Culture: Living in the Salad Bowl

The Golden Rule does not suffice for such a culture. It works well if we are all the same. If we are identical, then you will be happy for me to treated you as I want to be treated. If we are different, for me to use myself as my primary guide to understanding you and your needs is to overlook all our separate journeys and perspectives. To do so also carries the implication that if you are not like me, you should be. 

Instead, a radically accepting and inclusive culture needs what has been called the platinum rule: treat others as they would want to be treated. And this rule is by far the harder one - it is the rule that leads us to connect and learn and understand and grow together.

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Multiculturalism out there and in here

The other kind of multiculturalism is about inclusion. It’s the opposite of enforced sameness.
It’s about making room for people whose cultures are different from the dominant culture of the nation. It’s about acceptance - accepting people as they are. And this, I think, is at the heart of what multiculturalism must mean - whether in a nation or a congregation. Wherever we come from, whoever we are, we are accepted as we are. We are not doused in preservative so we never change or isolated in our little impervious corners - we know that interchange between cultures will make us all the richer - in nations or in congregations.

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Hiroshima & Nagasaki - Culture can kill

Culture matters. When we consider whether we will have a world of conflict or a world of peace, there are many factors, but culture matters.  If we want to live in a world where all human life is valued equally - culture matters.  

When we consider how we treat others in times of disagreement or conflict - whether we will try to understand or lash out - whether we are ready to forgive or seek vengeance - culture matters. Culture is not the only thing that matters, but it is part of the picture. For good and for ill, for peace and for conflict, we are shaped by all our experiences. But culture is a special kind of experience and influence. It is like the air we breathe - it is invisible and it is everywhere. It influences us without our noticing. It is part of us whether we recognise it or not. And if we don’t recognise it is there, culture has more power over us.

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Whose Culture?

The dominant culture of a community tends to be invisible to many of its members. It is invisible especially to the people whose personal cultural norms fit. They don’t feel any disconnect or clash with their values or ways of being, so they don’t see there is a culture at all.

The future of New Unity depends on us asking ourselves hard and perhaps uncomfortable questions about who we are, who we are for, what we want to achieve, and who we are willing to leave out.

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My Muslim Culture

Two days ago, I learned that Abdul Sattar Edhi had died at the age of 88. If you don’t know who he is, I strongly urge you to find out more about him. Edhi spent close to six decades singlehandedly building Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation, and to date his foundation has saved and improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of the country’s most vulnerable citizens through his ambulance service, nursing homes, orphanages, clinics, maternity wards, morgues, homes for the elderly, women's shelters, rehabilitation centres and soup kitchens... for all my narcissistic talk on identity politics and the mechanics of assimilation in my own experience, I bring this up because Edhi’s example is the answer I’d like to give to the question of what my Islam is; selfless, defiant and compassionate. (QS)

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Got Culture

Got Culture

We have a culture. Some of us fit into the culture perfectly - so much so that we may not notice it exists. Others find they have to contort themselves a bit or a lot tofit. Some of you may feel you need to put on a particular mask when you come here. You may sense that you need to put aside their own cultural norms to conform to “the way we do things around here”?

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just is, but it is important that we are aware of it. It’s important that we examine the part of our culture that lies beneath the surface and understand the impact of that culture.

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