To say that we live in a globalized society would have at one time made for a major headline, but now is simply a given. From the people we conduct business with to the food we eat and the clothing we wear, we are nothing if not globally interdependent. With the economic needs and gains of such interdependence, we are fortunate to reap a host of other benefits, as well.
The great melting pot that is the United States of America has become home to immigrants the world over. The ideology of the American dream, that hard work begets prosperity, remains alive and well more than 80 years after historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase in his 1931 book Epic of America. Though its conceptual existence arguably predated Adams by several centuries, he popularized the term, describing it as:
“that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”
The freedoms that breathe life into the American dream are often the very incentive that lures people to journey to an otherwise unfamiliar land. This quest for a better life has the potential to profoundly change the path of the seeker, but what about its effect on the observer?
For one, an increasingly diverse population allows us to meet people from all corners of the Earth. Such encounters would otherwise be limited to those few, who for occupational or recreational purposes, have the means to travel the world over. Yet, to have the world brought to your own doorstep is altogether lovely, a gift that deserves to be unwrapped with care. And so it is with open minds that we learn first of difference, then embark on the journey of embracing those differences, whether they be political, religious, or cultural in nature. For it is in our differences that we find our strength. It is in the eyes of our neighbor that we find our own identity. We come to know ourselves more deeply and intimately than ever before and in doing so, empathy grows. We come to appreciate how others live, not forsaking our own preferences, but instead finally realizing that perhaps we as observers are the ones who are different.