Migration, terrorism and
Many people don’t even consider migrants as part of the
mainstream of any society unless, of course, their behaviour is different. Then
they see them as a problem or as terrorists. This is the new problem that the
culturally diverse societies around the world are confronting.
It is a real challenge. How the new “multiculturalism
formula” will have to be effective to be able to keep societies together and in
harmony. The level of tolerance that our leaders often talk about will have to
have a high level of trust and respect shared by the ones who welcome and by
those who arrive.
To do that, it will require demonstrations of commitment
and loyalty from those who are arriving in the nations that welcome them.
Equally those societies which are the receiving ones, need to make the effort to
ensure these new immigrants can have adequate support to enable them to become
an integral part of their new country. Also, for them to contribute actively and
effectively to strengthen their multicultural way of life, by adding to it from
their cultural richness, and avoiding that the negative aspects of their places
of origin do not affect their new country and their new lives.
Freedom of speech, liberty and human rights, cultural
rights, inclusion and diversity will need to be RE-ARTICULATED extremely
quickly. In particular, an outspoken “ethnic” voice needs to be publicly
listened to by the “mainstream” community in every society. It is the mainstream
society, which is in urgent need to know and understand that multiculturalism is
a policy for the whole society to adopt; it is not an ethnic minority policy. It
will be important to understand clearly that, the IMMIGRATION POLICIES AND
POPULATION MANAGEMENT POLICIES FOR A SOCIETY are not “Multiculturalism”.
Otherwise, people will end with very narrow and reductionist views which, in the
end, will only increase the levels of danger, creating a dysfunctional society.
The world has changed and continues to change. So, for
many of us who are members of any culturally diverse society, it is important to
know that we are affected by these changes. That unless we realise this, and
overcome the attitudes and positions of fear and insecurity, with a radically
different attitude, other than being in our little corners of ethnicity, things
will not work well for multicultural societies. It is in these multicultural
societies that the very extremist minorities may gain strength, and find a place
in mainstream if there is not a reaction soon.
So, for those who are the experts or who study cultural
changes in society, for those who are the managers of the complexity of cultural
diversity and its harmony, it poses a challenging moment in history. They have
the responsibility to provide leadership and direction. As well they need to
give reassurance and a reasonable level of warranty to the societies, in order
that they understand that in a globalised world where people are very mobile,
multiculturalism is the best way to live for a safe, peaceful and harmonious
I do not see any evidence yet of people thinking that the
present challenges regarding "terrorism", yes, it needs to be named, give the
opportunity to societies to be able to demonstrate that cultural diversity is an
asset and not a liability, when it comes to ensuring safety, peace and harmony
for their countries.
The leaders are required not only to keep RE-ACTING TO the
already weak environment for multiculturalism. They need to reconstruct it in a
more dynamic and tangible way. New ideas are required. New commitments must be
articulated. New visible demonstrations of participation of diversity should be
included in mainstream events. Multiculturalism, as an ethnic management tool,
has its own validity only if the immigrants are given the space and opportunity
to share their cultural richness. Also, for the rest of us in society, we need
to make an effort to accept and incorporate that richness into the always
changing dynamics of cultural diverse communities. Therefore, as a society
formula, MULTCULTURALISM is demanding to become MAINSTREAM.
This does not mean to become monocultural, on the
contrary, the values and richness of the cultural diverse societies demand from
all its members to fully support its multicultural way of life. In order to
achieve peace, harmony and safety, and for all of us to feel secure among those
with whom we share and live. A change of attitude and behaviour is demanded of
all of us. We need to value each person equally, regardless of race, creed,
ethnic background or political affiliation. To respect and embrace their
differences as part of the overall, non optional formula for all multicultural
To be successful in achieving the above mentioned, a
genuine commitment to shared values must be included in their people's way of
life, to constantly strengthen relationships among their people. This will only
assist to eradicate those positions of individuals who have radical and
threatening attitudes towards our cultural diversity. It will ensure that all of
us live in peace and harmony, and will enjoy safety in all societies where we
value each human person who is willing to contribute in a positive way to the
betterment of our nation and the rest of humanity.
Jose, fomer director of the Centre for
Multicultural Pastoral Care in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, is a Consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People which involves working in the area of people on the move. He has travelled extensively in this capacity.
He is also the International Co-ordinator of Always People, a non-profit organisation whose aim is to promote multiculturalism and increased good relations among people of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds to enable them to become integrated and active participants in their local communities. It is non-denominational and works across all faiths and the wider society. Another focus of the work of Always People is on educational, health and development projects with new emerging communities locally and overseas. Jose is at present working in a voluntary capacity with Always People in Asia.