The topics of critical race theory and diversity have exploded in the public arena, causing further divide in our society between conservatives and liberals. I am not here to justify either point of view. As an immigrant, I just want to share my experience of our rich diversity.
We are indeed a divided country. But as a people, I am amazed at the ability of so many Americans to find ways of coming together. The diversity of America is what has always made it a “promised land” for so many. I want to share a positive reminder of the best this great nation can be.
Originally from India, I lived in the United States for more than 32 years. What I have always found fascinating is that most people could care less about another person’s background, race or religion. The beauty of this country is that everyone is judged as an individual who has something of value to contribute to society.
My health journey bears out this truth. Five-and-a-half years ago, I had a massive stroke that changed my life. As I reflect on my life since that day, I am struck by joy in remembering the diversity of friends, caregivers and colleagues who aided in my recovery and saved my life. They were of different races, ethnicities and religions, and many were immigrants. And each of them tirelessly helped me keep going and recover. Coming together for the greater good, this is the real America. This is the country I am proud to call home.
How is this for a microcosm of America?
- My neurosurgeon was an Indian American.
- My intensive care unit doctor was from Slovenia.
- My rehab doctor and psychologist were white and born here.
- My internist was from Thailand.
- My neurologists included an Indian, an African American and an Iranian.
- My physiatrist was a Latina.
Racism and discrimination continue to be problems in America, but it is not too far gone. This country was built on people standing up for what they believe in and righting wrongs that may date back hundreds of years. No matter what the current challenges are, as an immigrant and a minority, I can say for the most part that America has lived up to its ideals of liberty, equality, justice and fairness for all.
America is not perfect, but it has come a long way. Americans will continue to make progress, no matter how slow or frustrating it may be. In an age in which stories of racism and bigotry grab headlines, there also will always be stories of humanity that go beyond ethnicities, politics and nations.
The protests in 2020 were an incredible demonstration of people standing together to combat racial injustice. In many places, those peaceful protests have already had an impact on laws. I am not sure we recognize how rare it is to have such freedom. We still have a long way to go, but from the perspective of someone who has spent many years of his life in other countries, trust me when I say the United States still represents a beacon of hope to the rest of the world.
In these times of extreme political and social divide, Americans should remember that the true strength of this nation does not rest on military might or economic prowess. It comes from the people. I am blessed to have experienced the absolute best of this country, and I know I am not alone.
America is mostly full of honest, generous and kind people, and that can and should always be this nation’s legacy. Humanity wins, no matter the challenges.
This is the real America. This is us.
Bhide lived in the United States for more than three decades before moving back recently to his native India for health reasons. Bhide grew up in Mumbai where he completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting and then moved to the U.S. as an international student, completing a bachelor’s in management and an MBA. He worked for global companies for more than two decades: @sameer_author. He wrote this for The Chicago Tribune.