ABC's of Diversity
I remember the first day I saw an old dude in pyjamas and a turban on his head. It was in Abbotsford, where I used to call home, and there were three of them on a bench. And then there was one on a bike. And then 8 of them playing cards. And then there was one walking down the street with a lady in a beautiful yellow dress walking a few feet behind him (Old school, other culture, man and woman type of relational dynamic stuff). If I walked ahead of my lady she'd probably trip me (New school, our culture, man and woman type of relational dynamic stuff). That's another story.
My point now is that I lived somewhere and had no idea who I was sharing that space with. Who were these people? I wanted to know. My desire was further spurred to action when I received the call from my wife "Uhm... there are men with turbans and swords walking down the street." Apparently these same, but different, guys had put on some fancier PJ's and were marching in a parade to celebrate their faith and honour their culture. What was their culture and what do they believe to be true about life and love and God?
Thus began my slow journey to move from ignorant to not-as-ignorant. These people were from the Punjab in India. They spoke Punjabi. Most practiced Sikhism.
Like many of you, I have been taught my whole life to 'love thy neighbour', but how can I love anyone if I do not know them. Moreso, how can I love someone if I am afraid them? Here's the solution: it's in taking the time to meet, greet and know/understand our neighbour that the fear washes away. My simple action of learning how to say 'hello' in another language opened up many amazing and awkward conversations that motivated me to do some more in depth language study, which lead to friendships and meals and birthdays and weddings, which led to opportunities to collaborate and produce and perform, which has led to deeper appreciation and yes, LOVE, for my neighbours.
Here's a clip from a little thing I did at the University of the Fraser Valley where I did my language studies https://vimeo.com/108495711. (PS - I still suck, but it's fun to try and it makes people feel good.)