“Melting Pot” vs. “Salad Bowl”

Dave 0

Have you ever heard those terms?  Of coarse the "Melting Pot" is how people refer to the United States of America.  It’s the place where people of all races, colors, creeds, religious beliefs and walks of life come to become part of the culture of freedom. It’s the dream of coming to a place where everyone can be free and pursue life, liberty and happiness without the fear of being tossed into prison or any number of other awful things happening to them.

A "melting pot" is a container in which you put many different tastes, flavors, colors, brands or concoctions, turn up the heat and eventually melt them all together.  Take candle wax as an easy example.  If you burn down many candles of many shapes, colors and sizes to the point that they won’t burn anymore, what do you do with that material?  Yes, you could melt down each candle and pour it into a new smaller candle.  And once that candle burns down, melt it again and pour yet another smaller candle.  Each time the candle burns a shorter and short time, and you have to melt it down more often.  But, if you take all of the candles and melt them together, you can pour a few big candles that will last much longer.  All of the shapes and colors and scents blend together for a larger candle that will burn longer and be less work.

That is how the term "melting pot" is commonly understand as it defines the United States of America.  Many people, from many backgrounds, colors, races, religions and opinions come together for a greater good.  All to become part of this great Nation.  To become "American."  Since it’s inception, this Country has been the place for that dream.  However, in recent years there have been many who want to change that.  Enter the "Salad Bowl."

I first heard the term about two years ago on the radio.  At first, I thought it was a great analogy.  All of the different people coming from other places, each with their own backgrounds and practices, their own foods and habits, their own feelings about law and freedom and their own cultures living together in a large salad bowl, each bringing their own flavor and texture to the salad.  Just as each different type of lettuce, the tomatoes, onions and croutons bring different flavors to a salad, so do different people.  And surely if you were to blend and mix all of the ingredients of a salad together, it wouldn’t taste nearly as good, would it?

When you apply that idea to people in the USA, I think it defeats the original idea of what the USA was supposed to be.  That doesn’t mean that we melt everyone into one unrecognizable blob of humanity that all think, act, dress and eat the same.  It does mean however, that we should all assimilate into "Americans."  I believe John Wayne once said "A hyphenated America is a divided America."  "Mexican-American", "Chinese-American", "Israeli-American", "African-American", "Korean-American" or any other hyphenation of American means that the idea of being an AMERICAN isn’t good enough.  Why can’t people just become American and have different beliefs, foods, ideals and religions, but still assimilate to American culture?

I don’t think the point of America is to come here in order to setup your own culture in a new place.  If that was the case, why not just stay where your culture began?  Live the way everyone lives.  Don’t come to the USA and try to keep your culture separate from ours.  Our culture of being "American" is defined in our laws, our ideals, our beliefs.  Now again, don’t take what I’m saying out of context.  I don’t think we should all melt into that amorphous blob.  But we shouldn’t self-segregate ourselves either.  We’ve had enough of that in the past 200 years.  But, DO learn English.  DO join in on local customs.  DO get involved in the ways of the majority of the people in the State where you live.  Become AMERICAN.

I have friends and acquaintances of all backgrounds.  I don’t fault anyone for wanting to keep their culture alive.  But, the people who try to separate themselves from the rest of American society should go back where they came from so that they don’t have to "melt" into the American ways.