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Multicultural and Multiracial Connection

By  Rev. Dr. David Alicea, United Church of Christ of Paradise Hills

     A lonely man sits in the dessert, meditating on the purpose of life – the sole purpose of life.  The protagonist of “The House of Love,” a short story by Miguel de Unamuno, he is unnamed and given neither face nor persona by the author.  Finally he decides to visit the House of Love, the only structure in the area (and not the type of house one might imagine).  When he knocks on the door a voice responds, “Who is it?”  “It’s me!” he shouts.  The door remains closed and there is silence from within.  Frustrated, the man leaves and returns to his meditation, this time under ever more adverse conditions, Unamuno having added thunder and snow storms to the scenario.

     What went wrong, he wonders.   Finally, there is a breakthrough.  Rushing back to the house, he knocks again, enthusiastically and with a certain desperation.  “Who is it?” asks the voice from within.   “It is us, we, all, everybody,” the man replies.  The door opens and he is received by the multitude of people inside.

     I love this story and often re-read it to refresh my sense of collectiveness and inclusiveness.   We tend to forget who we are and many times get lost on life’s journey as we stray away from its sole purpose:  living together!  The two key words in this statement are LIVING and TOGETHER!  Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “If you are not capable of dying for what you believe, then you are not capable of living for what you believe.”  Living takes a lot of courage and determination – and calls on you to find your “gift.” 

      Once you discover that gift, it becomes easier to understand what life is all about.  It  will engulf you in activity, changing your life, enabling you to make a difference.  You don’t have to do “big” things; little things can make a big difference, especially when done, as Mother Teresa said, “with great love.”  Remember, “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”  Making a huge difference just takes the will and the vision to move forward.  To recapitulate:  it’s not just living, it is living together.

     Here is where things get a bit complicated.  In the midst of life’s complexities and challenges, we are called to pluralism – and to intertwine, to relate, to embrace and, most of all, to share. You can’t embrace yourself, can you?  You can’t share if you don’t have somebody else with whom to do so.  We were made for each other! 

     Connecting with people who do not share your cultural background, ethnicity and folklore can be quite a challenge, but NOT IMPOSSIBLE!  I have learned that when I share with people from other races, a lot of things happen.   First of all, my world grows into a universe of possibilities! When I have possibilities my options increase, as does my awareness in life.  With options and awareness comes a call for response and engagement (levels of commitment).  In other words, I jump from the finite square of my comfort zone into a cubic of endless zones.  WOW!  So much to learn, share and embrace and, in the process, growth comes to me like rain to dry soil.

     The second thing that happens is what I call PAINTING LIFE WITH NEW COLORS!  It was June 6, 1939 that The Wizard of Oz appeared, the colors a delight brought to life by a whole new world of communication and vision.  When we share with other races and ethnic groups, our life is re-painted with new colors.  Colors of life!  These colors represent a new outlook, a new perspective and a new projection.   We emerge from our grayish areas and black-holes to discover new realms of color which bring new bridges of connections, turning our life’s screen from a black and white projection into an LED 3D HDTV full color flat screen projection. When life fills with new colors, it opens us to new walks in life!

     Finally, when we commit to a multicultural and multiracial lifestyle, we begin to discover new challenges in life.  Everybody needs some level of challenge in life.  For example – Anglos tend to interpret life’s development from an individualistic sense of life.  This can be seen through sports events: when a team wins a championship, the media concentrates on a specific individual who carries the honor and glory of the triumph.  In Asian cultures there is more of a collective vision:  when the gymnastic teams win the gold medal it is seen as a collective success.  The team’s effort made it happen.  Hispanics have difficulty with self-disclosure, which initiates a trend of recognizing and honoring other players for the triumph, while African Americans are inspired by their religious belief and strong sense of history.  Samoans view triumph in a collective manner as well, yet add the distinctive pattern of paternal hierarchy, enduring and embracing its structures.  American Indians embrace life through a rich and high sense of traditions forged by their ancestors.

     If we can learn how to use these differences we will be enriched culturally and ethnically, we can move beyond our biases, prejudices and lack of information.  There is still a lot of ground breaking to be done.  There is still bias and prejudice in America based on fear and lack of knowledge.  Thanks to technology and population growth, the world is getting smaller and smaller, making it essential that we move ahead with the agenda of living together.  We need to push forward, too, because the realm of God revealed in our scriptures is not separated by walls, suburban areas, ghettos, swamps or money.  We are all going to the same place!  We need to push forward because it is the right thing to do!  Go to the house of love and knock at the door and let’s see what happens!  God bless!

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