Make Bridges, Tear Down Walls

Few people paid attention to a little piece of news last week in the U.S. newspapers. It turns out that minority babies are no longer in the minority in the U.S. So it’s official now — white babies are being born at a slower rate than non-whites.

Maybe people didn’t bother that much because the news is not surprising. Maybe they are resigned to the reality of a multi-cultural world, but I doubt it. In fact, there is a chance that one day there will be a party in the U.S. like the one founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen in France. The angst of people against immigrants will rise to the surface. And don’t be surprised if the ones leading the charge end up being the non-white babies being born today, who by then will be fully integrated into the minority culture.

This reminds me of the time I lived in Southern California and voters in one district managed to pass an open air initiative which basically barred farming families from selling their land to developers without the express consent of voters. The irony of that initiative, though, was a lot of the people who voted for it would have not even been there if the initiative had been passed ten years earlier. Most of them now were living in sprawling suburbs built on former farm land — the very land they now wanted to keep from being developed!

I think the reason people didn’t pay attention to the baby story is that they are distracted by an election and a sluggish economy. But that story may still enter the fray in this volatile year of Presidential politics, especially in a year when there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the presumed opponents.

Now I know that many people in the U.S. don’t necessarily think of England as a model to follow and I would not be surprised if racial tensions in there might still result in some version of a civil war some day. But I am somewhat optimistic that they may still avoid it. And what gives me some hope is a place like the district of Dalston in East London.

I haven’t been there but I read about it recently and saw some cool pictures. One street illustrates the possibility of peaceful diversity at work. On one side of the street a sign in vibrant orange advertises Indian and Caribbean cuisine. On the other side, an Arabic sign advertises halal food, which indicates foods that have been prepared according to the Islamic customs. And what is even more interesting is that this neighborhood was for the longest time traditionally Jewish. But they started attracting immigrants from the world over, thus becoming a truly multicultural place.

So my question is: is this the future of us all or should we expect more rough waters? Chances are it will be a mix of both.

I don’t know whether you think this is important or not, but as a follower of Christ one of my favorite expressions is “at the foot of the cross we are equal.” The apostle Paul, speaking of the work that Christ did on the cross, put it this way: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups (referring to Jews and gentiles) one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” 

And I hope I can reach the end of my life and be remembered as one who built more bridges than walls.

Ivanildo C. Trindade