That’s my general rule of thumb when it comes to many of the issues that populate America today. I stay out of business that’s not mine, unless it hurts others. Why can’t we just let people live?
I, for one, have always been perplexed by those who demand that people change their mannerisms and habits simply because they are different, especially in terms of language. English is the language of the majority here, but to be American, you do not have to speak a certain language. In fact, our country prides itself on being culturally diverse; people from many different countries immigrate to America for new opportunities or a fresh start. Although a person may not be able to fully assimilate without knowing a language, I fail to see how any of that is of another person’s concern.
Everybody is entitled to speak another language in this country, and they are allowed to practice their culture without criticism—which in no way is forcing others to adopt it. If a person follows their own traditions in public, they are likely not expecting random passerby to observe and adhere to them. Pushing a certain culture on another person is another story, but I have yet to see this done forcibly. It’s also not so hard to grasp the fact that foreign cultures are extremely fascinating and will naturally increase in popularity over time. Such a diverse melting pot is what makes America unique, and I see no harm in keeping it that way.
I, for one, have never had to assimilate: I was born here and have never lived anywhere else. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to blend in with a strange, new culture: to learn its customs, traditions, quirks, and hardest of all, its language. I don't think that non-English speaking immigrants are willfully ignorant to the world around them. Everybody wants to belong, but it will take time for people to feel comfortable, to feel like they have a grasp on the ins and outs of American life. Assimilation does not happen in a split second.
Some people have left everything behind to seek new beginnings or provide for their children. Such a choice is not easily made, and everybody has their reasons for why they end up where they do. But somebody’s worth is not determined by their ability to adjust to their new world, nor is their failure to acclimate anything to criticize. Nobody is obligated to assimilate; yes, it may affect how easily they can interact with people here. Yes, it may mean that they will have trouble understanding the intricacies of American culture. But that issue is really nobody’s concern but their own.
Another example of my philosophy put to use arises when struggling populations are given extra aid and support because existing resources do not fit their needs. This can range from bridging language barriers to leveling academic disparities, where resources are allocated to those who need them most. Helping groups of people who need unique accommodations is an act of inclusion, and promotes a world where people can all achieve the same goals, some by utilizing specialized support. I may not need particular resources, but others might, and these seemingly insignificant stepping stones can help people relieve daily struggles. Some examples of inclusive additions may include gender neutral bathrooms, free tutoring resources, and translated pamphlets. Making our community and its features as accessible as possible is always good, and rarely poses even a minor inconvenience on those who do not need it for themselves. What’s not to love?
Maybe this mindset is also for my own sake: it’s exhausting to continually criticize people who live harmlessly in the ecosystem of our city. If I don’t understand why certain measures are put in place, it’s probably because I have not experienced the struggles of someone who needs them. If I can’t understand why a person made the choices they did, I might wonder about it and move on. It’s natural to pinpoint faults in others’ philosophies because they don’t align with my own, but without context and an entire life story, it’s simply not my place to judge.
This is the way I choose to live, yet I don’t expect anybody else to do the same; it's simply none of my business.