There’s been a great deal of bigotry spewed this presidential season and we still have months to go. I find it sad that as a nation we are attracting politicians who are pandering to the scared xenophobes rather than the principles that truly made this country great.

Listening to the sound bites of anger and ignorance I am at once shocked, but also saddened by the loss of human connection that is clearly present. I realize that if I lived in a more homogenous society, where everyone looked like me, and acted like me, I’d be prone to the same bigotries. I was as a child.

When I sit in court listening to people fight over their children, I’m often amazed at what some people consider to be a proper upbringing; but as a divorce and child custody lawyer, it’s not my job to judge, but to advocate.

Today, as an adult who has traveled the world some and has met many different types of people, I have learned that there are many different ways to live in this world, and my way is not necessarily the correct way.

This point was really driven home to me this past Sunday as I was having a bowling party with the Westside Toastamasters. We met up at the Bowl-Mor Lanes on Pico for a night of socializing that was not centered on public speaking. Toastmasters is a club for people who want to improve their public speaking skills. Generally they are people who are outgoing but have a fear about their abilities, so they come to a safe space to improve.

Our club is like a mini-United Nations. We have members from all over the world, from Peru to China, and all points in between. We have youngsters and oldsters, there are professional speakers and people who are just trying to squeak out their first words. It has been without a doubt a wonderful cross-cultural experience. I have had the opportunity to learn about Persian history and how to floss my teeth properly. Because we each get to pick our speech topics, we get to divulge a bit of who we are and what interests us.

As a result of this, I’ve learned to be more open and to observe with less judgment. So this Sunday when we were bowling I observed the other groups that were bowling. On one side of us were three young men of Middle Eastern descent, all about 25 and still engaging in that horseplay that young men do. On the other side of us were an Orthodox Jewish father and son, the son was about five and he did something truly awesome. There was one pin left to knock down and he had his dad hold the bowling ball, and then he kicked it, which looked painful, but the ball bounced its way down the lane off the gutter guards and managed to take out the lone pin! It was truly awesome to see.

The other groups were a Muslim family, a group of twenty-somethings, another Muslim family, and finally a family with a herd of kids. The diversity was interesting to note not just in our group, which had three black guys, three Asians, and four white guys, but in the room as a whole. Here there were different religions and ages, family groups and social groups and not a single cross word was exchanged between us. I had a few for my poor bowling skills, but they weren’t directed to others.

I know that living in the southland we’re lucky to have the diversity we do, it makes all of us better people and no one has to tell anyone how to live. I would hope that this is in fact the future for our country. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of hatred and bigotry and xenophobia, but that doesn’t actually improve anyone’s life, in fact it diminishes everyone’s life.

I’m glad for the social lessons I’ve learned in Toastmasters, travelling the world and in getting to know the various cultures that make up Los Angeles; I hope that we can export that experience to the rest of our country this next presidential election season.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.

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