The quest for diversity in this great country has led us to the question: Are we ready for diversity?
Our current discussions on marriage equality, protection of the most vulnerable in our land and other debates has generated much heat but no light. If we are to be steered in the right direction so that we may arrive at our desired destination, where we experience the tranquility of a nation where our differences do not divide us, we must look to our lofty national documents that prescribe how we live out the “Dream.”
That prescription was first thundered from the lips of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, where one could still hear the echo of cannon fire in the air. His words, “We are dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…” brought to the nation reeling from a war, what our original purpose was all about.
That purpose was first declared in the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776, our Founding Fathers gave an approving nod of the head to the majestic pen of Thomas Jefferson, who gave wording to our will to be free. In that declaration were the words that inspired Abraham Lincoln’s words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” At the time these words were put together there were still slaves toiling in the fields. Twelve years later our United States Constitution, which seems to speak of a free people determined to live free, bore a contradiction. After the document to explain our freedom starts with the words, “We the People to form a more perfect union…” it labels slaves as 3/5 of a person. No sooner than the nation’s narrative begins, our nation is banging between two thoughts: “all men...” or “3/5” What would it be!?
One hundred years later, standing in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, the grandson of slaves and an orator whose skin had been kissed by the sun put forth a sequel of Mr. Lincoln’s proposition in order to settle our national problem. In front of the world the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King ask the nation to make a decision. Would African-Americans be included in “all men”? Or would the nation affirm “3/5” Yes!!! Our nation took its steps toward “all men” for all people with signing of the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The road to diversity was constructed and we are still on it.
Our nation’s travels on this road must include our brothers and sisters who seek to be free regardless of sexual orientation, income bracket or religious background, or if one has no religious background.
The Reverend Dr. King did not seek to make America a Christian nation or lobby for any other religion to preside over our purpose. He held up our Declaration of Independence and our United States Constitution and with his rich oratory and deeply-held Christian convictions, summoned all people to one mountain peak of vision for freedom.
In my son’s room there is a box of crayons. Each crayon is a different color. There is not a different box for each crayon for they all share the same box. Even though they are different they are not divided, and when worked together they provide a beautiful picture for all to see. Diversity. It’s a gift.