Monday, April 12, 2010

What Our Founders Intended . . .

Per the OD today, Utica visited again over religious pluralism .

In a world of religious differences and sometimes strife, Utica is on the map as a place where multiple faiths are co-existing in relative harmony.

In recent years, the city has become a stop for international journalists, religious experts and diplomats interested in how Uticans are managing a remarkable religious transition.
While outsiders may scratch their heads in wonder, this all seems so natural to us. And it's not so hard to understand.

Utica was built by waves of immigrants. While the countries they came from may have had different customs, and while their reasons for leaving may have been different, their reasons for coming here were all the same: to start over in a land where they were free to make their own way.

Those memories linger in the family histories of the older Welsh, Irish, German, Italian, Polish, and Lebanese immigrants who came here. Over time these groups discovered what they had in common, and realized that they were not so different from each other.

Now, the descendants of the older immigrants see their own family histories playing out again before their eyes in the Bosnians, Russians, Cambodians, Karen, etc. that have arrived recently. The memories are refreshed. The new arrivals are traveling down the same path to freedom that our grandparents took. They are like us, too, in what really counts: seeking freedom.

It is only natural that we would want to show them the way.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

And, if Utica is to have a bright future, the new immigrant wave will, most likely, lead the way. A most important question is whether or not these immigrants will ultimately leave for greener pastures. This has already been occuring with productive Russian and Bosnian immigrants.

Greens and Beans said...

How could anyone not love our ethnic diversity? It is our greatest asset. When I was young, I delivered the Observer Dispatch (OD) in a rather ethnically diverse Cornhill neighborhood. At that time there were two newspapers in the city. The morning newspaper was the Daily Press and the evening newspaper was the Observer Dispatch. I, being a kid with a somewhat extraverted personality, enjoyed every one of my customers.

Delivering the OD at dinnertime was the most enjoyable part. Where else on the face of this earth can a kid taste every kind of ethnic food? I was able to enjoy all types of food and very quickly fell in love with every one of them. I think my favorite time was during all of the different ethnic holidays. This is when my customers pulled out all of the stops, in terms of preparing some of the most festive foods to celebrate with their family and friends.

The unique population diversity of this area is truly one of our greatest assets. I was one very lucky young person to be brought up with such a culturally diverse environment. My appreciation of this diversity was heightened when I was able to travel to other areas that lack the unique diverse ethnic prosperity. Albeit this was a different time of our history, family values was a common thread that we simply took for granted because its presence crossed every nationality.

Anonymous said...

I, too delivered papers in the good old days. Utica was only diverse in the white ethnic sense, dominated by Italian, German Polish and Irish. Blacks were segregated in the projects. Schools were segregated by academic assignment. That was the very ugly and unfair side of the city in those days. We should only look back fondly on part of our history.