Column: Diversity brings change; thats hard for some

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 31, 2007

By Andrea Lares, Paths to Peace

&8220;Human Beings, indeed all sentient beings, have the right to pursue happiness and live in peace and freedom.&8221; &8212;

The XIVth Dalai Lama

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My formerly beautiful and perfect front yard now includes a very ugly electrical pole. The utility company chose to plant it there earlier this month.

It&8217;s the first thing I see every day when I drive in. When I look out my bedroom window, my eye is immediately drawn to the ugly pole rather than the small evergreens around it. This change, as superficial as it might seem, annoys me. And what is especially annoying is that this change was not one in my control.

We experience a lot of changes in our lives today. Changes that may be very hard to become accustomed to. Some of these changes it may be a joyous changes or depressing changes. Many of us handle the way our lives change in different ways. These changes may pertain directly to our lives, or may be in the life of someone else, but somehow we are affected. It could be a new stage in your life, or the loss of a loved one. No matter what the change may be, it affects us whether we care for it or not simply because it has becomes a part of our lives.

One thing that is a huge change in our country, state and community is the growing populations of communities of diversity. In southern Minnesota these rising levels of diversity are due to immigrant populations, most often Mexican immigrants. With this change we see many old customs that may be affected. Many people may find it hard to get used to the change or difference. It is not something that was present throughout their lives, so this is understandable.

Many people embrace the new diversity they see in their communities. In fact, many actually celebrate the new traditions and customs that accompany this change. But some people may not even want these changes to happen. Adjusting to diversity may not be something greeted kindly, and instead of showing a positive response to change, some of us show a more negative and unwelcoming response.

Shouldn&8217;t we all open our hearts and our minds and embrace diversity in our community and let it enrich all our lives?

This is an action that may be easier said then done. But to start something that can live on for centuries from now, we need to learn to accept the changes of today and to embrace newcomers with open arms. This is a process that we all need to work together to accomplish-something that will benefit us all.

How we act today toward change can be the bright future for tomorrow. Many people that do come to this country are searching for that better tomorrow. Instead of adding barriers let&8217;s open the way. This may be challenging for some people, but put yourselves in their shoes. What would you do to provide for your family in their situation?

Would you be willing just start your life over?

But what about people who may not have chosen the right reason to come here or who have broken the law in some way when they came here?

There are always going to be good or bad people, no matter what background, gender, or race you are. The thing that needs to be addressed is not treating everyone like they are the bad person. We need to keep our minds open and see what everyone is really about. Sometimes we don&8217;t even give people a chance. We first comprehend the way they may look or where they come from. But we need to see beyond these things and welcome everyone no matter what.

Just as I need to look past the appearance of that pole in my front yard and realize it provides valuable electricity for my family, we all need to remember that within every change there can be something valuable and that in order to realize what is valuable we need to keep our hearts and minds open. One person at a time can make the whole world of difference. As the Dalai Lama reminds us, everyone has the desire and the right to strive for peace, freedom and happiness.

Andrea Lares is a senior at Albert Lea High School.