The daughter of comedian Groucho Marx was once denied admittance to an exclusive country club swimming pool with her friends because she and her family were not members. Realizing what had happened, embarrassed officials sent the Marx family an apology and an application to join. Groucho declined the invitation with the comment, “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”
Someone still tried to smooth over the incident by persuading the comedian to allow an application to be submitted for membership. The country club was embarrassed further when the application was denied. The reason? The Marx family was Jewish and the club was “restricted.”
True to form, Groucho wrote back: “My wife is not Jewish. Can she go swimming and let our daughter wade up to her waist?”
I love his use of humor, but Groucho effectively shines a spotlight on the prevalence and absurdity of prejudice. He must have felt, as did Sir Isaac Newton so many years earlier, that we build too many walls and not enough bridges.
I yearn for a time when we courageously break down those walls that divide and build wide bridges between one another. I long for a super-highway of compassion and acceptance spanning our differences to unite all humanity as one. I dream of a new millennium where people will be finally connected heart to heart and mind to mind.
And I will do my small part to make that future come true.