Well, there were birds. It’s just that taking the umpteenth picture of geese wading, flying, or doing whatever geese do, on this day, was not what I set out to do. There were pairs of mallards floating about, a merganser here and there, even a Northern Shoveler that was just a bit too far. Huntley Meadows on a sunny, cold morning in late February.
What to do? The morning frost was melting away. There were leaves on the trees, on the ground. There was water. There was the glorious sun. And there are still some pictures to be had.
Almost every city has one. And in New York, blocks away from the financial district, blocks away from the Freedom Tower, people live lives in a world familiar to me. Vegetables and other produce neatly arranged in stalls, perused by eagle eyed shoppers; the aroma of freshly cooked food punctuating the cold autumn air. A trek through a neighborhood that while not quite the America of the town centers, is still unmistakably American. A reminder of the diversity, almost uniquely American, that makes this country a great nation.
Ethnic neighborhoods still dot the cities and towns we live in, but underneath it all is the common thread that binds us all. We are different and yet we are the same. It doesn’t mean that we need to sublimate cultures to create a homogeneous whole. Who wants to look at a grey wall? We do need to understand, however, that maintaining a separate identity, a separate belief system is not the best way for people to understand one another. If we are to be one, we need a common sense of purpose, a common goal, a common dream. To better one’s self but not at the expense of others. To work hard, to reap the benefits of hard work; not to expect things to be handed to you, but always willing to help others when help is needed. We may not all look alike, but we share the same mitochondrial DNA from some ancient Eve.
Share what you have. Share what you know. Do not be afraid to learn. Forget your preconceptions. When you understand others, you understand yourself.