Freedom, equality, tolerance. Words that so many of us take for granted because we've never known a world without it. It was the genesis for our forefathers to set sail for a new country, it was what they fought (and died) for and it is what is written into our constitution. More than 200 years ago.
So why is it we continue to struggle with its meaning? We struggle with its interpretation. Instead of opening our arms to the diversity that built our country, we judge, define and threaten to build walls.
Sometimes it takes an adjustment to our lens on life to see it. I was up in Canada this week, visiting Toronto. A city known for its diversity. And not a small city given its population of 5.5 million within the greater Toronto area. Here is a city with over 140 languages spoken, and a city taking in 30% of Canada's recent immigrants. I suppose you could say that it is just one city in an oasis. But it is not. Have a look at Canada's parliament. Go ahead - click on the picture and look. Look at the diversity embraced by this country.
Canada calls it 'visible minorities,' and the statistics speak for themselves. Nearly half of the population in this country are a visible minority, which is a four-fold increase in their population since the 1980s. An important part of diversity is tolerance. To live, and let live. Not to pressure others to live as you do. But let's put some real numbers to this belief. In Canada the Catholic faith has dropped from 47% to 39% (1971 v 2011), driven by the rise in immigration and acceptance to let other faiths practice their own beliefs. Conversely, the US population of Catholics has held steady. I use this example only to show the meaningful shift in population - not to call out any specific faith. But to show how Canada does not only speak of diversity; they live it. It seems that our neighbor to the North has quietly taken up the mantle of Lady Liberty.