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Diversity Salad or Stew Pot?

If the melting pot image no longer expresses what we hope our culture would represent, what metaphor does? Many people have begun to speak of America as a diversity salad. David C. Stolinsky examines this image and suggests that while it is an attractive image, it is somewhat simplistic.

The idea is that bits of lettuce, celery, carrot and other ingredients retain all their individual flavor and color, yet are combined in an appetizing dish. It implies that all one has to do is throw ingredients of any description into a bowl. There is no requirement that the ingredients be compatible, that they be in any proportion or that they be healthful. Indeed, the salad need not even be ... thoroughly mixed. One merely dumps the ingredients in the bowl and forgets them.

Stolinsky suggests that the best analogy for America may be the stew pot. In the stew pot, the cook adds meat, potato and other ingredients with a sense of proportion. As the stew is heated, the flavors meld. In a stew, each ingredient retains many of its original characteristics, but it also takes on the flavors of other ingredients. The result is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Stolinsky suggest that as new ingredients are added to the pot, their flavors are blended with the rest of the stew. The stew needs continual attention.

—Adapted from I Dream of A School: Mission Study on Public Education by Martha Bettis Gee. (General Board of Global Ministry, The United Methodist Church, 2004)

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