Opportunities in Diversity

Just got an email from my dad that our friend Won-Ku Bang got married earlier this month in his home town of Seoul. So beautiful. His dad worked with my dad for years in the packaging industry.

You know, this might be bragging, not meant to be, but it just is something I’m so grateful for that started in my environment as a young girl: My dad had a job that required him to travel. Not just around the US, but the world. We, therefore, had pen-pals from South Korea (the Bangs), made friends with people from Turkey, England, Thailand- and at the time he had a Jewish boss- all the while we, being white (some of us I won’t mention with a slight pasty transparency about them;) and dance moves-Elizabeth is exempt- she has awesome dance moves) Christians from a small mid-west town were filled with love and respect for our friends from all these different countries who had a different culture and religion. I thank my parents for that, because I saw growing up that my sisters and I weren’t glued to have friends that looked or believed just like us. My sister would have lunch with foreign students almost everyday while she was a student at AU. I had friends growing up who came from Jewish, Morman, Muslim backgrounds. And I am proud of my red-hair! Proud of my Irish/Scottish/English/German/French/Scandinavian/Swiss Appalachian background! I have roots and a story- we all do. And we can all be proud of where we came from- there are good and bad people in every family tree. No exception here. I’m passionate about this with regards to genealogy and wanting to help others find their roots. We are made up of many cultures and traditions- skin colors and and experiences.

It sounds like a joke, but I vaguely remember a dinner we had with our Jewish host, a Buddhist and a Muslim and us Christians. We had a lovely dinner together. And then we walked into a bar. *Ba-dum-ting!*
Sure I had a lot of white friends, American, Christian, and non-religious, but I also had black friends, hispanic friends, bi-racial friends, friends who were 1st/2nd/3rd generation Argentinian, German, Mexican, Indian, Arabic, Filipino, Thai, Chinese, Korean…and ethnicity and religion aside, I had/have friends who are gay- I think on them all with love in my heart. It makes me so sad to read the news anymore. We are dividing ourselves.

I think about my friend I met at art school- she was alone a lot and had a strong eastern european accent. I learned she was from Bosnia. Some of her family had been murdered in the 90s back home. I visited her in her apartment she shared with a few girls who didn’t really do anything with her. Ten years later we keep in touch through social media. She was my friend, and at the time I didn’t even know she was Muslim, but it wouldn’t have made a difference, we shared our own cultures and traditions with each other and made our lives richer. If you stop and think, I bet you all have a diverse group of friends and people you have met in your lives. Hasn’t it made you richer? It makes me weep just reflecting on all the people. All the moments. And I continue to meet wonderful people who happen to come from some where else than Samaritan Hospital. The funny thing is I’m so grateful for my life experience thus far and I live three streets down from the hospital I was born at. Doesn’t mean I’ve only seen three blocks of humanity.:)

That’s what having any of these experiences for me in my life have done. Relationships. Making friends with people you wouldn’t think you have much in common with. You are people- you will find something in common and find that you love each other in a way that only human souls can. All the while I still have found the peace of Jesus and held on to that- I don’t have to force others to change and I don’t have to change- I just am called to embrace them and love them. I don’t always do a good job of it, or speak up or just listen when I should. I still have biases and stereotypes and I try to fight against those. You all help me be better. I hope this doesn’t sound like a typical answer to a beauty pageant question that I would surely be disqualified for based on my un-feminine man-hands alone;-) but: Be blessed this Christmas and I hope you can embrace some peace in your hearts. ‪#‎worldpeace‬

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