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LIFE ISSUES

Well, I don't think I am.

Then again, maybe I am?  I don't want to be. I do know that whatever definition of "racism" or "racist" you accept, it carries very negative connotations. No one wants to be labeled as a racist but I am willing to run that risk when I say that I have some real problems with the emphasis on multiculturalism as it is promoted today. It just doesn't seem to be working.

The daily news reports (and they are 'daily') about cross-cultural tensions and outbreaks of violence in our society cause me great concern. And these dynamics are not unique to our country. Just recently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, speaking at a conference in Munich, acknowledged that the doctrine of multiculturalism has encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream culture. Because of those who reject Western values multiculturalism has failed.

I think it is fair to say that Mr. Cameron realizes that Britain cannot afford to ignore the growing and competing cultures within its own borders. It's that word, "competing", that is a key to understanding the nature of the problem.

Another example of this awareness in Europe is found in Germany. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is also on record as calling multiculturalism a failure saying that Germany had not devoted enough attention to the integration of immigrants.

It has only been in recent times that I have found myself having to think more seriously about these issues. So I'm hardly an authority on the subject but here's where my current thinking is at - for whatever it's worth. I am increasingly convinced of this principle:

Cultures are determined by values and values are determined by beliefs.

Where two or more people groups share a similar set of values or their values are (at least) compatible, then there exists a basis for their respective cultures to co-exist and, even better, to enrich each other. However, where beliefs and values are in conflict, so will be the relationship between those two or more groups. As I try to analyze the conflicted situations that seem to be increasingly part of our "multicultural society" here in Australia, it seems to me that they are the product of conflicting values.

For example, one group may hold to the belief that all people are equal and that women, therefore, are equal in value and status as men. Another group may believe that men are superior to women. Conflict between the two groups is inevitable. Their beliefs and values are so incompatible that to try and meld both groups makes a disaster waiting to happen.

No matter how well intentioned and 'tolerant' we may seek to be in our attempts to promote the benefits of multiculturalism, if one or more groups hold to beliefs and values that are mutually unacceptable and even actively resisted, conflict is inevitable.

The idea that all cultures can happily co-exist, regardless of different beliefs and values, is nonsense.

This reality has enormous implications for the immigration policy of every country that seeks to practice multiculturalism. The question becomes who should be accepted and can they be happily assimilated into the prevailing or mainstream culture of the receiving country? Or do their beliefs and values mean that assimilation is something that is foolish to pursue?

Chuck Colson writes, "For a society to survive, it has to have one culture - a culture that enjoys the participation and contributions of all its people".

One culture? Is Colson advocating mono-culturalism as against multi-culturalism? Any form of multiculturalism that allows and/or encourages conflicting ideologies and values to try and peacefully co-exist is inviting division, stand-offs and ultimately open conflict.

The receiving country (in our case, Australia) must make its values clear so that those who want to come to this country understand and accept those values that define our culture. This is not to suggest that our beliefs and values, traditions and practices are superior or that we are superior. Rather it is to acknowledge that our respective values are different. If they are different to the point where they are incompatible then any attempt to "marry" them must ultimately lead to marital breakdown and a bitter divorce.

Am I a racist?I think not. If racism involves hatred or intolerance towards another race or other races, then I can announce with confidence that I am not a racist.

But if racism involves a willingness to challenge and resist certain beliefs, values and practices of another culture because they are not only different to mine (that's OK) but are divisive and destructive (that's not OK), then maybe I am a racist.

But what does all this mean from a Christian perspective? That will have to wait for mt next post.

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