This I Believe

Josiah - New Haven, Connecticut
Entered on May 30, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family, tolerance
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“Cushioning Globalization through Global Families”

My parents married in 1962—my mother a German immigrant from a Lutheran family, my father a New Yorker of Jewish descent. In Germany, my maternal grandfather—though not a Nazi himself— was an aeronautical engineer and test pilot for an aircraft firm that served the Nazi regime. My paternal grandfather was an observant Jew. Despite these differences, my parents’ relationship has thrived.

Their example influenced my brother and me.

Global integration is personal for our family. In 2004, I married a woman from New Delhi whom I’d met in Connecticut. Her family is Muslim. Months later, my brother married a woman he’d met in India; she’s Hindu.

My wife’s family had sought an arranged marriage for her, and not everyone accepted our union. Three uncles have yet to acknowledge it.

Still, most of her family embraced me. Our wedding combined Indian and Western dress, Indian food, poems by Emerson and Tagore. We had receptions in New Haven and New Delhi.

I believe that a happy consequence—and a cushion—of globalization will be more global families. Call this intimate diplomacy. Countries including the U.S. and Canada have long prospered through immigration. Further weaving together the planet’s continents and citizens should be our aim. Love and marriage—the deepest forms of trade and investment—complete the tapestry.

Particular cultures can both endure and create fruitful blends; indeed, genetic diversity has biological as well as social value. It’s certainly not new. As historian Charles Mann observes, “Few things are more sublime or characteristically human than the cross-fertilization of cultures.”

It’s four decades since the Supreme Court ruled, in Loving versus Virginia, that laws against interracial marriage were “odious to a free people.” Mr. and Mrs. Loving prevailed, and with them the cause of progress.

Loving versus Intolerance is God’s way, whatever your religion. Love redeems, and it renews.

My wife and I have a baby daughter, a U.S. citizen who joins the surging population of multiethnic, interfaith Americans. She will celebrate the Muslim holiday Eid and the Hindu festival Diwali. She will experience Christmas dinners and Passover seders. Her grandmothers speak to her in Urdu and German, as well as English. Her generation will see the flourishing of what philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah calls “rooted cosmopolitanism”—an alloy stronger than any contrived cultural purity.

There is enough hatred and terror on earth. Love is a powerful corrective, a force for freedom. I believe its advance can help bring not only people—but also peoples—together toward peace.