Saturday, December 27, 2008

Accommodation: Let's do Both

Last night we went to our friends' place for a little apres-Xmas get-together. As it turns out they are a mixed religion family, the husband is Jewish, the wife is not, and their house wonderfully reflected both aspects of the holiday. The fireplace mantel was decorated with menorahs--gold and silver, all sparkling in the light. Next to the fireplace, the Christmas tree occupied its own place of honor, fully decked out in ornaments and ribbons, with presents underneath. As we wandered through the house, we found more of the same: a tablecloth covered with Jewish symbols showcased a lovely buffet including pork. It felt almost as if there were twins in the room, and one was black and the other white.

In thinking about it later, I imagined that there must be many families with the same approach which is symbolic of much larger accommodation in our lives. Rather than insisting upon or instituting one way or another, one religion or the other, they simply do both and accept both--it's easy. This is an approach in our society that gained momentum in the 80's and rippled onward, and it encompasses religion and politics and race relations and all of the issues that used to be of critical, visceral importance and just aren't anymore.

I think that the accommodation led out from tolerance. Up through the 1950's and 60's families pushed their offspring to marry their own kind--both in terms of religion and race. Over time, as civil rights gained traction, more and more people came to view homogeneity as not nearly as desirable as it once was. There were too many other things more important things to worry about--and there still are.

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