A few weeks ago I blogged about Houston’s Stunning Diversity, sharing the numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians in Houston and sharing stories about Houston’s religious hotspots. I took you, the reader, on a virtual tour of a Vietnamese Buddhist Boddhisatva temple, a Swami Devotee Hindu Bhakti Temple and a local Muslim Masjid.
Of all the places I escorted you to, I did not take you to Houston’s Hobby Airport.
This then, is my airport addendum to that post.
Here at Hobby, waiting for my flight, checking my bags, standing in the security line and getting a coffee I am met with a microcosm of Houston’s stunning diversity.
Currently, I am on my way to California and sitting in Houston Hobby Airport’s food court . Enjoying my vanilla caramel soy latte, I am struck again by how religiously and racially diverse Houston’s populous is. It reminds me why I love this town.
Raised in California, I treasure heterogeneity and seek out cross-cultural contact. When I think about my childhood in the Los Angeles area I fondly recall having Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Evangelical and Atheist friends and neighbors.
Galavanting across the world over the last few years – in New Zealand, South Africa, Europe, Indonesia, Peru and Singapore – I’ve sought to gain a greater understanding of this world, its people and its religious soul-beat.
Now, living in Houston the world has come to me. It takes all of five minutes to find somebody who thinks, speaks and acts differently than me because of their cultural background or religious devotion. Here, in Houston Hobby, all I have to do is look to the person sitting next to me (who, by the looks of it is a Hispanic Roman Catholic replete with a rosary).
From Caucasian Khalsa Converts (Sikh) to Coptic Christians and “God Bless America” Baptist African-Americans, Houston Hobby has it all and I’ve seen all of these adherents here today.
I share this with you because I hope you may share the same awe. If you live in Houston, I encourage you to look around, open your eyes and see the stunning diversity that exists around you.
If you live somewhere else, have you noticed how melanged your hometown is? The USA is growing more diverse by the day. Maybe you live in a small town and you feel like your trapped in a homogeneous cage. Look again, and you will find pockets of religious and cultural miscellany in the most unlikely of places. Take a moment the next time you are in a public place – a mall, a post office or an airport – and recognize the mosaic that is your community. I even encourage you to go a step further and get to know someone different than you.
As I prompt my world religions students to do, take some time to introduce yourself to someone from a different religious background. Ask questions, listen to stories, share your own and dialogue with a Catholic, a Sikh, a Hasidic Jew, a Copt or a Hindu. As corny as it may sound, try sharing instead of staring.
Odds are you will come to appreciate your town for its cultural and religious multiplicity like I do. At the very least you will learn something about the world you didn’t know before.
On that note, goodbye H-Town, I look forward to seeing you again and hope to bring back some new stories from California. Until then, you stay stunningly diverse now you hear!