Pilgrims Progress

People are people and that’s it — predominant thoughts vary, but the underlying humanity is always the same. I’ve witnessed many examples of children with wildly varying backgrounds fully embrace and integrate into a new culture. From what I’ve seen, kids really want to identify with the culture they grow up in, they have little to no desire to even acknowledge their heritage — they simply want to be like their peers.

Unless there’s heavy parental pressure and some isolation, kids will just blend into their surroundings. Integration goes awry when the wider community refuses to accept these newcomers. Can some parents maintain such a hold over their kids that they can’t integrate? Possibly, but the child will tend to see his surroundings as his home, it’s very difficult for a parent to impede this tendency unless the wider community constantly reinforces it.

It’s off-putting to kids when they’re asked “So where are you from? No, where are you really from?”. They’re from here, same as anyone else, yet they’re constantly reminded that they’re different, making them feel as if they don’t belong, causing many to retreat into their ethnic enclaves. It’s never the kid, but the community’s acceptance that dictates the ease of integration of newcomers into their new homes.

Old-world ideas often linger within the parents, but those ideas exponentially fade through each generation. It’s not differences that are the problem, it’s the assignment of negativity to these differences. It’s the constant ranking of differences from best to worst. A healthy community will highlight similarities, minimizing the identification of differences, all while dismantling prejudice wherever it’s found. People are hindered not by their inherited traits, but by the negative expectations of the surrounding community.

Whenever people are given a chance, they succeed. If a segment of a population does worse than any other, it is a clear and incontrovertible sign of unfairness, not inferiority. Prejudice and bigotry are easy, just pick a difference and harp on it. Then like a bully, society gets to hoist its failings upon those unable to defend themselves. It’s an unfortunate facet of society, but there are those that do well by instigating and exploiting a fear of outsiders.

Yet it is a sick society that allows the vulnerable to be used as pawns. It is therefore the responsibility of the just to provide a counterforce to such fear-mongering. Should we allow ourselves to be baited and utilized as tools to serve some self-serving agenda? Let us not fall so easily for a villainous ruse. Let us not be segregated and picked apart by ravenous wolves. Let us instead as a society, seek cooperation, combining the strength of our diversity into a united whole, rejecting intolerance while ever embracing acceptance of all who exist under the sun.

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