Thursday, August 12, 2010


My grandparents, though their families had been in Louisiana since before it was a part of the U.S., spoke only their French dialect as young children.  When they began school (in the years before 1920), there was a new idea about what it was to be a "good" American.  It meant to be assimilated into the blander greater culture.  They were punished severely (and I imagine incomprehensibly) if they spoke any language other than English.  

Within a generation, their language was made academic.  I studied French in high school.  Lucky for me, I also studied at a French university and really learned the language.  I tried to give my daughter, Gem, the best of both worlds so she is bilingual.  In that way it's come full circle.  

Did you know that (contrary to popular opinion) the United States has no official language?  Yep, and I say that's a good thing.  People always do and always will find a way to get things done across a language/religious/cultural/regional divide.

Some countries have 2 or more official languages:  Switzerland has 4 and they're doing all right.

What it is that makes us want to either be like everyone else or make everyone else like us?  Why can't we just enjoy who we are and enjoy others as they are?  Is it too Kumbaya to think we can?  

I can walk around my neighborhood and find people with many different religions, languages, cultures, and families.  I consider each to be a friend, would gladly go out of my way to help any of them, but don't necessarily look, act, talk, or think like them.  

This was all driven home to me recently when our family returned from a trip to France.  Gem had been there the whole summer; my husband and I just a couple of weeks.  I couldn't believe the negative remarks people made about France and the French.  Whether or not I agree with a country's policies, I would never assume that all its citizens are in lockstep agreement with it.  (I sure don't agree with many U.S. policies.) 

Here's what I think about the French:
  • They love their children and want the best for them.
  • They value family and friends.
  • Most live their lives according to what they see as right and good.  And are doing just fine.
  • They eat very well.
  • The graffiti artists in Paris are ingenious; how do they get into those spots?
All of which I could say about any other people in any other place.  We're all richer when we make connections rather than divisions.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me about it. What's on your mind?