America has often been described as the great Melting Pot of society, giving people from all walks of life from various corners of the earth an opportunity to succeed. For the most part, we have welcomed the huddled masses of the global societies to our shores. Yet, the welcome mat has not always reflected the same message to all people. Africans were welcomed, but only as slaves. Hispanics have been welcomed, but only as migrant or menial-task workers. Over the years, Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants have received a discriminatory welcome, while Native Americans had the mat pulled from under their own feet and were not welcomed on their own land.
Yet, despite the discrimination awaiting in the new land, the tired and the poor continue to come, eventually blending into society. And, thanks in part to laws that assured the civil rights of all people, those from other lands establish businesses and become an integral part of society, helping America to live up to its Melting Pot moniker.
Recently, though, the xenophobes among us have created quite the stir, angrily blaming any non-white person for the ills of society. I’m sure some of them have uttered words similar to these: “I don’t have a job, because those damned illegals keep coming and taking our jobs!” In a society that incarcerates far more people of color than whites and that accuses every Muslim of being a terrorist, we have lost respect for one another as humans and have generated increasing divisiveness.
This vitriol even extends to other differences: men continue to out-earn women and hold the majority of legislative and corporate officerships; LGBTQ folks are still harassed, even in the landscape of same-sex marriage allowability; and the poor receive the wrath of the rich through policies that expand the gap between the two classes.
America, though, is not the only society to showcase these evils. In his recent update to the UN Human Rights Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, described how hate is becoming mainstream around the world. Reflecting on several calamities around the world that “inflict unnecessary suffering on many people,” the commissioner showed how really America is a microcosm of the divisions that are occurring in the world today. But, as he notes in his conclusion, it’s not too late to act and rid ourselves of this hate.
The question is, do we as a society have the tenacity and audacity to respect others and put aside our hate, or will we continue down the path of doom to our miserable, hateful end?