Time to truly melt as a state and nation

Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2009

There have been many things written about our nation as a "melting pot." But perhaps things don't always "melt" evenly. Maybe we should truly melt as a state and a nation.

The United States really is a composite of people, traditions, beliefs and genetic differences. We're all "in the pot" but not always melting equally. There were people living in what is now the United States for thousands of years before newcomers arrived. They were pushed aside, conquered and their descendants shuffled off to reservations. They became nations within our new nation, and so were recognized as such, but were not treated equally.

Then people captured in Africa were brought to these lands as slaves to serve those who had power, wealth and control. Over the years, people from around the world came to the U.S. find what they hoped would be a better place for their children. These people spoke various languages as their first or preferred languages. They also learned new languages as they adapted.

Out of these historical events, we have made a quilt of various pieces of our history -days, weeks or months - celebrating specific episodes in our heritage. Perhaps it is time to rise above all these differences and recognize that many, or most of us, come from some specific biological, ethnic or cultural heritage, but we are now all living together as a nation, a state. We need to respect the unity more than the diversity.

Maybe what we need are not more days of biological, social and cultural diversity, but a day celebrating our unity as a state and a segment of our nation. Maybe, rather than a Fourth of July parade, celebrating our division from Europe, we need a "Day of Unity" parade. It may be that what we need is a day in which Filipino, Tlingit, Haida, Norwegian, Tsimshian, Yup'ik, Inuit and other people come together to walk down our streets and call out, "Let's celebrate our unity. Try my foods; I'll try yours. Learn my songs and dances, and I will try to learn yours."

Or, as it says on the coins we use in business, "Ex pluribus, unum:" Out of many, one.

Wally Olson

Auke Bay

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