"I am who I am because of who we all are." -Ubuntu saying
Last weekend saw a multitude of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. People of all colors and kinds came together to drink green beer, celebrate friendship and family, community and more. I’m always amazed that a Catholic holiday celebrating the Patron Saint of Ireland always gathers such a diverse and enthusiastic crowd. It is an official feast day so certainly the eating and drinking bring us together. I think people are also attracted to the convivial atmosphere, the sense that on some level, we are all a family, connected by our similarities far more than divided by our differences.
The United States is truly a melting pot of many different races and cultures brought together under the banner of one flag. There are some great things about our multicultural identity. Eating is universally enjoyed among humans and our great variety of peoples allows us to experience the foods of the world right here at home. It may sound overly simplified, but I think many cultural conflicts have been and could be solved just sharing a meal together. Likewise, the immigrants of days past and even today have brought with them knowledge and skills that add to our collective knowledge as a nation. With such diversity can also come conflict. Religious beliefs, cultural practices and world views can feel threatened by so many divergent opinions. It is a delicate balancing act of both unity and tolerance to live in a nation of so many different people.
This tells me that perhaps we just don’t have enough rituals and festivities that bring us all together. We have some events that we can all gather around but maybe we need more. So as we come into the spring months, channel some of the Ubuntu we have worked on, that sense of developing community and appreciating us all as individuals. Bring different people together, have a picnic with neighbors, share a meal with a coworker you want to get to know better. Talk to your kids about your culture and the cultures of others to give them an idea of how lucky we are to share in such diversity. Attend a Chinese New Year celebration or gather friends to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Develop your own rituals for stirring the melting pot that is our great nation.