Sunday, July 5, 2009

Thoughts On The Melting Pot

If anyone ever tells you that assimilation into a culture isn't important, you have my permission to laugh in his face.

"The United States is a melting pot." How many times have you heard that old saw? Probably many more times than you've heard "Canada is a mosaic."

The basic ideas behind these two sayings are ones of cohesiveness vs. diversity. When you are talking about individual persons, diversity is good, when you are talking about culture, it doesn't work out too well. It's not that everyone has to be exactly the same, but it is important to have a set of values that provide cohesiveness for a culture.

Case in point: the neighbors to one side are Pakistani by ethnicity. The two teenage boys are second or third generation Americans. When they go out to eat, they beg to have anything but Pakistani or Indian food. For the Fourth of July the boys insisted on having burgers on the grill.

My family ate shish-kebab.

They wanted to be as American as American can be. They just wanted to have the sense of belonging, that they were just like every other kid on the block: doing the same things, eating the same food, speaking the same language.

My ancestors assimilated a while back in both ethnicity and religion. Hey, belonging is good.

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