I have been to Washington, DC, a number of times and always came away with new insights. We took a family trip there this past week to introduce our granddaughter, Erin, to the nation’s capital. As always, I left with a new set of impressions. This time I was especially sensitive to the diversity I observed. Here are a few vignettes:
- The young father—possibly Ethiopian or Eritrean—sitting on a bench with his wife and two children between the Vietnam Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial and explaining to his family in precise English the importance of these sites.
- Muslim women carefully covered with full length dresses and the hijab while sitting at Ben and Jerry’s eating ice cream.
- The group of French students and their professor admiring the art works at the National Gallery of Art.
- Visiting school groups, both from out of town and local, composed of students of various ethnicities.
- Overhearing conversations in many languages and dialects.
- The racial diversity of Federal employees who provide security at the Capitol and other sites on the Mall.
- A little girl posing next to the statue of Rosa Parks in the Capital Rotunda (see below).
A visit to Washington is a reminder that we are diverse nation and our diversity is attractive to people from around the world. Because of the opportunity available in this country, many have migrated here and many more want to do so.
Whether we will be a diverse nation is not a question. The diversity began when explorers from England, Holland, Spain, and France decided to settle on the continent. Despite significant differences and conflict over the years, the movement has been toward inclusion and equality rather than separation and submission.
The process of inclusion is never complete, but there are some who would seek to use our differences as a means of division rather than cooperation. There are those who would seek to divide us with fear and distrust. They will not succeed.
Exclusion is not an option; inclusion is the overpowering force in our country.