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Viewpoint from Don McAllister 21/08/2015 

Don McAllister
Chairman, Interfaith & Belief Network

Dove rightI have become more troubled over the past year or so, by what may be seen as the cultural divisions that appear to exist within our borough, more especially so, since becoming Chairman of this town’s Interfaith & Belief Network.  Through this, I have perforce, become more aware of resentments felt in some quarters, over the arrival of what is, at most, only a small number of people from other countries, particularly from within the European Union
Although the question as to how this situation has arisen is no doubt a complex one, the answer (although still complex no doubt) should be rather simple - at least for people of faith, whether they be theists or otherwise.  And it is this: those who come to live in our community should be welcomed and treated as we would wish to be, should the roles be reversed.  This is the law of love and respect of neighbour; that same law which Jesus took such pains to teach and for which he gave his life
Man, generally, is a territorial animal and today, still sets out to take land that is not his own, in order to advance his own prosperity and sense of power.  Any point in recorded history will more than adequately demonstrate this; and this includes the scriptures.  Our own country, during its period of ‘Empire’, was no less guilty of such.  Naturally, as a patriot, I would boast that alongside the pillaging of others’ resources, we have also left an enduring legacy in some countries that has done nothing less but improve and advance them.  And, in return, we have been happy to adopt something of their cultures into our own
We are, perhaps, a little more cosmopolitan than we may give ourselves credit for.  We are not averse to holidaying in foreign parts (mainly for the climate no doubt) and experiencing their ways of living; their architecture, history, cuisine; the sight and sounds of their colourful markets, where we enjoy haggling with the traders over the prices we pay for the souvenirs we bring home, etc. - all these things which excite and rejuvenate us, which are such pleasant distractions from the familiarity of our lives back home
dove leftThe familiar is what we are comfortable with, and feel disconcerted when we perceive a threat to upset it.  Yet what we take to be familiar to us is but the product of an evolutionary process, one that is constantly changing and evolving to suit our present needs.  We take what is good and incorporate it into our society and adapt to small changes with relative ease. The recent Culture event held at the library, very nicely demonstrated people’s interest.  Such events along with the work of the Greater Yarmouth Interfaith & Belief Network both help to showcase the diversity in culture and faith that now exists within the town, and to increase understanding of both, and so allay unnecessary fears regarding the impact they may have on us.  They show that diversity is not a bad thing, that it can actually enhance our own enjoyment of life
Jesus said that whatever we do, be it good or bad, we do it to him also.  Let it be good that we do, for the sake of the new citizens in our borough, as well as for ourselves