Migration, terrorism and multiculturalism
CLICK HEREMany 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 environment.
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 societies.
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 Zepeda
August 2005
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.