Psalm 89:3, says that "the universe is built on kindness" (more commonly translated as "forever is mercy built"). Rooted in the Hebrew scriptures and repeated in the Christian scriptures humanity is exhorted to “Love their neighbor as themselves” My, how the world would shine amongst the Universe if this were the case.
If you are one living in the city of Los Angeles (a designated cultural melting pot) you understand what it is to be saturated in a facade of fostered diversity. Los Angeles is a cultured, colorful fun place to live. It is accompanied with (generally) great weather. It stands tall with the idea that it breeds diversity and acceptance of all yet finds itself couched in prejudices that span anywhere from how we worship our Creator to our skin color, economic stability and/or scholarly prowess.
The question is, is it only the differences in our individuality that causes Los Angeles to be steeped in multi cultural challenges? When a baby comes into this world they begin to notice what is around them. The beauty of watching them touches ones heart when we realize that everything they see around them is beautiful. However notwithstanding a metaphor; if one is handed a dark lens all their life and that is what they learn to look through to perceive everything then, they may see things differently than if they are handed clear lenses all their life giving them a different perspective. Likewise if you are given disposable contact lenses changing them daily you are all over the map with how you feel and see things around you. If unsure of how to see things one ends up easily swayed by others lenses. This metaphor culminates with the idea that no matter what lenses you have been given since you were a child, if you never clean them through real life experiences with both your mind and heart you will be plagued with biases that do not even make sense to you. By the time this child is 5 or 6 years old their parents and/or caregivers, teachers and peers have begun the seeing process. The conclusion: “The eyes have it”
Benjamin Franklin once said; “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” In Kabbalah for example it is taught that the mind knows how to grasp things that the heart has not experienced. The two were created to work closely together to complete the picture. Mr. Franklin had a point. We were created and programed to learn and feel not just to learn and not just to feel. Children must learn from an early age that the world was created with beauty, and the individuality of humanity and lessons from it all are what makes life worth living.
There are those that see in others what others tell them to see and others that find themselves thinking they are seeing what they should see with little to no clarity on what it is that is really in front of them. This is at least some of the make-up of a bias, prejudice and stubborn individual. The problem is in the lenses. “The eyes have it”
Example: One religion says you must believe one way and if you do not, you may be viewed an outcast, not only different but doomed. Another religion says they will respect and/or accept you in theirs as long as you follow their tradition only to be rejected, and later realizing you really have not been accepted at all. Then we have those wonderful people that shout from the top of Mount Everest; all are welcome and when the “all” come they draw distinctions in the sand. They form cliques separating themselves from those said to be welcomed. Again, “ The eyes have it”
Wealth and Poverty
For the eyes of one that is satiated to notice when one is not or the eyes of the impoverished to notice when one is satiated is normal be that as it may, to allow the distinction to divide society and destroy the concept of equality based on what someone has or does not have is wrong. The antidote is making sure our lenses are able to see others with concern and respect for who they were created to be. Martin Luther King, Jr. hit the mark when he said “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” If one is near sighted we cannot see beyond what we have arrived at. Instead of being concerned for others one becomes judgmental and assesses every situation with the stereotyped stamp society has given it. The bottom line: “The eyes have it”
Let’s begin with some ignorant mindsets: “You are too tall to be Mexican”, “They have blonde and blue eyes in Latin America”, “you don’t look Jewish”. I could go on and on with the characteristics that society is taught to embrace. Skin colors, clothing, all this within and without ones culture is what gives the lenses to our children. One is not less valuable because their skin is dark or because their wearing religious garb that has been given a stigma. One is not a greater risk because they are not what you have been told to see as good. Everyone should be given the right to be who they were created to be and to become who G-d wants them to become. Sometimes it is the ones screaming against profiling that are the guiltiest of it. Once again “The eyes have it”
Benjamin Franklin also was the one who said: “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.” It is the lenses described above (not limited to) that have created problems in our society. It is the stigmas and stubbornness. Appropriate to the recently released movie “ Cesar Chavez”, I quote him when he said: “We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community - and this nation.”
As a proud Jewish Latina/Mexican woman I am comfortable writing about these issues. If we are not willing to check our own eyesight and teach the beauty of G-d given diversity to those around us, we will never impact this generation for generations to come. Bill Cosby said: "Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing. When it is all said and done “The eyes have it”