The recent travesty of myriad slurs to the young man who sang the national anthem for the Spurs NBA game raised a question in my heart and a memory in my mind. Why do we fear Diversity?
When Darius Rucker canceled plans to sing the national anthem ahead of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs asked Sebastien De La Cruz to do the honors. De La Cruz, an 11-year-old Mexican-American, is a San Antonio resident who appeared as a singer on America’s Got Talent last year, and he didn’t disappoint.
That the Spurs chose a Latino boy in a mariachi suit quickly became a controversy, with social media users asking why an “illegal alien” was singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and why he was “dressed like such a little Mexican.” One Twitter user posited that “They probably made this Mexican sing to stay in America.”
One Sunday morning around 9:30 AM I was leaving a local restaurant. On the back wall, I could see the cook taking a break and smoking a cigarette. I also noticed a middle-aged couple walking from the parking lot to the restaurant in the area where the cook stood. The woman approached the cook with such determination that I slowed considerably so I could subtly listen in.
“Do you know that smoking is bad for your health, young man?” she asked. “Yes I do,” replied the cook.
“And you smoke anyway?” she asked.
“Yes I do,” replied the cook.
“Young man, do you realize that cigarettes contain nicotine and carcinogens that will destroy your lungs?”
The cook made no reply, just looked quizzically at the woman. His break time was almost over, and she was wasting it.
“Come along my dear!” said her husband.
“Oh, we might as well. If this man wants to kill himself, there’s nothing much we can do about it. “What a tragedy,” she replied as she walked toward the restaurant.
Wow, I thought. Yet another sad example of one human being imposing their attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs onto another human being; and forcibly, I might add.
Well, this event didn’t stay long on my mind or have a lasting effect on me. I was reminded of it, however, one night when I was walking in the dark to my mail box. I came up upon a group of adults having cocktails and smoking. All of them! I said hello to those I knew as I passed and thought little of it until I started back home.
Isn’t that interesting, I thought? Here’s a group of people that enjoy smoking, exercising their belief out of sight of those who criticize smoking and its health hazards, like the lady at the restaurant had behaved.
It raised the question for me, “Why do people feel that everyone else should share their views, and aggressively force them upon others?” If you’ve quit smoking, it’s common to think everyone should also. If you quit drinking, then you feel everyone you meet should as well. If your diet is good for you, then you think everyone should be on the same diet.
Why do we devote so much time and effort trying to make the human race look alike and act alike?
When I look at the world that God created I don’t see it! I look at the birds out my window and pause to consider:
The hummingbird doesn’t eat worms like the Robin, and they’re certainly more energetic.
The woodpecker eats ants on the trees, not seeds like the quail!
The blue jays and Ravens are noisy and naughty… nothing like the sweet and soft-spoken doves.
And of course, the rowdy grackles bring their rude and noisy chatter to the tree nearest your home.
Diversity! Have we lost it? Or, have we bludgeoned it to death in our own self-interests. Have we lost our strength of character… our courage? Those who can no longer stand alone, find their strength in the numbers they can recruit or coerce into their way of thinking. Then the ‘group’ becomes a wider voice to coerce and dissuade those without opinions to join this ever growing group.
Diversity! Do we fear it? Are we insecure, and therefore unable to risk living in an environment we can’t control? I live in the desert, and see Midwesterners bring their lifestyle, their plants and their trees in order to recreate what they had – here in this new location. When the trees and plants die, they go through the same process… again, the same way – strongly resisting the limitations of their new environment.
I believe that the natural world our birds live in will be strong and survive.
The human race may not, because of distractions with issues that have nothing to do with survival, subsistence, and stability, or our identity.
Our lack of diversity has weeded out the strong vocal leaders like the Raven, the eccentric inventors, the workers like the Robin, or the nurturers like the soft-spoken Dove.
So I urge caution when a stranger asks you a question, should that question serve only as an entry for an upcoming tirade, promoting their crusade and beliefs. Be strong and courageous, standing your ground for your own beliefs and mores – this intruder will leave soon, after which you may again enjoy the sights and sounds of life around you – and live your life as you so chose.
Don Wooldridge | Author