The Irony of Multicuturalism


We live in a multicultural world: a world where a thousand cultures bloom, where sublime music, dazzling dances, great literature, beautiful poetry, magnificent art, fascinating cosmic visions, and a thousand cultural expressions of the human spirit find expression in so many different languages.
With our sophisticated technologies, no matter where we live, we have ample opportunities for experiencing these and enriching our lives as brothers and sisters in one large human family.
But instead, our world is wrought with conflicts, confrontations and controversies, claims of superiority of one culture over another, convictions that the religion of one’s own group is the only true path to the Divine, the arrogance that one’s own nation is better than any another, and such other narrowness that might have been understandable in the immature infancy of humanity, but which today are downright ugly and preposterous, even dangerous. Sadly, it is often in this framework that people reflect on language, culture and heritage in the grand internet arena. So many keep proclaiming how proud they are to belong to this religion or that, to this country or that, speaking this language or that. The planet is infested with so many proverbial frogs in the well of Aesop’s imagination.
When people from one cultural heritage settle down in alien shores, usually for making a better living, problems become even more complex. Instead of learning and absorbing the new culture in whose midst they have chosen to arrive, and contributing to the country by sharing their own cultural richness with their new fellow-citizens, many withdraw into their linguistic and cultural  cocoons, become psychologically insecure, and crave for special recognition and identity. Some even try to impose their own ethnic baggage and religion on the nation they have adopted, some begin affirm their uniqueness and yet others engage in attacks on their hosts who are viewed as villains out to destroy their culture. Books are written, lectures given, and passions aroused with this mindset. We live in an age when tastes and distastes, respect and rancor, love and hate are effectively formed through websites, list-serves, and e-books. It is often the negatives that many choose to dwell.

As a result, multiculturalism is not a state of cultural diversity that is to be celebrated and rejoiced in, but a threat to the security and integrity of many groups.
What a sad irony!
April 28, 2014

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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