We were re-reading our #206 and became disconsolate. As expressed, the universal teaching of “we” and “they,” taught to the young [ undoubtedly, to furnish them with an individual identity and a sense of belonging] effectively plants seeds of discord, predictably festering and morphing into prejudice, warfare, and human tragedy. Unexpectedly, at such time a sudden recollection of a joyous and memorable event occurring several years ago, flashed into our mind and not only rewarded us with renewed hope, but fortuitously provided an antidotal preventative, as well as a cure, for such pathology of hatred and fear of the “other” (religion, race, ethnicity, belief system). First, the remembrance.
A good friend had invited us to the wedding ceremony and reception of his son. As it happens, the father of the groom was part Native American, the mother, Jewish. The bride’s family were Hindu-Americans, descendants of immigrants from the Indian Continent. The occasion was attended by a large, diverse and multi-ethnic mix of celebrants, all of whom visibly enjoyed the happy event. The timely occurrence of this memory effected a positive change in our mood, and as stated, articulated an instructive primer on the evident cure for the dangerous and tragic pathology of “we” and “they.”
The ceremonials, presided over by a distinguished Guru, incorporated cultural wedding traditions derived from the traditions of the Cherokee (groom offers firewood to bride, couple are draped in blankets pinned together, the Jewish (smashing of wineglass) and the Indian (bride’s mother gifting bride to groom). Prayers and blessings were multi-cultural as, most enjoyably, was the food. Our sole complaint was the choice of American rock music (we had expected some sitar music and Native American chant).
Admittedly, the event was somewhat extraordinary, in that it was multi-ethnic, featuring beautiful silk saris, multi-lingual toasts and blessing and some culturally traditional dancing [ but mostly American rock and roll]. The celebratory interaction was spontaneously and universally warm and affectionate, making the happening a great and memorable success. We appreciated, above all, the discovery and dynamics of an enjoyable, and effective antidote to the eternal toxic theory of “we” and “they.”
During the rearing and nurturance of our children, it certainly would be a salubrious and beneficial policy, to refrain from, solely and exclusively, teaching lessons in our own folkways, and to wisely include some enlightenment on the analogous ways of other peoples, emphasizing the commonality of mankind. For example, we can explain the functionality of chopsticks to knives and forks, the daily drinking of tea to the regular cup of coffee, the similarity of idealistic goals of all religions, the observation that traditional folkways of other cultures are historically meaningful, just as ours are. The theme is commonality, “us,” not the ultimately poisonous lesson of insularity, “them.”
For older members of society, already tainted by thoughtless and improvident childhood lessons [ it being too late for an antidotal dose of such wholesome messaging], we would respectively prescribe an effective cure, consisting of the following salubrious activities:
- Socialize with others of alternate ethnos and belief systems;invite friends of different nationality to your home,
- Listen on occasion to the music of other cultures,
- Exchange folktales, recipes, experiences with others,
- Learn about other cultures, their history and traditions,
- Attend museum displays of international exhibits and art, and,
- ** Very important—Do not passively tolerate ethnic jokes or slurs.
We can, ultimately, attain world peace by a universal awareness of the essential commonality and worth of all human inhabitants of our planet, and, especially, by teaching such principle to our young.