Today begins a month-long spiritual journey on the topic of love and justice, led by the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. For the next thirty days I will be joining hundreds of people in reflecting and sharing about how love and justice and faith intertwine in my life and in the world.
Today we are invited to reflect on the question: Why are we trying to be multicultural?
The slightly different question I regularly ask myself and strive to live out in the world is: “How can I most honor the inherent multiculturalism of life itself?” The question “Why are we trying to be multicultural?” makes me think about the way I have been taught about culture: that there is one best, most normal, “default” way to be that everyone either fits into or is striving to fit into. That there is a need to “try to be multicultural” by changing things up and forcibly diversifying this default monoculture, instead of what is, to me, actually called for: stripping away the glasses that we have been given, through which everything appears in black and white, and seeing once again what we once saw and knew—the brilliant colors of life, more colors than we remembered were possible.
We are inherently multicultural. If you put only two people together, no matter how similar they might appear from the outside, there will be cultural differences between them. In a roomful of people, a community of people, a continent, there are more brilliant differences in ways of being, ways of thinking, ways of doing than we can ever imagine. Yet it takes hard work to remember this truth and honor it in how we interact with each other and with the world.
In her 30 Days of Love message for today, my colleague Taquiena Boston writes: “The only way to know if we are truly inclusive, welcoming, justice-centered, and compassionate is by how well we engage with people who are different.”
How well do I engage with difference? How well do I honor differences instead of pushing back against them in the ways I’ve been taught? How well do I strive to see the colorful brilliance of my own self and the people around me, and gaze at it with curiosity and wonder? How well do I seek out, understand, and learn more about the myriad differences that are invisible to the naked eye?
These are the things I strive for. Why? Because I want to be in authentic, deep relationship with the world, with myself, and with the people around me. These glasses I was given put up a barrier, teaching that black and white is simpler and more ordered and thus more safe than the brilliant, chaotic colors of reality. Until I can fully cast these glasses aside, I can’t be truly present. I can’t be truly connected. And I need that connection. I need to be awake to the real, vivid colors in the world or a piece of me will die.