Saturday Forum - Identity and Multiculturalism

Our next meeting in our Saturday Forum on Identity and Belonging will be a discussion around Identity and Multiculturalism and will follow on the discussion of the last meeting..

The Saturday Forum provides space for dialogue around issues of identity, where people can engage with each other in an exchange of ideas, points of view and personal experiences. Our purpose is not to decide who is right and who is wrong, but rather to move forward together in a more nuanced understanding of complex issues.

Among the big questions of the 21st century are those around identity. How do we decide who we are and who we want to be? In a complex world we belong to multiple communities and take on multiple roles, identity can be difficult and we are can so easily become lost.

Multiculturalism - a deeper look

Last month we started a conversation on multiculturalism which – inevitably – barely scratched the surface. It was felt that we wanted the opportunity to continue the discussion and take things a little further and deeper. You are welcome to this session, whether or not you attended the previous one.

One issue that was of particular interest to many in October's meeting was the question of multiculturalism vs. homogeneity. To what extent do we celebrate difference and diversity? To what extent is social cohesion enhanced by assimilation - a blending of what all of us have to offer - to make one British culture?

Our time together will begin with an opportunity to define the two approaches and then we will have time in small groups to share our personal experiences of how multiculturalism has impacted us.

We’ll come together again as a whole group to discuss questions such as:

What should we be aiming for: assimilation or acceptance and celebration of differences?Should government policies be designed to help support distinct cultural communities?

Do join us for what we know will prove to be yet another stimulating and enlightening Saturday Forum.

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  • Iain M.

    Having had a little time to think - the 'one word' I would have chosen (after choosing to pass the buck to Jazz) would have been "profound".

    1 · December 2, 2013

  • Iain M.

    A broadcast message to all:
    This software has the potential to be as much annoying as I find facebook to be so let me just say that it was "good to see you" all and I "like" all your comments.
    I found myself being a little trigger happy and now my inbox is rammed with notifications that I could do without. My own fault. Hence this one off message to all and see you next time.

    If anyone cant assist me...
    My "surfing" abilities are poor - thank you
    I'm struggling to find the Playback Theatre occurring in Newington Green on[masked] mentioned by Beata Somogyi - who doesn't appear to be contactable via the attendee list. I've found some PT sites but not sure if I have the right one

    December 1, 2013

  • Piercarla

    Thank you for the very interesting meeting. I would like to invite you to be part of a project I am working on.

    It is called THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU CAMPAIGN and it is about ending the wrongness on the Planet.

    You can find all info on http://pgcoaching.co.uk/NothingWrongCampaign.html. If you wish to help me, please let me know.

    Thanks!

    1 · November 30, 2013

  • Iain M.

    ...
    And then again - I think there has been improvement particularly in the last 10/20 years with the birth of the internet and greater worldwide communication and sharing of knowledge and ideas - but it's soooooooo slow, it's sad.
    Forums such as this are a dot on the landscape of progress but without them, there is nothing - has to start somewhere.
    I feel quite alone in my views and I'm curious to see if that changes by attending this meetup.
    The human race has a such a lot of evolving still to do. We are millions of years behind bees - ??? I'm just a big fan of them!
    If anyone is still on the same page as me - I'll be overjoyed but not surprised at all if not.

    November 29, 2013

    • Iain M.

      correction - I have you now - chatting to reporter in high st. check!

      November 30, 2013

    • Iain M.

      but where were you?

      November 30, 2013

  • dave p.

    Very moving intriguing session with numerous poignant moments, vulnerability and authentic sharing. Feel there is an untapped potential in this space that could be even more uplifting and humane

    2 · November 30, 2013

  • Iain M.

    Very inspiring and I look forward to meeting you all again.

    3 · November 30, 2013

  • Monique

    So glad I attended the forum. I found the group friendly and welcoming with many diverse and thought provoking opinions.

    2 · November 30, 2013

  • Nick S.

    Well led by Andy - enough leadership, but not too much!

    2 · November 30, 2013

  • Andrew

    Hi all! What a wonderful session we had today. I left it really inspired by all the honest sharing, intelligent thinking, and compassionate attitudes in the room. Thank you all so much for making it such a powerful experience!

    3 · November 30, 2013

  • Neil M.

    The human instinct in life is to communicate. When we fail to do this in a supportive way we tend to lose touch with our own direction both individually and collectively as a people. There needs to be willingness and a proactive desire or instinct to keep us wanting to communicate. I do not believe that the sole instinctive purpose of communication is based on business or making money for profit off one another. To me it is about the need to understand each other but we sometimes do this through less productive ways. But ideally it is about building workable relationships that hopefully become meaningful. 1/2

    1 · November 30, 2013

    • Neil M.

      Yet whatever our expressions as human beings on this Living Planet, for us to survive as a diverse race of people let us do so not for power, control, division and hatred. It is far better to work towards hope, creation, understanding, empathy, love and compassion through our communication. I hope it will be the latter that will guide us in the course of history for when we leave we will leave a legacy for our children and the next generation/s. Let us not leave this burden of a broken, damaged society and world on their shoulders. The work towards peaceful and meaningful co-existence starts here and now. Thank you everyone, let us have learnt something in these discussions. We may not have all the right answers but we have at least taken the first step towards trying to understand. Good Luck to everyone in today's meeting.

      2 · November 30, 2013

  • Iain M.

    I have what I call, a catch 22 opinion.
    Cultures don't mix and won't successfully do so within my lifetime - that I'm sure of. There is a high level of pretence that they do, but they don't.
    However, without mixing and evolving to all get along with each other together on our planet, the human race is doomed.
    To have such an opinion seems to be nothing less than being a racist these days. Being of mixed origin, I would say that's impossible.
    And without it, I wouldn't exist!?!?!?!
    The mixing of cultures means amongst other things, but most importantly, the mixing of religions - with the vast majority of the worlds population believing in some form or other of God - what hope????
    over the character limit.....

    November 29, 2013

  • Nick S.

    There are two fascinating comments below. A friend of mine once said that when she was world president (ha ha), she would make everybody live for a year in a different culture. Krishna (below) obviously has; Tom (also below) possibly has not (I'm guessing). I lived in Mexico for 30 years. I am feeling quite optimistic, Tom, because I see evidence at the level of ordinary people that, especially in the workplace, people are learning to live together. My son works in a room full of Indians, Chinese and so on; they share the fact that they are all good at systems development; they also play squash and drink together. Yesterday in Tescos I saw two employees struggling to understand each other; one from the Middle East, the other from East Asia. They were struggling, but they were LAUGHING. They were having a good time together. The Anglo-Saxons are not good at this (too long being the bosses everywhere), but in my lifetime I am sure we have improved. So how do we move forward?

    November 28, 2013

    • Nick S.

      You're right! Sadly, we are not alone in our failure. But I can't agree that we need to get over the liberal guilt. We have done lots of good things, but have also been very guilty:the opium wars and the mau mau prison camps are just two examples. And I still think that British (and now American) exceptionalism is a real issue.

      November 29, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      @Nick - Well, I think that if our multi-cultural society is to be a successful melting pot, with genuine equality and a sense of belonging and trust then we all have to get over the past. I have heard young Nigerians saying that they don't like or trust white British people because their grandfathers were probably working on our grandfather's plantations. Now they were probably joking, but even so I am uncomfortable about this distillation of history. In fact, my grandparents were earning their daily bread (literally) by day work on the docks. The white working class of London, women and children were exploited by the imperialist system as well as the Africans that were seized as slaves. There were powerful forces as work making sure that they took the lion's share of the wealth. The common thread is inequality. This seems to have been airbrushed out of history somewhere in the last 30 years.

      1 · November 29, 2013

  • Tom W.

    Does social cohesion require that we assimilate and adopt a common culture?

    November 25, 2013

    • Julliet

      can you ever imagine a world without the many nationalities that we have! life would be very boring and that is what is so special about the world that we live in, it embraces all the kind of people, nation and religion and has everything for everyone.

      November 29, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      @Julliet - Well given that we've only begun to talk, I am not sure of the difference between integration and inclusion. Perhaps you could expand?

      November 29, 2013

  • Julliet

    Does social cohesion require that we assimilate and adopt a common culture?

    I do not think social cohesion require that we assimilate and adopt a common culture. We need to understand what causes social cohesion. This needs to be explored with non-judgement manner, respecting the values of one another and yet exploring those inner deep feelings of people perception of one another. understanding and being prepared to forgive the past, loving and learning from each other can help re-store peace and hatred from broken communities, and helps stop the conflict of social cohesion. it is within each and everyone responsibility to take it upon themselves to seek what causes conflict and help restore peace and love and unity as everyone has something to offer. The older English population who are over above 20 years perhaps need civics education , as the schools now embrace , migrants and the children are more adaptable to schools that before. I

    November 29, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      @Julliet - What is civics education?

      November 29, 2013

  • Neil M.

    There should be greater understanding between different cultures. Lack of integration is a big issue across the country. Many believe that by living in a sub-community and a sub-economy that everything will be alright but there seems to be a lack of trust between different nationalities and between a significant number of people of other nationalities with the people of the UK. There is a reluctance to connect with the English speaking people of this country. We need more understanding and co-operation. If there are no common grounds or common cultural traits then this means that there is a reluctance to share each other's diversity. It is not about passive tolerance that will get a local community moving forward. There are underlying problems and intolerance from all segments across the diverse communities. All I can say is that it is becoming very difficult to communicate as many don't wish to share a common language or understand the long standing culture and history of the UK.

    2 · November 27, 2013

    • Julliet

      @Neil Mukherjee : It is good to appreciate, respect and value each other. It is difficult to integrate people because we are all very different. I think plants can be integrated and not really human beings. Inclusion and encouragement for people to be included is a big step towards understanding one another.

      November 29, 2013

    • Julliet

      @Piercarla The causes for lack of trust and Why some people do not want to connect with the English speaking people are huge. poor prounciation of English, lack of self confident, not being welcomed and poor attitudes where one can feel isolated in a room or meeting, lack of participation from the minority , and this can be from any back ground whatsoever, lack of time, historically some kind of non-forgiveness where people have not forgotten historical events, etc. there is so much. Way forward is learning from each other and including one another in love and respect where no one is got priority over another.

      November 29, 2013

  • Anne B.

    sorry to miss this forum - its a great group and theme and needs to continue, I hope it will

    November 29, 2013

  • John W.

    I too see many signs of people engaging with each other. My particular interest is interfaith and encouraging dialogue at all levels. It can be frustrating setting up meetings but it is often very worthwhile. One other area to think about is neutral spaces like libraries where all can come and feel welcome. Some of these spaces are being lost!

    November 29, 2013

  • Olga Borges L.

    I just was told about the group and I am still reading the headlines and this article on the Staurday Forum. I work on politics and I am finishing degree in Sociology. It seems I can be here at first, listening and following the discussions. I am from Cuiabá, Brazil.

    November 28, 2013

  • Piercarla

    Here is one definition of Consciousness which might be of interest: Consciousness is where everything is included and nothing is judged.

    (I am fully spiritual, sorry.)

    November 28, 2013

  • Fiona W.

    Caroline CH and others

    You may like to look at Atheism UK's petition. Go to their website and under News see 'No to gender segregation'

    November 28, 2013

  • Caroline C H

    I agree with most of what Neil has to say but Tom there are fundamental differences (attitudes towards women in some communities).

    1 · November 28, 2013

  • Nick S.

    Part of the problem is simply Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism. We think we're different - and better.

    November 28, 2013

  • Andria

    HI Mark Barratt, are U going to this one Sir?!

    November 20, 2013

    • Eileen C.

      this is such an important topic, and such useful contributions on this page. Can't make it this time but hope I can sometime.

      November 28, 2013

  • Krishna

    Where do I start! grew up in Mombasa, Kenya until age 14. Came to UK and lived in countryside in UK. I am paying heavy price until today! Suffer what I call post traumatic disorder, when ever injustice, racism raises it ugly head. Mombasa was a seaport hence despite it's many problems very accepting of difference. The only answer for me is that we teach our population our history of our British Empire. This needs to begin very early. My 17yrs old dual heritage child is just starting to learn about civil rights. Civil rights have become my life quest now. I believe acceptance is needed rather then only tolerance. My extended family has build many bridges and continue to do so by sharing, teaching, participating and having partners of different cultures!! Human beings for me have more in common then not. 15 years in Nursing taught me that, we all hurt, we all bleed. and now the Mental Health community is teaching me that we have even more in common.

    November 28, 2013

  • Tom W.

    As much as I want to believe that human beings of different cultural backgrounds want to integrate and understand each other, my experience of human behaviour is that this goes against human instinct. Rather than take the time to understand and find common ground with our neighbours from different cultural backgrounds, we choose to spend our free time with those who help us reinforce our sense of who we are rather than who we are not. Is your experience different?

    November 28, 2013

  • Ben D.

    Assimilation in public life is crucial. In private, one should be able to do as one pleases.

    1 · November 26, 2013

  • Fiona W.

    I trust that, as a life coach, Piercarla has clients who speak good enough English to be able to communicate properly with her. It is essential that we understand what we are saying to one another, and many problems arise socially and in business when we don't. I remember being very impressed hearing a Jewish woman saying on the radio what when she and her husband arrived in the US as refugees they realised that their first duty was to learn the language properly. I think culture, including religion, can be kept largelya private matter as long as we can communicate and therefore understand each other: you don't need to know whether I'm interested in the arts (which I am) or sport (which I'm not) so long as we can. for instance, do business over the telephone or the supermarkeet counter.

    1 · November 25, 2013

  • Guillem

    I do think a common culture is necessary to allow multiculturalism. When there's not a common ground or some people believe they will not have nowhere where their culture is the basis, problems arose. I am very sorry I can't make it this Saturday because I was in the latest forum on the topic and comments were brilliant. All the best for this one. Guillem

    1 · November 25, 2013

  • Jessie H.

    Adopting a common culture by denying one's roots would be very unhealthy.However,learning the language or languages of the host culture improves participation in the community as well as enriching oneself.

    1 · November 25, 2013

  • Jessie H.

    It would be nice if we could repeat this event.i am working on this day

    November 25, 2013

  • Fiona W.

    Sorry, I'll be out of London. Those of you who've been to New Unity before have probably met the Rev Pakula. You may like to know that he'll be talking to the London Atheist Active Group on Monday 9 December: "What is an atheist religion?: Rev Pakula explains Unitarianism". See the LAAG website for more information and booking.

    November 24, 2013

    • Andria

      I'm unlikely to be able to make the 30th ; really wish I could but must look after my six yr old...no babysitter. Hope it goes well

      November 25, 2013

36 went

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