I am a child of the beat generation. I am a child of the 60's. I am a child of the era of free love. I am also a child of the working poor. And I am a child of a diverse city of ethnic differences.
In recalling all those years, I never saw "color", I never saw "wealth", I never saw "ethnic differences". All I saw were kids who were friends, acquaintances, popular and not so popular. We liked doing the things kids do together, whether at school or at camp or at the local "Y". We had a community center where everyone mingled and, in doing so, we got to know each other pretty well. There was no room for hatred because of skin color, religion, or ethnic background.
I grew up in a city of Jews, Catholics, Protestants, black, white, many from Eastern Europe or Ireland, Holocaust survivors, rich, middle class, poor and struggling, all hard working families with an interest in making the city a great place to live. The diversity was never an issue. No one disparaged anyone else.
I was surrounded by good people, people who cared for those less fortunate, who demonstrated caring, compassion, and understanding. I was brought up to be kind to others. Sometimes it was a tough lesson but a lesson learned, nevertheless.
Given my background, is it any wonder that I grew up thinking that most everyone, at least in my city, got along for the most part. I, personally never encountered bigotry, racism or anti-Semitism. Is it any wonder why I grew up to believe in the liberal, progressive philosophy, respectful of individual rights and freedoms, open to new opinions, free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant with a liberal attitude toward others.
And now, I look at what this country is becoming and I weep at all the outright hatred and loathing a whole segment of the population shows to others. I look at the Tea Party section of the Republican Party and cringe at their utter bigotry, racism and complete stupidity, their utter lack of respect and compassion for those who serve: military, firefighters, police officers, teachers, nurses; those who are poor; the elderly; the sick; children; the low wage workforce. Their thinking is so convoluted, so utterly lacking in compassion or understanding. They are fed lies which they believe because they have no desire to check facts out for themselves and they have no critical thinking skills. Life, to them, is summed up in sound bites that they get from nasty, bigoted, homophobic, religious nut jobs. They don't understand that LIFE IS MORE THAN SOUND BITES.