Dear This I Believe,
I believe in celebrating heritage. I think it is important to know who we are, where we came from, and to respect all others. I dream, however, of a day when we do not look at a playing field, a band performance, or other such venue like taxonomic calculators.
A hall of fame baseball player spoke of his concern over the falling number of his ethnicity in Major League Baseball. His warning included a forecast for lost fan base should the trend continue, the implication being why would people of color support entertainment of which they are not players. I understand and applaud initiatives that overturn unfair bias. I do not understand a mentality that precludes enjoyment and support based on similar bias, however. I find this human trait to be divisional and counterproductive.
I love the artistry and precision of high level basketball. Should my interest be receding? Like the baseball player, I believe many in my sociology take exception to our participatory decline. I will not follow. I will continue to go, I will continue to support, and I will continue to enjoy. I may not be able to jump, but I can appreciate those that can just the same. Art is art, skill is skill, and entertainment for me is colorblind.
If I allow my enjoyment as audience to be qualified by how many performers look and act just like me, I would never go to the opera. I might never visit the symphony, appreciate the theater, or clap for a Russian gymnast. Believing in, supporting, and celebrating diversity means just that. I refuse to be offended when an accent is different than mine. I am not threatened when the person across from me has different skin tone, facial features, or dietary preference.
We live in a small community next to Fort Carson Army Post in Colorado. The army is multi-cultural by nature, and its influence in my neighborhood is unmistakable. My children walk to school with children of all races, creeds, and colors. Not once have they reported to me how many of this, or how many of that are part of their group, and I believe in that untainted view.
I think it is natural to find comfort and security in like things, but taken too far, this phenomenon can produce unhealthy results. I read a headline after the horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech University. It said South Koreans fear retribution because the gunman was one of them. This mentality is mind-boggling. Blaming South Koreans and seeking retribution from them for what happened in Blacksburg is beyond my comprehension. South Koreans as a race are no more responsible than any other. We are all part of the human race.
My heritage is a wonderful and important distinction in certain situations, but not all. When it comes to celebrating and supporting our planet as a whole, I prefer paying more attention to the forest, and less to individual trees.
This I believe.
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