To actively promote diversity and build bridges, champions are needed. The work is demanding as it requires strong communication skills and a good awareness of at least two cultures. There are very few ethnic minority people with such skills, and those who do have them do not have the resources to provide the advice for free on a continual basis. Also there is a huge demand on their time not least from the communities where they come from. All too often, the wealthy and the resourceful are too busy guarding their wealth to participate in such activities.
There is a demand for people in Schools and institutions which are trying actively to get diverse representatives from different communities. The government needs to invest resources in training such people and motivating them to get involved. Also the mainstream community need to understand and give space to such people and help them become more involved citizens.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
True practice of diversity requires humility. One should start with a position of trust and respect for another, and not be prejudiced by stereotypes or personal experiences. This is hard to do. And for those who are 'successful' in the modern world, humility is the hardest to achieve. It is better to look down rather than up - the more one 'succeeds' and comes in the public limelight, the more willing one should be to bow. Silence is also an expression of humility. In the modern world of noise pollution, everyone wants to be heard. However, it is the humble who are likely to make the most difference!
Posted by Dr. Atul Shah at 3:34 PM 1 comment:
Monday, September 18, 2006
Yesterday, I attended the global launch of the Just-A-Minute peace campaign by the Brahmakumaris (www.just-a-minute.org) at the Wembley Arena in London. The message was simple - everyone should try to spend one minute a day to connect with their inner spirit and reflect and renew. Music, dance, poetry, film and comedy were used to put this message across. It was simple and creative, and very unique and education. The tickets were free and a beautiful CD of practical tools was given to all at the end. It was a truly unique experience and the message of diversity was so clear and powerful without even being spoken! All performers were diverse, the language of silence is universal and the 12,000 crowd was also diverse. This is diversity at its best - when we all feel part of a larger whole beyond ourselves and beyond humanity.
Posted by Dr. Atul Shah at 7:39 AM No comments:
Saturday, September 16, 2006
RELIGION AND CULTURE
Religion and culture are not separate. They are inter-twined. They both combine to influence habits, world-views and lifestyles. Even someone who says who has no belief and lives a materialistic lifestyle actually has a belief - that there is no God and that materialism is the only truth. It is just that the belief is not explicit or understood in a conventional 'religious' way. Even a materialist has a ritual of going shopping every Saturday or decorating the body through beautiful clothes and lovely food and indulgence in desires. Faith and belief influence our daily life whether we like it or not. Unfortunately, modern media try very hard to dissect faith from culture as by and large, they are anti-religion. In reality, they are ignorant of the role of faith and belief in human life. Also they are ignorant of some religions such as Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism, which have lived peacefully and tolerantly for millenia.
Posted by Dr. Atul Shah at 7:46 AM No comments:
Diversity is about difference. And it is about respect for that difference. It is not about agreeing to the different culture or values. Neither is it about converting oneself to 'multi-culturalism'. If we examine closely, we ourselves are different. Our hands are a different size from our legs. We have two eyes but only one nose. And sometimes we are happy and sometimes we are sad. That does not mean that people should only respect us when we are happy and not when we are sad. No. It is a simple fact of life that everyone wants to be loved and respected. Diversity acknowledges that fact and patiently tries to weave a community of peace through it. Yes, Diversity requires enormous patience. And it also bring enormous hope for the modern world.
Posted by Dr. Atul Shah at 7:37 AM No comments:
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Pluralism allows people to have open minds and be self-critical. It allows one to disagree without being disagreeable. It preserves respect and avoids antagonism. It also means that conversion and prosletization should be restrained. Unfortunately, there is a lot of emotion attached to belief and absolutism and fundamentalism often result from this emotion. This is where the human spirit needs to evolve to have genuine respect and dignity for other people irrespective of their colour, creed or belief. Only then will we have lasting peace in this world.
Posted by Dr. Atul Shah at 8:43 AM No comments:
Monday, September 04, 2006
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION
Ignorance creates barriers. Education has the potential to remove ignorance. No culture or religion is perfect as humans themselves are imperfect. Anyone who says that theirs is the perfect religion should arouse suspicion. However, before we criticise other cultures or beliefs, we must understand them first. And this understanding requires study, experience, travel and patience. And that is the totality of cultural education. If a school has pupils from different backgrounds, it has the greatest potential to educate about diversity, provided it makes use of the diversity that already exists and encourages communication and connectivity. Where a school does not have pupils from diverse backgrounds, it would need to do more active diversity field trips. Fortunately, in Britain today there are many sites one can visit to meet different cultures and experience their beliefs and festivals. It is more difficult to educate adults who are outside the school system and where habits and views are entrenched. However, we must try. For example, the curry is a very popular British meal, and alongside the curry, a restaurant can educate about Indian culture which is as spicy as the curry.
Posted by Dr. Atul Shah at 5:35 PM 4 comments:
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