Norway tragedy should make us look inward

July 25, 2011

What a tragedy that has occurred in Norway, all because someone sees no value in "multiculturalism," a word that is defined also by religious tolerance and racial equality. This makes me reflect upon our own country and some of the racial comments I encounter from individuals and the divisive rhetoric I hear on our airways.

Fortunately, we are a country founded on the principles of equality for all, and these rights are protected by our Constitution and enforced by the court of law. It has taken time to assimilate the many ethnic groups within our society and right the wrongs (some by war) of our historical past. It is still a work in progress as we still receive across our borders first-generation immigrants, but being known as the melting pot of the world makes me proud as an American.

I am part of the majority race, but I live proudly in a neighborhood in which I am in the minority, with many neighbors who work hard every day to support their homes and family, and I can say many are my friends. Having grown up in the same area over 50 years ago, I can say relationships between races and religions were not always this way.

There are those who think some races are better than others and that certain religions are absolutely right and all others are wrong. Political parties can thrive on this fear or thinking to push their agenda, and as we see a falsehood can create a reality, and humanity suffers.

The science of evolution supported by ongoing current research has shown that we all are of the same race and the differences between us are caused by genetics and influences of our culture and environment, yet we want to discount this science in the name of religion, nationalism, etc., if it doesn't support what we want to believe. Religion is a great thing, especially if it is a religion that teaches that God is about spiritual love and not the spreading of hate, but it can be used to create a self righteousness that can lead to dangerous acts, including war.

A country such as Norway or any other free and democratic state, such as the United States or even Israel, most work within their political system to create equal rights and opportunities for all or the freedoms and rights of the majority will falter in time also. Multiculturalism isn't just a politically correct term; it is a reality that needs to be embraced to perpetuate basic human rights and a peaceful coexistence.

Steve Devon, Baltimore

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