Celebrating the Beauty in Others
Every year at this time, I and many others reflect on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and of all who have fought for fairness, equality, and peace. Every year for the last few years, I have quietly recommitted myself to the important work of opening the world to my daughter – and now to my son.
We inflict far too much suffering on our fellow humans, and so much of the hurt we cause to others is born from a place of fear. People naturally fear the unknown. Some respond by educating themselves to ease their fear, and others by lashing out. Ignorance breeds fear breeds hatred breeds evil and on and on it goes. But it doesn’t have to.
Fortunately so much has changed for the better since Dr. King’s day, and yet we still live in a world where a person can be pushed onto the path of a train because of what someone assumes is his religion. I am astounded. With every case like that in the New York subway, I see that simply respecting others and not being hateful myself isn’t enough.
Among other things, exploring the cultures of others with my children, and all of the children I work with, is important to me. It’s important because it gives them a sense not only of the connections we share with all people, both those who seem quite different from us and those with whom we’re very much alike, but also of the things which are unique to various groups. In the geography, language, customs, food, and cultures of the world, there is so much to appreciate. Tolerance is not enough – I want, together with my children, to learn to celebrate, and to genuinely love the unique pieces that make up the intermingled, multicultural world we live in.
My children are still young, but for now, we mostly take advantage of cultural and religious holidays as an opportunity to learn about others. We read stories, look at photos, enjoy food and music from around the world, and process it all as we talk together. Of course travel is something we have been fortunate enough to enjoy, and I hope we will continue to do so. Elliot is too young to really participate yet, but I love Annabelle’s sense of awe. She seems to think everyone is amazing, and to love learning about what makes each person unique. As she continues to develop her own sense of self, I hope she’ll hold onto that love and appreciation for others, and that her understanding of the world will allow her to be an effective ally when situations call for it, too.
Because this topic is so important to me, I asked the members of the Multicultural Kid Bloggers to share some of the ways they celebrate the cultures of others, and tomorrow I’ll share what they had to say.