Bonnie Corbeil's commentary on "Together We Can" struck a chord with me. I grew up moving all over the country, including Japan, because my father was in the U.S. Army. Until I was in sixth grade, I knew nothing about we-them thinking. When children meet in military elementary schools, they know they won't be there more than two or three years. They make friends quickly and are eager to learn from each other about places where others have lived. In sixth grade, I was in a small city where no military children were in my grade. It was a shock to me. Outsiders were viewed as suspect, even the teacher pandered to the children of the movers and shakers of the community. Unfortunately, that was my introduction to what adults everywhere, not just the U.S. Virgin Islands, tended to do. They stuck to themselves, feared people from elsewhere, even if it were the next county, let alone the next state (or island).
I guess, therefore, I should not have been shocked that a we-they mentality exists here. Optimist that I am, I really thought that a community which is as diverse as ours in the Virgin Islands wouldn't be like that. I still find it difficult to understand this narrow mindedness. Whenever I meet an adult who grew up in the military, we bond before we find out that we have that in common. It is just that we learned from childhood to reach out to others regardless of their backgrounds.
In this century, more than ever before, we need to lean on each other regardless of pedigree. We live in a global community, for goodness sake. No single ethnic group, no single sex, no single religious group has all the answers. Together, we can find them. So, Virgin Islands, let's think more broadly and inclusively. To me that's what "Together We Can" means–not only our survival but our progress.
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