Interculturalism’s interesting fruits

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I have been running out of luck lately when it comes to my walkman. I keep running out of batteries at the most inopportune moments. And yet, more often than not, being able to hear what is going on around me has proven to be very interesting.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting beside a couple talking about the Arabic version of ‘O Canada’. Needless to say, that certainly tickled my fancy, and I stuck up a conversation with them. It wasn’t enough to hear about this song: as soon as I got home, I went online and found this:

I found it to be a touching ode to the Canadian version of the American Dream, of the hopes and aspirations of so many immigrants who came here looking for a better life.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. When people who are totally different from each other live in close proximity to each other, and each person is attached to their version of reality and to their own egos, conflict invariable arises in which the best of intention can turn into a public relations nightmare.

Take, for instance, the recent debate in Ontario to ‘move beyond’ the Lord’s Prayer in the legislature The Lord’s Prayer in Ontario’s Legislature

In Quebec, the question has been taking a whole new meaning with the recent public consultations on reasonable accommodation, trying to figure out how to live together amidst such differences (Site de la Commission de consultation sur les pratiques d’accomodement reliées aux différences culturelles). I watched some of the public consultations, and I was surprised how consistently, the younger generation proved itself wiser than the older generation.

I took advantage of the fact that I work right beside a university to go on campus and talk to some students about the subject. Again, I found that the younger generation doesn’t seem to bother too much with these debates like the older generation does. It seems that the pervading attitude is one of ‘do what you want, as long as I can do what I want’.

While this attitude doesn’t create the same tensions of the one adopted by so many of the older generations, it doesn’t help to solve the divide; while it fosters living in quiet and relaxed settings, it doesn’t foster unity. And this is where the issue gets thorny. The younger generation is able to live side by side even with big differences in culture and religious beliefs; how do we take this a step further and develop true unity?

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