Tuesday, October 10, 2006

multi-cultural mess

About 7 years ago we did an exchange with a church in Leicester, England, a place that calls itself the heart of multi-cultural England. I was surprised at how multi-cultural Great Britain is. Leicester has very large populations of Pakistani and Indian folk (and some of the best Indian food I've ever eaten!). As we traveled around we saw road signs in Welsh in Wales, stayed with a family in Scotland whose children went to a school where instruction took place in Gailic, and on another trip we visited a church in London where the small congregation included people who spoke 22 different languages. We saw a picture not only of diversity but of a culture that was working to celebrate that diversity. It was wonderful!

Then this week I saw a news article reporting that some British government officials are calling to bar Muslim women from wearing their veils as it emphasizes their differences and one of the government officials said that he feels uncomfortable talking to someone whose face he cannot see.

I was aghast. This came the same day as an interfaith event here in Santa Barbara where Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish speakers shared some of their faith and spoke of their dreams that we can learn to live and work together for a more civil society. Yes, there are differences and the veil makes them obvious. They need not keep us apart though. And to the government official who feels uncomfortable... get over it.

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