America is called a “melting pot”, and it surely is. There isn’t a nation on the planet that doesn’t have representation, and most have brought family traditions with them. I know our family did. Rick and I are not that far removed from being from across the water. We’re both Heinz 57 variety Americans with a little more of this than that. Rick’s maternal grandparents came from Sweden. You’d have to go back two hundred years to Britain for his paternal ancestors. My (maternal) grandfather came from Germany, my grandmother Switzerland, and both came to the USA via Canada, legally (barely). My paternal ancestors are a mixed bag of English and Scotch (not the drinking kind – then again, how would I know) and American Indian. We thought our great-grandmother was a Blackfoot, but as it turned out, she came from an eastern tribe and had to live on a Blackfoot reservation when she came west. So did her white husband. My brother is doing all the family research and running into all kinds of interesting folk.
We like to think America lives by Emma Lazarus’ poem (on the Statue of Liberty): “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me. I lift my lamp at the golden door.” In truth, everyone who has come has faced hardship and unfair treatment by King George, slave traders and southern plantation owners, to northern factories that chewed up children and the Irish like ground beef, to the Indians who were here first and already fighting one another for hunting rights. We are all inheritors of Adam and Eve’s sin nature; wanting to be our own master and tell others what to do.
One gentleman wrote an interesting letter to the editor in our local paper. He said he only gives to groups who have diversity. How does he know if one does or does not? By the names of supporters; Smith, Gonzalez, Yamanoha, Nguyen, Gong, Franco… Not a bad idea. It was sort of like looking around our congregation and realizing – wow – we’re a mixed bag. Isn’t that great?!
Good people stand up and make changes when needed. Sometimes those changes come at a high cost and are a long-time in coming. We saw how far we’ve come to achieve Martin Luther King’s dream when Barak Obama was elected president. Even so, there are a lot of nay-sayers. I like what comedian Chris Rock had to say: “..to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person qualified to be president. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years…there have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.” That goes all ways; white, black, yellow, red, brown. We’d all do well to treat one another the way Jesus said: “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.”