Sunday, February 15, 2009
We ate last evening at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Sarasota which holds an annual event where the consumption of food prepared by church members is so wonderful that one cannot simply get enough of it. We dined at long tables elbow to elbow with others and listened to Greek music and watched people dance to that music. Two observations fascinated me; First, the attendees were having a great time participating in an activity that was as far removed from the stereotypical American dance scene as one could imagine. Second was the realization that in this typical American city was this purely Greek ethnic festival that has been totally absorbed into the fabric of American society. I wondered aloud (nobody could hear me, however, because of the music and laughter) how long before a similar phenomenon for other sub-cultures of our society would require to take their rightful places in the melting pot which is the heart of America? Granted there are certain areas of our country where ethnic groups have flourished. Deaborn, Michigan is one where it is said that the city contains the largest number of Muslims in the world outside of the middle east. The Greeks retain their cultural identity and, yet, participate freely without bias or ethnic hatred in the activities of our society. The same holds true for the Irish, the Italian, the Polish and others. The assimilation and acceptance of the Muslim population, while starting, cannot come fast enough. How long? The truer we hold to our basic values and ideals that all people "are created equal", the lesson to the rest of the world will be seen as the change that was the preferred rhetoric of the last election.