The MAX train murders in our fair city this past week has been on my mind – a lot. And, before that, an incidence of racist arson… I just don’t understand that kind of hatred. Portland is very fair, as in a lack-of-diversity kind of way. Oregon was the only state out of the 50 which had a black exclusion law written into its constitution. It’s statehood was created as a utopia for white people.
Interestingly, not much has changed. I’ll spare you my longwinded rants, but in short, it seems the two prevailing cultures in Oregon is either our own, homespun version of the Dixie flag-waving, gun-toting rednecks of the American South, or the non-confrontational, laid back, passive-aggressive hippie mentality that turns the other way. “It’s cool, man, it’s cool.” In the current political climate, intolerance is winning. This past Sunday, there was a “Freedom of Speech”-rally, organized by a bunch of Nazis. It’s both despicable, disheartening, and embarrassing.
So, this week, I want to make a case for the magnificient and far reaching benefits of diversity. In just about everything I can think of – art, design, food, music, what have you – color and contrast make things BETTER – not worse. Without it, life would be bland, meh, vanilla. Differences enhance, engage, and elevate, and add spice to our melting pot. And it makes us all better. The two who died did not turn away. They defended that diversity, at a terrible cost. We ought to follow their example – take a stand against intolerance and hatred – whenever we see it. If enough people do, love and tolerance will prevail – even in lily-white Oregon. And, we will all be better for it.