After working on four continents, I have seen firsthand that race, ethnicity, religion, politics, gender, class and immigration/migration exists and divides us worldwide.
I read Ruben Navarrette's "White Americans Learn What It Is Like to be Marginalized" (Aug. 27, 2018) just a few days after a contractor asked me, "Do you have a problem with Mexicans working on your property?" My immediate response was, "I love all people." What I should have said was, "I do not have a problem with any racial/ethnic crew doing work on this property as long as they do a good job, are honest and are fairly compensated." The contractor said he "had a hard time finding dependable white people who would do quality work, but he could always find Mexicans." He went on to say that young people just want to work on computers and they have no practical skills.
It is apparent to me that racial misunderstandings, some referred to in this article as "reverse racism," divide us. We all need to think bigger and open our hearts and minds in this country of opportunity. It's not all about me or you. It's all about us.
Why do we still view each other as so different from one another? We're like spoiled children arguing about who can eat "whose" cereal when there are four full boxes of the same cereal in the pantry! As to fairness, my sister likes to say, "The world is not fair. The fair's in September."
Why was I born into a loving middle-class family with so many opportunities? Why was my friend Alex born in a Somalian village, destined to walk 17 miles a day on mountainous roads as a firewood carrier, destined to be owned by a husband? Alex did not accept her life. Instead, as a teenager, she escaped and walked to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She was sleeping on the dirt road right under the balcony of my lovely apartment when we met.
There are many beggars in Ethiopia, much dirtier and hungrier that the ones we have here on the street corners of Hot Springs, but Alex never begged. She made coffee in the street, selling the tiny cups to construction workers. She carried water on her head for about a mile. When she wasn't home, many of us who lived there would slip some food into her tent because she would not take anything. We helped her because we could. She helped herself.
She helped us to understand Ethiopia. It was through this personal connection, and others, that my heart was opened to the suffering, the possibility of transcendence of circumstances and life's true meaning: connections.
My point is that we need to find ways to connect to others who are different from us and not see ourselves as a victim. This is the healthy, whole, spiritual way to live.
Laura Blue Waters
Hot Springs native, but citizen of the worldEditorial on 09/04/2018
Print Headline: Connecting with others