So here we are in the middle of the new season of presidential elections. I’m watching and I’m concerned.
In the very late 90’s I finally applied for US citizenship after 33 years of living in this country. Why I waited so long I don’t know, I think I felt the trade off between getting to vote but having to do jury duty made it worth while. I did not realize how deeply I had disenfranchised myself; how much I had allowed myself to hold a space of distance from my chosen country of residence. Finally becoming a citizen was just great. It was like taking a deep breath and sinking into the couch between good friends rather than sitting beside the party in a straight backed chair.
Then I voted. I was so excited, it was inevitable; my guy was (is) great, he was for sure going to win – that was Al Gore and you know how it ended. That happened again in 2004 so needless to say my new privilege to have my vote count has proved fruitless, so far. But I am undaunted. I will be back at the machines (I hope I can trust them) in November to vote for Barack. I would have loved to vote for Hillary but the issues are more important than the candidate and I will vote democratic.
It turns out though that Barack Obama is a superb example of the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” He is himself a man who is “Out of Many, One” and he exemplifies the exalted idea that we can not only tolerate diversity but that we can excel because of it. Barack gets it, he lives it.
It seems to me that very recently perhaps during this last heated primary race we have moved in consciousness from a climate of tolerance regarding diversity toward a climate of celebration. It is my hope that we will recognize diversity and celebrate, honor and respect its various expressions. That may be happening right now but it needs pointing out.
For example: we have no arguments with Chinese food, Italian pizza, sushi, and Matzoh balls. Perhaps the only food discriminated against is English fruitcake – I don’t get it I love fruitcake, but I think the discrimination is not because it’s English but because it’s dense and Americans like fluffy cake. We also seem to universally enjoy diverse music – African drums, Indian chanting, digeridoos and other ethnic sounds appear in all kinds of music. Protests and complaints are minimal; Sting, Carlos Santana and Robert Plant/Jimmy Page have all produced award winning “e pluribus” type music with diverse sounds creating excellent unified sounds.
Many gifts of diversity are forged together to make this country into the incredibly interesting and exciting place that we enjoy today. For example we are made from English legal precedents from as far back as the Magna Carta, Indian spiritual gems from the Ancient Vedas, Spanish music graduating from acoustic to electric guitar, French fashion style, Italian high design, African rythm and passion, Chinese work ethic, food, and fabrics and it goes on and on. All this enriches our lives. No part of our culture, society or personal lives can be seen to be untouched by the gifts of diversity that make up this US of A. But we have to remember that this all comes from people, from individuals who bring their passion, their work ethic and their resources together to make an offering to life here in America.
“E Pluribus, Unum” is a great motto, a motto that permits us as United States to re-envision and to remake ourselves as we incorporate more and more many into the one. “May you live in exciting times” is the old Chinese proverb – curse or blessing who knows but here we are, living in exciting times. If we can hold the mandate to celebrate diversity we will always live in exciting times for diversity creates change and change is exciting when celebrated rather than feared.