American Diversity?

The U.S. differs from its European counterparts in that we are a nation of diverse groups. Interesting enough our largest ethnic group is German American, not British:

“In 2008, German Americans (16.5%), Irish Americans (11.9%),English Americans (9.0%) and Italian Americans (6.4) were the four largest self-reported ancestry groups in the United States.[4]”

It is little wonder that in times of stress we have difficulty in keeping all on board. Happily, as we have no dominant group, we should be able to assist each other. As we can see from our history, unfortunately the latest low status groups all too often turn against their successors. In my youth Irish and Italian Americans were the newcomers. Jews faced considerable resistance and with it exclusions. Fortunately the horrors of the Holocaust changed that.

The other type of diversion is economic: super wealthy, reasonably well off, hard-pressed, and poverty-stricken. Our last election was a peculiar mixing of these with some voting in their own interests and others ironically voting against themselves, as they will most likely discover all too soon.

The word is loose, but ‘liberal’ generally refers to those who would include all of us when measuring social justice. I fear that the so-called ‘conservatives’ are either out for themselves or opposed to the interests of others, e.g. abortion and universal medical care.

Personally my family tradition was in various ways liberal. One grandfather ran away from home at age 12 when a step mother accused him of getting into the sugar barrel. He became a successful small businessman in Hanover, NH, where he fought against the Klan when it briefly had spread throughout the nation. My other grandfather, Woolsey Professor of Biblical Literature at Yale, opened the doors to graduate education to those who had previously been excluded (e.g. Jews). He died early and before I met him with a long list of scholarly publications left behind — I can look up from my computer and see some of them — major studies of Biblical texts.

My bottom line here is that in times of great stress such as we are experiencing now, it is critical for those who care for others to do what we can to help heal the splits and wounds. I am a blogger for this reason, as some health problems keep me largely at home, so that I can only publicize events, not join in with them as I would have a few years ago.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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