It’s the reason for all our problems, it’s why we’re in this predicament of everyone being pissed off and shouting at one another; there’s just too much diversity. Too many different agendas and lifestyles, religions and beliefs; too many races and creeds; too many cultures and ethnicities.
How can they all be American? What gives, man?
Well, it’s because of that thing we call the American dream. The reason we believe people come here and stay here. Whether that is historically accurate is debatable, yet it is a sacred American belief. And like all beliefs, it works best in theory, for while all seek the American dream, what that American dream actually entails becomes many different things to many different people.
As is often pointed out, our history is replete with examples of people, from all over the world, coming to American, establishing roots, creating communities, and adding richness to the American landscape. That is what was both preached and taught to me as I grew up-so it’s got to be right. It’s what separates us from Europe and Asia, the subcontinent and Africa; that we are free of the knots of history and the rubric of doing the same thing the same way as they have for a thousand years. Here you can amend it, change it, invert it, or forget it altogether and do your own thing, free from the suffocation and weight of the past.
That, naturally, is how we choose to direct our focus, but our history is also knotted with anger, fear, and bigotry towards strangers with strange ideas and beliefs. And we are forever manipulated because below our self-assurances of the rock solid foundation upon which this nation was built there is that current of doubt that the firmament of today will one day liquify and leave us sinking into chaos and uncertainty.
Is the American dream wrong? Is diversity wrong? Is it too much?
Diversity is a wonderful so long as it isn’t threatening. X is a marvelous thing so long as I don’t feel compelled to adjust my life or my thinking because of it. If I do feel that pressure, if I feel put upon or oppressed, that’s a different story.
In fact, it’s the big story of the present time. From MAGA to BLM, to religious freedom and LGBTQ rights, to snowflakes and the alt-right, even back to bumpkins and city-slickers, we are at full throat agony over our diverse and crazy nation.
And the climate is perfect to either bitch or commiserate with the like minded. Websites, apps, tweets; it’s all there to keep you worked up, angry, put upon, and exhausted! It’s certainly a good time for the platforms who bring the good or bad news; monetize, monetize, monetize, even if it turns out they’re Russian bots. Whether it’s a good thing for our national psyche is another matter, and it doesn’t help that we veer from one apocalypse to another.
For depending on who you ask, in the last two years we’ve gone from the dictatorship of the illegitimate Islamic(?) black guy to the dictatorship of the crazy Christian(?) white guy, and the constant flip-flopping of our cherished beliefs about what anything even stands for anymore.
Thank God bud is finally being legalized; we all need to chill, man!
The other problem with America’s diversity problem is it’s not going away. No matter how hard we try to force people to go our way, they will, often tenaciously, cling to their own views and belief systems. We find this infuriating!
Shocking, I know, but at some point we’re going to have to reconcile ourselves to the understanding that there will always be those who are against something we believe in, for a variety of reasons, just as we will be for it for our own reasons. The American flag, as football has shown us, will mean something different to each of us because we are all different. That’s kind of the idea.
To this end it might be worth noting that the country was built on the understanding that differences can only be bridged so far, that what works for Massachusetts might not work for Alabama and that, within reason, you should be able to do your own thing in your own community. That’s still true. Oklahoma does not have to be California and vice versa.
Some beliefs, some institutions, slavery as an example, weren’t going to last. Times change; attitudes change. Even if you shuffle the Civil War with its various polemics off to the side, there is the other great civic divider; the courts and that whole Constitutional problem that works great if it rules for your side, but not so great if it rules against you. The law, like attitudes and times can do a number on you if you’re not paying attention or fighting change.
And majorities don’t have the final word because they are never absolute. There are always those who disagree or dissent. And there’s that thing again with rights and the whole American ideal about it being applicable to all of us. For some, that’s a another problem to have to deal with.
Is there an answer? Certainly not a perfect one, but nothing is perfect. Acceptance is key, but that means recognizing that which you don’t like or agree with and not let it get into your head; that’s tough to do. That we self-segregate, that we migrate to those who share our views or say what we want to hear is part of the human condition. Whether it works as a social condition has been the great argument throughout American history. The-how far can we take our tolerance or intolerance-is forever our bright line, especially when it turn violent and ugly.
America is too big and too diverse for us to be forced into being one thing, whether that one thing revolves around race or religion or political persuasion.
Plus, it would be deadly dull.
©2018 David W. Pearce