This comment is in response to a reblogged post from The Happy Quitter!
I too have always been concerned about the issue of racism. I grew up in the 1960s and heard on the news about riots in this or that city. Some cities (like Milwaukee, near where I lived) imposed curfews because they were “afraid” that racial violence would break out in their communities next!
When I was 12 or 13, I read The Diary of Anne Frank, and it had a tremendous impact on me. A few years later, I went to a high school in Arizona where I met people of other races for the first time. I learned about the Black Power movement, the civil rights movement, hippies and the peace movement, and wept along with other students at the death of Martin Luther King Jr. I dated a guy there who was black. In high school, my abhorrence for racism solidified, not only because of the people I met there (the school had a mission of multiculturalism and cross-cultural understanding), but also the field trips we took to Mexico and the Navajo Reservation.
People look back on the 1960s and think it was such a terrible time, but I am glad that I grew up while these issues were being brought out in the open and discussed. My world view was forever shaped and changed by attending that school and growing up in the late 1960s.
Today, I still hold onto the beliefs I formed then. I am “left of liberal” in my political and social viewpoint and do not consider liberal a dirty word! I admire many of the things that the Europeans have done – raising taxes to provide free health care and education for all, making cities bike and pedestrian friendly, making it difficult to have easy access to guns, and making a commitment to green energy. Sometimes I wish the USA would institute similar reforms. But we are a stubborn and often xenophobic people, whose country has its roots in breaking free of despotic governments. Our Constitution is wonderful, but unfortunately not always interpreted in a progressive (i.e. modern and changing) way. It is often very frustrating to live in the USA, but I am glad that I have had many opportunities to travel and live abroad.
I am also aware that no country is perfect, but that all have both good and bad. People are the same everywhere, with their prejudices and fears of “the other”. I think it is particularly prevalent today, since 9/11. Many Europeans must also be feeling afraid of all the immigrants from the Middle East flowing into their countries. Yet many of their countries are accepting a large number of these refugees to settle there. I am not afraid of such immigrants; what I fear most is that intolerance and greed will continue to lead us in a foreign policy that is anathema to Muslims of the Middle East. We left a power vacuum in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, and it looks as though we may try to topple Assad in Syria, leaving a power vacuum there as well. This is an open invitation for extremists such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and/or ISIS to take over.
Well, there are many problems in the world, a lot of extremism not just in the Middle East, but here in the USA also. It is heartening to read a post like the one below, expressing the need for tolerance and openness. As long as there are people with similar views, there is hope for better times to come!!
If you look at the world map, you will see that Europe is rather small. I grew up 10 minutes away from the Italian border, could drive to Germany in about 2 hours and Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Czech Republic and Hungary were just a few hundred kilometers away. Different cultures, different languages and different looks lived just around the corner and were rather appealing to me, it never scared me.
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