Our country is divided. I’d like to analogize it to the division that occurs when you slice a piece of pie except the slices would still be too close to one another. Even for the American kind. Especially for the American kind.
I’d like to liken our country, instead, to an old but intricately built Victorian house: rich with exterior detail, historically distinctive and regularly restored. But also like a Victorian house, the foundation of it doesn’t change. And its rooms aren’t as practical as they are beautiful.
And even more great at pretending that the inside is just as functional.
Except the inside contains rooms that are divided by walls even Trump couldn’t fathom. Walls built of racism, painted with social class and plastered with economic disparity. And though the beauty that encompasses each room is rich with color and culture, too often do these rooms function alone.
And in the famous words of Luther Vandross, a room is not a house and a house is not a home. In other words, functioning alone does not work.
Quite frankly, if you live in this country, we all share the same house. And in order for our house to feel like a home for all of us, it’s imperative that we all function together. With all of the unrest and injustice in this country, we should all be committed to this.
Yes, it is easier said than done. Yes, our country was built on a foundation made for divisiveness. But no, that does not mean that we do not do our part in helping to tear the walls down and build again.
So how do we do it? Stimulate your mind, Craig.
No, but really. In order to build something, we must first understand it. Too often many of us in this country go misunderstood while many of us don’t seek to understand. Cultural differences don’t have to mean cultural barriers.
When you open a door, you open your mind. It’s important not to go through life with such comfort that you’ve confined your mind to only the world you grew up in. That includes the community, the people and the experiences that were limited to your hemisphere.
Get out of your comfort zone and step into the room of someone else. Try learning another language. Memorize the recipes of foods from different cultures. Adapt a tradition, unlike the ones you knew growing up. Learn a dance specific to someone else’s culture. Spend money at independent businesses owned by people of different backgrounds.
You don’t have to like doing all of these things. But understanding them, the people and how they work? Priceless.
In addition, always keeping an open mind enables us to unlearn things that may not have been accurate, healthy or right for us. An open mind reminds us that there is always something we don’t know and to be mindful of the information we give and receive.
Reading and educating ourselves outside of what our parents and schools have taught us helps us to further understand other people and how or why they think or operate the way they do. It brings us closer together and helps us to realize that maybe we aren’t that different after all.
Closed doors mean closed minds. And closed minds are closed hearts. It’s time we start functioning together by not letting the walls of our home dictate the creation of walls in our lives.
Tamara Shanice is an actress, writer, lyricist and fashionable hustler who takes pride in entertaining and educating through her art. She’s a wandering spirit who loves to travel the world and marvel at the works of God’s paintbrush.