“Diversity Is Our Strength.”
In Easton, it's more than a motto.
A recent comment on this site that referred to “God's plan” criticized the city's move to create a more equal benefits situation for all its employees by including a provision for committed same-sex couples, implying this change would somehow create an unsafe or unfriendly environment for “families.”
It's pretty obvious to me this person doesn't live in Easton, or if they do, they are totally out of step with what the spirit of our city is really about.
“Diversity is our strength” may be a motto of the Rover Nation, but this is actually a reflection of the feeling of the community at large, Easton passing a cherished value on to its children. If we didn't believe it, we wouldn't go to the trouble of instilling this idea from very early on in our young people.
You see, if you look around Easton, you'll find quickly that we're a little different.
The majority of people today live in artificial, newly created neighborhoods—suburban developments, condo complexes and the like. Since these dwellings are all nearly identical to each other, their cost and size are also identical, and therefore, these neighborhoods are inhabited by people that all of the same similar demographic and taste.
That encourages people to live pretty much only with people like themselves, a phenomenon that is only a few decades old, post-WWII.
The weakness in this is that, since one's neighborhood is one's everyday world, 'everyone' is pretty much the same, and 'anyone else' is not really worthy of much consideration. People either 'belong' in that neighborhood or they don't. Too little money, a different lifestyle or color skin, not dressed well-enough, or too well—it sticks out.
This isn't the case so much in Easton.
Here, people of every economic class, cultural background and ethnicity live in close proximity and interact daily. People have some idea of the realities of others' lives and are even likely to know one another, or be friends. They may even have attended school and grown up together.
At the same time, newcomers are welcomed—Easton has always had a diverse mix of citizens, and been populated by immigrants from all over the world since its inception. A good portion of those people stay, historically, for generations. They know a good thing when they see it.
The mix of housing types, not seen in modern neighborhood planning, creates a community in which there is a place for everyone. That also means people of various lifestyles and at various stages of life, those who are single or married, have kids or don't, the young and the retired, also interact and live together.
Easton families encompass all descriptions and the definition of 'family' is better left self-described in most cases anyway. Who's to say who is or is not another person's 'family' anyway?
Is a married couple without children any more or less a family than an unmarried one with six kids? Are two widowed retirees who are sisters, sharing a household 'til the end of their days a family? A good portion of children today are being brought up by a grandparent—does a single grandparent and a teenager qualify?
As for “God's plan,” well, I'd have to say a good number of Eastonians contemplate their place in it quite a bit—there are no less than 58 churches in Easton and the immediate area.
Of course, being Easton, they're pretty diverse too. That's to be expected.
If He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-knowing in his wisdom, then it follows that He is in every one of those churches.
And knew exactly what He was doing when he created each and every one of us, unique and diverse as humans come.
The 'plan'? To learn to live in understanding and tolerance. To fully be who we were created to be. Anything less would be an insult.
Easton is a bright, progressive city that welcomes people that wish to live in harmony with their neighbors. We don't always achieve it immediately, and we're not perfect, but we're moving in the right direction.
We've been that way ever since before George Taylor signed the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming 'that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness .”
Eastonians of the time were some of the first to defend those rights then, and I'm personally proud to see the city being among the first in the state to defend equal rights for all now.
Folks who can't tolerate that should probably go elsewhere. I'm happy to say, I don't think it's going to change any time soon.
Christina Georgiou lives in Downtown Easton on a typical block that is home to people of no less than seven distinct cultures, including Haitian, Jamaican, African-American, Mexican, Lebanese, Greek and Irish. No doubt, her neighbors also lead many different lifestyles such as their circumstances, backgrounds and preferences dictate, of which she does not inquire, but suspects, someone, somewhere, would find reason not to approve.