By Kyle Treasure

If you believe in the American Spirit, you believe in some form of the Great American Melting Pot (or salad bowl or mosaic or kaleidoscope). A pot full of different cultures and traditions is not a bad thing – never has been, never will be. Rather, the American Spirit is the spirit of inclusion. It’s the spirit of reaching toward hope.

When the Irish masses started immigrating to the U.S. in the 1840s, people were alarmed, perceiving that the Great American Melting Pot was changing too much. Walking down the streets of New York City, Americans heard new accents, saw alien religions, and experienced unfamiliar cultures. The Irish were accused of taking jobs away from hard-working Americans, straining welfare budgets, and worse.

As the immigrants arrived, the Great American Melting pot did change, continuing a process that began much earlier. Disregarding all the positive things the Irish brought to our country, many Americans felt uncomfortable. They wanted to go back to more familiar territory – to the America they were used to. In a country as alive and dynamic as ours, going back to the past simply isn’t possible.

Much like the 1840s, we’re seeing an influx of immigrants from other countries – including refugees from war-torn nations, and many others. Once again, some Americans are uncomfortable with the changes going on. Could it be possible that these changes will result in a new American culture that is stronger, sweeter, and better?

A homogeneous view of the nation goes against what America has been since its inception. After all, Lady Liberty’s pedestal bears this poem:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

– Emma Lazarus

America has always been a place where people can come, settle, and add their voice. But that’s not to say that they won’t remember their national identities. The Irish certainly stuck together when they came to America. They spoke differently, dressed differently, and acted differently. The panic over Irish immigrants subsided in the last century. We don’t notice how much the Irish changed our society now because we were born into an America that was already changed. This is exactly how it will be for future generations of Americans.

We should commit to welcoming our fellow humans as they settle and add their voices in this, the greatest nation on Earth. It is possible to secure our nation from those who would do us harm while still embracing those who come with an earnest desire to achieve their hopes. The Great American Melting Pot has always been a miracle. It will continue to be so as we hold onto the idea that our society will become stronger, sweeter, and better with each new addition.


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