At an early age, I sought differences, was highly attracted to them, had to know, curiosity. In my early 20s, I was plunged into an occupational world that held much diversity in acquiring knowledge, languages, cultures, traditions–a banquet.
And, I always thought I had to keep a secret: I thought I wasn’t patriotic. That admission in my country will not be followed by asking questions or listening – no logic involved – you will be boiled in oil.
Why not patriotic? Well, in my occupation, I saw people from other countries, educated academically in other countries, in other traditions/languages/customs/cultures/religions who were intelligent – brilliant even, talented in many fields, kind, compassionate, humorous, wise. Those ‘strangers’ came to teach something, to give us (the US) something of their experience/knowledge/art. I got to witness that, be in on that, marvel at that. I believed people of all countries had something to offer. I believed many countries had come together and made unimaginable, heartwrenching sacrifices so that they could begin their journey to freedom and equality; that many helped mine continue that journey. I believed that all countries were made up of human beings, living beings and they wanted freedom, just like I did. I love the richness of traditions, cultures, languages, knowledge, art and I don’t think, to love my country, that I have to think any other is less, inferior. That is deemed unpatriotic, heretical and a few other terms.
To love who I am, what I have, where I live, I do not have to think anyone is less. To appreciate and express gratitude for the life I live in the place I live, I do not have to think anyone is less. I love the ideals and principles for which I strive: To be a good person, to do good to self and others. I’ll do that anywhere and love who’s around me, and acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices they made so that I am free to pursue that.
May there be compassion. May there be awakening. May there be freedom. Thank you for taking your time.