Cathy’s early life…moving from one location to the next…taught her a tolerance she might not have otherwise learned. The different cultures she experienced in each location gave Cathy an opportunity to broaden her view of people. The more she learned, the more she realized how similar we all really are. She learned that the same things that she needed for a good life were the same things other people in other cultures needed too. Those life lessons are the basis of her essay for this program. Here’s Cathy Mergele with her essay for KUHF’s This I Believe.
“I believe we are all more alike than we are different.
I grew up with a father who was a Chaplain in the Army and a mom who taught school everywhere we lived. I thought nothing of going to school with people of different races and with different beliefs. They were welcome in my home, as well. On the other hand, my grandmother wasn’t so enlightened. She used the N-word to refer to blacks. I had conversations with her about the inherent characteristics of race, and her ideas were beyond stereotypical. I simply could not fathom her position and so our conversations turned to other things we had in common, dropping any references to race. From her I saw the reality of prejudice while living in a home of acceptance.
Because my dad might be the only Chaplain at the post, he was responsible for ministering to people of any faith. I played the organ for the Catholic services and attended many services of other religions. But since my dad was ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention, we also attended a Southern Baptist church if one was available. I saw both the homogeneous nature of faith as well as the fractional divisiveness. I do not currently ally myself with any organized religion. I prefer to look at faith itself as a religion, and, therefore, an idea that many of us have in common.
My family and I have lived in New York City, Anchorage, Alaska and Gaeta, Italy. I have traveled throughout Europe, Greece, North and Central America, Japan and Israel. Wherever we were, we took advantage of discovering the local culture and mingling with the people, learning about religion and customs of other peoples. Because my family embraced difference, I find myself regarding all races and religions as simply other views of the same world.
Since 9/11 and with all the discussion of immigration, I have resisted the inclination to group people together. I want to see each person as an individual but with the same needs that I have: a safe place to live, enough food and clean water, and access to education. I try to remember that these desires transcend political and religious ideals, and I believe they can be accomplished because we are more alike than we are different.”