Different But Not Other

It is perhaps human nature to notice when something or someone is different. It is one thing to notice these differences, it is quite another to designate the difference as other and therefore less than.

Back in 1991, when I became Mrs. Minnesota International, I was interviewed as part of the competition I was asked by one of the judges what I thought about interracial marriages. I said what I truly believed, that the couple and their children might have a harder time because they are different. People in the community would see their physical differences and take them to mean not only not the same, but also other and even less than.

Our community is not only the place we live, but where we feel we belong. It is a place where members are valued for what they have in common and for their different skills and talents, needs and gifts. Therefore people who are wildly different can belong to the same community. The community needs only to recognize the valuable contribution and enrichment that diversity brings.

Martin Luther King said that we are the beloved community. He said that to overcome differences, we must choose love. "Love is creative and redemptive," he said, "Love builds up and unites," whereas "hate tears down and destroys."

Years after that interview I got remarried. The man I married looks very different than I do. His upbringing and life experiences are also different from mine, yet we have so much in common. I have found that love really is greater than hate, and that it is acceptance that builds community.

This summer, I invite you to broaden your sense of community. We all long to be part of a beloved community. Because beyond the superficial physical, economic, or ideological differences, we do have one vital thing in common: we each truly want to be loved.

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