Differences can divide

I was a bit aghast when I first heard about the trials and tribulations of Paula Deen. I certainly don’t wish to endorse disrespect between people in any way.

I am somewhat disappointed to the degree that public profanity, whether irreligious, personally derogatory, or simply filthy talk, has become widespread. The “N” word, however, is limited in its acceptance.

I suppose it’s natural for people to feel most comfortable with people who are like themselves, whether by skin color, common language, religious orientation or whatever the tie be that binds. In the past, geography and limited transportation kept everyone in their own backyard. Today as the world grows smaller every day, we have to learn to appreciate the varieties of human experience.

I recall hearing Dr. Benjamin Carson, being interviewed on television. He is an outstanding brain surgeon of worldwide fame, who happens to be a black man. When asked about his view on race, he replied, and I can only paraphrase, “When I open their skulls the brains are all the same color.”

Sometimes people get taken up with stressing differences in an attempt to feel unique in themselves. It should be plain that you cannot be different and still the same. I sometimes get confused with the women’s movement. I’m not sure if they are trying to prove that they are different from men, or the same. Of course we are each unique in our own selves, just as are each leaf on a huge maple tree.

My wife and I celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary this year on the Fourth of July. Somehow Independence Day seems an odd title for a wedding day. We have enjoyed a relatively good marriage over the years. People always ask you what your secret was, what you did to make it so far in an unruffled condition. We were sitting on our porch a couple days before the event this year and discussing that very subject. We agreed that our secret is that we both have been very good at simply accepting each other for who they are. Neither of us has tried to dominate the other. That may sound simple, but I recommend it to the entire population.

That’s just another of the wonderful advantages of a belief in God. When you see all people as created by a loving God, you find any variation from yourself, or your own kind as incidental. The difference was not a mistake, perhaps it was an ingenious way of helping us to learn to tolerate and accept one another. That certainly appears to be a lesson that requires some learning on our part.

May God bless America.

Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to