When I was a girl, text books used the term ‘melting pot’ to describe America as if everyone were thrown into one big pot and all the differences were boiled out, with America becoming just one big homogenous pot of glop. But better metaphors have popped up in the years since. Such as a salad bowl:
We don’t need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.Jane Elliot
But perhaps my favorite is Jimmy Carter’s:
We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.Jimmy Carter
I love the idea of a mosaic to define America—beauty in all the bits and pieces, each a small distinct individual unit but also a necessary part of a larger picture.
No matter how you describe it, America at its best, living up to its ideals, is stronger because of its diversity, the unique perspectives, the mix of voices, backgrounds, cultures, and traditions.