I was traveling on business and had occasion to spend the weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. A very charming city, and known for it's legacy as the start of the war between the North and the South of the United States as it was configured at that time. 150 years ago today.
This past weekend I participated as a Board of Directors member on the Model United Nations of the Far West, a college organization. Seated next to me at lunch after the meeting was a man from Senegal who came to this country while a college student to play basketball-6 foot 7. To my other side was an all American young moman who works at the UN and whose father is "Persian"--interesting choice of description--and an Indian mother.
What's the connection between Charleston and a college organization?
I was very fascinated and learned a great deal about the goings on that led to the Fort Sumpter conflagration. The tour guide really knew his stuff, and provided a great deal of information about the start of the US Civil War that was new to me.
I liked the walking tour so much that I bought the guide an ice tea after the tour to talk some more. He really hates Abraham Lincoln. He thinks that secession should have happened. He kept his opinions to himself during the tour, but was quite willing to offer them up to me in a thoughtful but somewhat startling way when he was not "on the clock."
And just this past weekend I have lunch with people who to my way of thinking personify what this country is about. The lady on my left, of Persian/Indian heritage, was as American as my kids. The 6' 7" former US basketball player on my right. We talked about many things, and racial and country heritage was a key topic.
Te guy from Africa had no difficulty discussing his experiences in the US being black. The young woman who has worked in Afghanistan recently, was able to describe her experience as a female who has the appearance of an Afghan native, but was born and raised in the US, so comes from a very different vantage point while working for the UN in a country like Afghanistan.
I contrast the conversation I had this past weekend with the one I had in Charleston a couple years back. Some people are still fighting a war that ended 150 years ago. I hope that most of us are able to participate in the sort of discourse I experienced on Sunday.