Monday, September 21, 2009

Blue Bubbles

Imagine snorkeling in an ocean that has nothing but blue fish. They are perfectly nice and pretty to look at, but gee, you would miss all the other kinds. That's what it feels like here. Its blue faces in the newspaper pictures, blue parents dropping off blue kids at the neighborhood schools, blue people filing into churches on Sunday morning, and blue joggers dashing past them. And when you see someone who is NOT blue, they're probably cutting the lawn, bagging the groceries, or serving the food for someone who IS blue. Its a blue bubble here.

Just this morning, someone wrote to our local newspaper saying, "Democrats have a cash-for-clunkers plan for the elderly: when your parents get too old and sick, the government will pay you to pull the plug on them." I can't imagine why anyone would believe that government officials could be so diabolical, and the letter writer probably can't imagine why anyone would trust and value government like I do. We are just not swimming in the same water.

I lived in a homogeneous bubble in Berkeley, too. I met almost no one in Berkeley who served in the military, didn't go to college, or couldn't afford to own a computer. And in my Berkeley bubble, it was hard to imagine that some people have never been on an airplane, never listened to NPR, or never subscribed to a newspaper.

When they learn that I moved to Arkansas from Berkeley, everyone says, "Oooh, culture shock!" And yes, jumping from that bubble into this one is indeed very shocking. But am I naive to hope that we can do away with bubbles someday? Am I thinking this way just because I miss my Berkeley friends as much as I do (which is a lot)? For whatever reason, I am determined to find common ground with my new neighbors, and to befriend them if I can. Maybe they like pie as much as I do? Or mocking birds? Or grandchildren?

In fact, the kids are my secret hope for the future. Katie and Leo (and their friends) relish pointing out whenever I'm speaking from inside some bubble or other. Each of them has already ventured far enough to value different voices and viewpoints. I trust that they'll avoid getting stuck anywhere because both are veteran bubble busters already.

Here's a picture of Leo checking into his new apartment at UC Irvine, where his roommates are Indian-American and Chinese-American guys. Non-Hispanic white kids like Leo make up only 27% of the students at UCI. He already inhabits a world far more diverse than mine, and so does Katie.

And here's a picture of dear little Honey with her first fistful of crayons. Hummmmm, I wonder what she will draw with them.

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