Melting Pot

I have an issue with the term, “melting pot.” America prides itself on being a melting pot, like it’s a good thing to put us all in one pot and turn up the heat. We get stirred up into a murky liquid poured into a mold shaping us into some standardized product. Is that what America is about?

Are we a heterogeneous society, diverse in character and content, or are we homogeneous, of the same kind, homogenized into one fluidity? Are we becoming one continual strip mall of chain franchises and big box stores? Isn’t variety supposed to be the spice of life? Do we all want to exist on a steady diet of milk toast?

Have you ever been to Washington, D.C. and visited our National Archives? In that building is a room unlike any I’ve ever walked through in any museum, anywhere. There’s a sacred hush as you approach it. The lighting is dim, but not uninviting. The room has no corners. Nothing is obscured. There is a graceful flow. Through the wonders of modern technology I transferred this room to my blog so you can see it. This is “The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.”

The National Archives website contains the following information:

The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom is the permanent home of the Declaration of IndependenceConstitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights. These three documents, known collectively as the Charters of Freedom, have secured the rights of the American people for more than two and a quarter centuries.

• The Declaration announced to the world on July 4, 1776, that thirteen British colonies in North America were leaving Great Britain to form a separate nation, called the United States of America. In justifying the revolution, the Declaration asserted a universal truth about human rights.

• The Constitution, drafted in 1787 after a hard-won victory in the War for Independence, codified the spirit of the Revolution into an ingenious practical scheme of government to promote the welfare of all its citizens.

• The Bill of Rights, added to the Constitution in 1791 as the first ten amendments, explicitly protected freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, and of assembly, among many other rights.

As I peered closely at these historical documents a feeling of appreciation came over me. What other nation has written up such guarantees for its inhabitants? In so few words, a small group of men articulated a code of standards unlike any ever written. Displaying an astonishing degree of collective wisdom, these men wrote words to ensure freedoms, opportunities, and advantages for anyone coming to their shores. They recognized that the pursuit of happiness, peace and prosperity is the inherent right of every human on our planet. People should be able to achieve these things without disruption.

I found an interesting clip from an old newspaper while digging around in the archives at my hometown library a few months ago:

Mrs. W. E. Henderson of Columbus, Ohio, the speaker at the Woman’s Club of Hudson, Ohio in May of 1929, said words that speak to us today with much greater resonance than she could ever have predicted, “We are going to the extreme in standardizing our ways of living. We are letting the machine do away with hand craft and are casting all who come to our shores into a common melting pot bringing them out stamped in the same mold, thereby killing their individuality. Wealth and power often make for bold arrogance, a fault we should guard against for it spells defeat for any nation.”

I like what she said about hand craft vs machine. That topic, however, is for another blog. Today, this is about the melting pot. What do you think about Mrs. Henderson’s words? Do you think they apply to our day? Please give me your thoughts. I would love to hear from you. I love writing, but I also love reading, so please write so I will have something to read!


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About Kathleen Franks

Kathleen Franks is a writer, artist, storyteller, and community volunteer based in Berkeley, CA
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