Lou Dobbs stated the obvious on CNN: “I’m not a guy who’s too keen on Americans celebrating their differences.”
That is a sad statement that becomes troubling because he’s not the only person with that attitude. He does qualify his statement by explaining that he prefers emphasis on commonalities rather than differences. Although I too feel that commonalities are what bring us together, common values such as respect and compassion, recognizing and appreciating difference in ourselves and others is what will bring us to the commonalities.
Difference brings color to our world — even the grains of sand on the beach have difference in size, shape, color. The shades of green in a forest cannot be reproduced on a palette. I could go on but you see what I am getting at, I hope. There is more diversity in our world than we can comprehend. That is what gives it beauty as well as strength.
Does Lou really not want difference and diversity or does he just not want us to celebrate it? Does he not want Hispanics in our country or does he just want them to be “white like me.” What about the Native Americans? What about the immigrants? What about the African-Americans? What about Asians and Islanders and all others who make us strong? It is the diversity that gives us richness. It is difference that makes us reach out to others and try to understand all peoples, all cultures because understanding makes us more compassionate and gives tremendous strength.
Celebrating difference makes us aware of others, helps us reach beyond ourselves, connects us to our neighbors. That connectedness is what gives strength and protection in our communities. With connectedness we will help more often than we hurt. Remember Lou, help goes both ways. It doesn’t always mean that you are the only one giving, which is what I think people are afraid of (“everyone is always trying to freeload off me/us”). It means that you will be on the receiving end at times.
Remember on September 11th when the entire world flooded the United States with compassion and support? Remember when Katrina hit New Orleans how the world came to help? Those were big, national events. We have the same kinds of things, however, on a local and even personal level. If you fall, will you only accept help from someone who is just like you? If you stumble, will you not appreciate a catching and steadying hand from the nearest person regardless of their nationality, color or economic status? Would you do the same?