I don't have a specific question, but I just think this passage from a two page essay
published in 1891 on the value of cultural exchange called
"Cosmopolitanism and Culture" is striking:
"Taking an impartial view of the whole subject, we can hardly doubt that
in becoming more cosmopolitan we gain more in every respect than we lose by
the change. The process is not unlike the development of boys and girls into
men and women. Looking back at childhood's days, our view is often affected
by the glamour of the past, and we see them in a rose-colored light; yet if we
could become children again we should find the pettiness and the narrow limits
of a child's life intolerable. It is natural to regret the dying out of time-honored
customs and the loss of old associations, and to find whatever takes their places
incongruous and unattractive. But their extinction means that kind of progress
without which life would be mere vegetation, and the sacrifice we make in
giving them up is an unqualifiedly wholesome one. Controlling our unreasonable
prejudices in such matters, we can learn to think with calmness even of
Thackeray's prospective steamboatmen in Palestine shouting, with strident
Ease her! Stop her!
Passengers for Joppa!
In the United States this outgrowing of old-fashioned and narrow ideas
ought to be easier than it is anywhere else. Our population is made up of so
many different national elements that we may familiarize ourselves with a great
variety of such types without going beyond our own borders. Many of our
foreign-born citizens are quite as American in feeling as any native of the
country, and in that respect their descendants seldom differ at all from the rest
of the people. Still, they both necessarily retain some of the characteristics of
their original stocks, and both have helped to carry out the work which was
begun by the diversity of the colonial populations. In the natural order of
things we Americans ought to be the most cosmopolitan people in the world."
It reminds me of our current debates on how open or closed we should be as
a society: whether in terms of economic policy, immigration, cultural exchange, etc.
These texts can still speak to our modern issues even after over a hundred years.