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Viewpoint - Revd. Canon Michael Woods

Viewpoint February 15th 2008
Revd. Canon Michael Woods
Team Rector, Great Yarmouth Parish.
As people migrate across the world in many different ways and as the internet and the media brinviewpoints cross logo jpegg people closer it has the same effect as those earth movements that bring about earthquakes and tsunamis. Misunderstanding spills over into anger and anger into suspicion. Instead of getting to know each other the reverse happens so that lines are drawn to separate people.
Multiculturalism describes a view that the problems created by this collision between different cultures in our modern world can be solved by mutual respect for each culture by another.
I suspect, however, that it has all gone wrong. Multiculturalism itself has been misunderstood. It has been made to mean that all cultures are equal and simply different expressions of the same thing. Schools teach a little bit of every religion. No one is allowed to criticise anyone else’s culture except their own. Offences to other cultures by one culture are thought up by those who have no commitment to anything except to have no commitment. The most dangerous result is that more and more people know less and less about their own culture for fear that it induces prejudice.
The flaw in this idea can be illustrated in terms of oil painting. It is as if an artist has been asked to put all the colours on the palette into one tub, mix them together until they reach an even colour, and then try to paint an interesting picture with the result.
Life is made more interesting, livelier, more surprising, more colourful when different cultures express themselves in all their uninhibited glory. People steeped deeply in their own culture enjoy other’s culture more. People who understand their own faith more deeply, are more deeply appreciative of others. A culture can make its best contribution to the human condition when it is strong and not watered down to fit in with everyone else’s.
Multiculturalism needs to mean mutual respect and delight in each other’s ways and traditions properly understood and expressed. After all no one wants their king prawn bhuna served on pasta with gravy and a yorkshire pudding.