For most of human history, most people have lived among people who are pretty much the same as themselves. The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks pointed out that to walk down the average main street in most places in Europe and North America means to encounter more anthropological diversity than an 18th-century traveler would encounter in a lifetime.
For some, this is exciting and rich and stimulating. For many others, though, it is threatening. The commandment mentioned more often than any other in Torah is the one that says “welcome the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” In other words, love the stranger, because to that person you are the stranger.
This sense that we are enlarged by the people who are different from us — that we are not threatened by them — needs cultivating. To be enlarged in this way would lead us to see the 21st century as full of blessing, not full of fear.
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