Friday, January 15, 2010

Learning from a Goose -- Beyond Racial Boundaries (repost)

When I mindlessly perused the news a few weeks ago, one story particularly caught my eye: A goose in Hereford, Texas, is perfectly comfortable hanging around with a herd of goats. As peculiar and seemingly insignificant as this bit of news might appear, it is powerful enough to remind us of some of our shortcomings. As members of the human race, we still struggle with the challenges of living with one another, and although racial tensions have superficially eased since the black and white communities have integrated, a lot of people still simmer with lack of acceptance under their differently colored skin.

A lot of civil rights leaders have worked very hard in trying to mend the differences, but in many cases they have done more damage than good. People have felt pushed into a corner, obligated to give up treasured traditions in favor of exotic beliefs, celebrations or fashion fads, and that has created a widespread sense of resentment. Feeling powerless in the face of losing their own heritage and identity, many have responded with anger and hatred. With great intentions in their hearts, civil rights leaders have responded by feeding the flame of outrage already burning on the other side, and by pointing out the differences that separate the cultures.

In an era of politically correct talk and affirmative action, it is very common to hear labels chosen by the very same people who feel singled out. The black community still refers to itself as African-American, the Hispanic community as Hispanic-American, and the Asian community as Asian-American. Something is wrong with that picture: by labeling the cultures we promote separateness. Americans are Americans, regardless of their heritage. My children were born in America and call themselves American, even if their heritage is entirely Italian and British. Maybe, if the politically correct way of labeling people applies to the whole, they should call themselves Italian-British-Americans. If we truly look at the origin of things, then the only true Americans are the native Indians; the rest of us are just imports, no matter when our boats approached the shores of our beautiful country.

Racial acceptance and peaceful co-habitation have to begin within ourselves. If we feel that we can contribute something to society and to each other through the beauty of our individual qualities, then we can move forward and build a new foundation for our children’s future. There is beauty within every culture, and good that can be found within the heart of every person, regardless of race, creed or financial status. As intelligent and reasonable human beings, we need to start with ourselves and lead by example. We preach that the best way to teach our children is by praising their efforts and focusing on their good qualities, yet adults have no problem in lashing out at one another over issues that shouldn’t even exist.

By focusing on what brings us together, rather than what sets us apart, we can open a new door to united and symbiotic living which can only positively affect the future of our nation, and set an example to the rest of the world. And when we forget how we should relate to each other, may God bless the Goose.

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