Together? Yes. Seamless? No.

Together? Yes. Seamless? No.

Last week I was driving a friend to an oral surgeon to get a molar taken out. (A driver was required: How else would this zonked-out  friend get  home?) Anyhow, my friend asked me to listen in during the surgeon’s explanation of what the surgery would be, recovery times and the like. So I did, and curious person that I am, I asked a few questions.

For one thing, I saw the most amazing scan I’ve ever seen: a 3-D x-ray of the inside of my friend’s jaw. The doc could spin it around and check things out from different views. It was amazing. From all of those angles, we could see clearly that there was a dental problem: A tooth was far up inside the gum and it really had nowhere to go by way of descent. The jaw was simply a bit small.

The doc looked over at me and said, matter-of-factly, “It’ s not uncommon in America. When you think of it, the genetic pool is so diverse.” Now that did get me to thinking. He was saying that if we were all of close  heritage, our mouths would fit together better. How did I get this old and never hear about this? And, now that you mention it, I have seen people from some parts of the world who seem to have really well-placed teeth! Is that why?

The doctor was making an observation about teeth, but I was having one of those eureka moments (the vacuum was named after the moment) when something big comes into view. As we mingle and rub shoulders as a nation as diverse as ours, things will not be seamless. When people who are different from each other come together, there will be rough spots on the diamond, bumpiness on the road, moments bound to be awkward—call it what you will.

It struck me—eureka!—that this is not going to change. There is something essential about our differences. I guess I knew this, being married for many years. But still, I hadn’t thought about it being essential for our whole society. I suppose this is obvious to most everyone: We come from a broad pool. But, as the doc says, think about it!

At the end of the day, I think it’s good news. Don’t you?

Featured image: dream designs


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).