Why do we celebrate our differences in America? We have St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, and the entire month of February dedicated to the remembrance of contributions made by the African-American/black race.
What if I am not Irish? Even if I participate for fun because I'm not Irish, I am alienated to some degree because of the difference. What if I'm not Mexican? Going to a Mexican restaurant is about the extent of my involvement. So, I feel a little dis-jointed again. What if I'm not black? I don't know of another race that has a whole month dedicated to their accomplishments. This makes me somewhat uncomfortable. Are not these all a source of division in our country?
Some would say the same toward all the religious holidays, Christian and non-Christian, that we celebrate. Some people desire to take the opportunity of The Celebration of Differences to force those "differences" upon others instead of presenting them for anyone's consideration. Business conventions are like this. Ethnicities have been like this. Unfortunately, religions have been like this too.
Why can't we celebrate our commonalities? For starters we could begin with our humanity (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc..). From there we can open a dialogue and communicate with each other discovering more common ground like interests and relationships we may hold. Common denominators are strong factors in any equation. A sure foundation. A basis from which to go further and develop a bond, possibly a lasting one.
With differences, the choice is what we do with them. Do we horde them over our fellow man? Do we celebrate them with or without those that agree? The great thing about America is that we have that freedom. We have have both differences - the kind that compliment us and the kind which divide us. If we want to be a nation, people, community, or individual that seeks unity we must learn to recognize our differences and stop accentuating the ones which cause division. Notice I did not say, "We must accept our differences". It is a matter of two steps at this point: 1) recognition and 2) stopping the behavior/actions of division. It is not a matter of "it being o.k. for you to be different" - all of us, on this planet, are different - that is a given. Just as no two snowflakes are alike so goes each person within humanity. It is a matter of harmony, taking different parts and blending them together so that ALL benefit.
In music, you do not want one part to stand out too much. If any part does dominate, you would want the lead to showcase. However, a good musical group sings so that at any given time the listener can recognize the different parts being sung and respect them. Now, within the singing group, the people singing their respective parts can recognize the other parts being sung in order to stop singing too loudly over another part or the wrong note or incorrect dynamic. The societal application should be to harmonize our differences so that no one ethnic group or any categorical entity "sings loudly over the other part" or dominates in it's role over another "team member".
"Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body - different from one another and each contributing what no other could. When you find yourself wanting to turn your children, or pupils, or even your neighbors, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that. You and they are different organs, intended to do different things. On the other hand, when you are tempted not to bother about someone else's troubles because they are 'no business of yours,' remember that though he is different from you he is part of the same organism as you. If you forget that he belongs to the same organism as yourself you will become an Individualist. If you forget that he is a different organ from you, if you want to suppress differences and make people all alike, you will become a Totalitarian. But a Christian must not be either a Totalitarian or an Individualist." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
So, why do we celebrate our differences in America? Because we can. We have the freedom to do so and when we do it properly we can see the benefits we might pull from any given source. At the same time we can observe and highlight our commonalities so that our relationships are strengthened. If we can do all this in some consistently, positive fashion then we will be on our way to some semblance of harmony.
The likelihood of perfect harmony all the time, this side of heaven or the Millennium, is never. This does not mean we should not aggressively pursue this goal while here on earth. What the world needs now is a leader who will take us to this place of harmony. The earth, the people, and the systems of them are in turmoil and all are crying out for harmony. Biblical prophecies fortell of "a wolf in sheep's clothing" who will deceive the world into thinking he is the man with the answers to all the world's problems. Then, after a certain amount of time and certain agenda points achieved, he will seemingly turn his back on the world's leaders and take over the world as it's sole ruler (because he never had anybody in mind but himself).
However, there will come a time, called the Millennium, when a perfectly righteous ruler will sit on the world's throne - His name is Jesus. Talk about utilizing our differences! We will all have a common goal - to glorify The Lord and I believe we will not fall short of ways we will be able to display His worth.
As I have stated in the title to this blog, The Grinch Spirit (understatement) is at work in the world now. We are challenged to just get along as it is today. All we need is Love (sounds like a song). Jesus is also known by this name - love. With Him as our Leader all differences will harmonize as they should and I can't wait - MARANATHA!