, primarily Catholic with a smattering of Protestants who, I was assured, were all hell bound heathens. As far as I could travel by foot or bike, we were white. No Asians. No Blacks. No Jews. No Moslems. No Buddhists. All my friends were white. All my friends parent’s were white. And we were all born in the US within relative close proximity to the place we lived. We were a community completely without diversity. This homogeneousness followed me all the way through HS graduation.
Back then, I thought nothing about this complete and total lack of diversity. It was normal for me. It was life for me. And I never saw a need to be anything other than white, middle class, Midwest Surburban. I never saw a need to experience different cultures or waste my time traveling to different countries.
I drifted into these thoughts while driving home from a party with my born in another country girlfriend.
The party I attended was a going away event for an Italian with primary residence in Switzerland who speaks English with an English accent and who also speaks a half dozen other languages fluently. The party was hosted by a couple one of whom was born in Poland and the other in France. Among the guests were people born in Switzerland, Germany, the Basque part of Spain, Turkey, and the Philippines. Of all the guests, just three of us had parents that were born in the US. Everyone brought an ethnic food and, I think, everyone brought along a bottle or two of wine. The wine flowed freely.
Our conversations touched on travel to foreign lands and ethnic foods. We all shared stories of the countries we had visited and listened with rapt attention to the adventures of others as we were regaled with tales of the exotic locals they had visited. I added a few countries to my bucket list by the time the evening came to a close. There was singing in English and Spanish and Italian and German. And there was the universal language of laughter and smiling.
Driving home, I drifted into these thoughts and was saddened that the first part of my life was lived, essentially, in isolation from the kaleidescope of people inhabiting the Earth, in isolation from the vast array of people that add spice to life. I was also happy knowing the latter part of my life has been blessed with visits to a number of foreign lands, with many more countries planned, and that I count amongst my friends people born in all the four corners of the globe.