Although the USA is increasingly becoming multi-cultural, culture often tricks us to continue in relating to people who we are more similar culturally than those who are culturally different.
To illustrate, in 1957, Alicia Iwanska, a Polish anthropologist, wrote a paper entitled “Some American Values” for the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Chicago. She described her observations upon an American farming community and then made some generalizations. She said that for the farmers on the large Western farms the universe was divided into three categories.
- Landscape – included the distant mountains, the trees, the scenery, the environment of the farmers. The farmers looked at it, they enjoyed it in a disinterested sort of way. It had no high emotional content for the farmers. Strangely enough included in the landscape were also the American Indians because one could look on them with curiosity yet never actually engage them socially.
- Machinery – included the farmer’s machinery. They polished their machinery, the cared for it, and it had high value to them in that they rated it in terms of its productivity. Strangely enough included in the machinery for the farmers were the Mexican migrant workers because their value lay in their productivity.
- People – included the farmer’s neighbors, people who were like themselves. They were people that the farmers grew up with and died with.
We can easily make the same value judgments. We could easily look upon some people as landscape and others as machinery. Basically, living within our mono-cultural environments, we could let the new wave of migrations pass us by without ever realizing that they are mere landscape and machinery. So, what of our homeland . . .
The nations next door to us are often invisible to us. Why is this so? It is cause we fail to embrace God’s plan for them, encounter them day to day, and engage them with a vocal gospel witness.