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Posts Tagged ‘multiculturalism’

Life is almost entirely about deliberation. The choices that we make in each moment affect the choices that we can make in the future; they affect the choices that others make. What I do now is almost inextricably linked to the choices I have made in the past. My choices were put before me not merely by my own accord, but also by the choices and actions of others in this world. I am as much a product of my own deliberation as I am a product of circumstances created outside of my own deliberation; I am a product and a producer. I will revisit these ideas shortly. First, I would like to tell a story about the world and my conscious and unconscious actions within it.

I have a deep appreciation for diversity. Diversity is color. Diversity is plenitude of experience as opposed to one experience. I could constantly see blackness and all that I would experience would be a kind of blind existence. I could constantly see white with similar result. It is only when the kaleidoscope of colors unfolds before me that I can distinguish all of the various shades in between; between the extreme opposites of  black and white.  Diversity is worth fighting for.  Being able to choose a favorite color from the existing colors is in every regard superior to being fated to an existence without free choice.

In this world, East and West are as extreme as the opposition of black to white. Knowing both directions, reveals various shades of existence; it reveals subtle cultural nuances; East and West together reveal the subtleties of human nature; the varying modes of human action; and the otherwise unviewable truths of human potentiality. China and Canada together reveal this East/West divide more than any other two countries I have spent considerable time in. But, we are all still human. The Orient and the Occident really are different; but not so different that we cannot know or understand one another.

There is a whole world of difference between our ways of being. Our ways of governing and our ways of acting and reacting to situations is different. We can line up in neat ques a mile long; or we can fight for our place at the front of the line. We can act as if there is only one mind among many; or we can act as there are many minds directed at individual pursuits. We can eat with chopsticks; or we can eat with a fork and knife.  We can eat off of our own plate; or we can share the same plate with many. Our ways of acting and deliberating are diverse. Our cultures are unique.

Since we share this planet, and since the East and West need to know each other as black knows white and up knows down, my deliberations find me both consciously and unconsciously enamoured with the possibility of having a life in both countries: One life in Canada; and another life in China.

Our countries together will decide the fate of this world that we find ourselves in. It is integral that some people know both worlds in order for us all to recognize the importance of diversity. I do not want to exist in a world of mono-culture. Westernizing or Easternizing the world, or choosing only one shade rather than all the colors between opposite shades, will not do diversity any justice.

Many have asked me recently, why I am so drawn to a country like China. My answer to this is that it is partly by my own choice to choose a color that I like in this world; and it is partly because of the difference in the Chinese way of life, their people, their society, their different way of being and existing that appeals to my innate desire for diversity. I want, more than anything, to be exposed to as many shades as the extremes present between East and West can offer; knowing our similarities and our differences is so valuable to understanding the nature of being human. I would like the freedom to deliberate about my existence from the vastest shades available to me in this world; shades brought to this world by deliberation not of my own but of a culture and a people so different (and yet so similar) from the shade I find beneath the great Canadian Maple.

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Probably the most disgusting things I see in this world all end in -ism: racism and ethnocentrism, sexism, and extremism. In my ideal world, none of these things would exist. But, lets face it, we are nowhere near this ideal. We must strive toward it, nonetheless. We must all want to shed our ignorance. Unfortunately, some people pretend to like being ignorant.

All of these -isms I have just mentioned are socially constructed falsehoods about the world that we live in. Race doesn’t actually exist, no one ethnic group is superior to another, no sex is superior, no extremism serves a virtuous purpose. We live in a time when we have more than ever been able to witness the brutality that these -isms bring, and have brought, to this world. We are intelligent beings; capable of growth and understanding. We should all know and accept that playing along with people who espouse these -isms does no one any service.

In fact, when we choose to embrace a racist, for example by listening to a racist joke, we are responsible for perpetuating racism as much as the joke teller; especially if we tell one as well. But, this is not about ignorant jokes; it is about willingly choosing to be ignorant human beings. Acting in this way does not change the world in any positive way.

While it is sometimes hard to stand up to thugs, bullies, and lowlifes, sometimes taking advantage of their ignorant moments to teach them how they are wrong can put a good seed within them. Change can happen. It does happen. People can learn. People do change. It is not an easy project, because people have to be willing to learn. Next time someone tells a racist joke, tell them you are not impressed that they willingly choose to be so ignorant. Heck, make a point of showing a documentary on Martin Luther King Jr. next time the person comes over. Next time you hear someone ranting about how the west is better than the east, call them on it–then show a film like Gandhi when they least expect it. Next time you see a man or woman talk badly about the opposite sex, name a few people that do not meet their stereotype.  As for the extremist, maybe steer clear for now since they can get violent to try to prove their point (even though being violent does just the opposite). Find out how to reach the person, send them a copy of Schindler’s List and show them where extremism leads.

One of the problems pegging many societies down is a lack of good teachers. In this situation, I think we have enough good teachers but not enough of them teaching the difference between right and wrong. Unless those that have woken up to smell the 21st don’t make some coffee for the rest of the household, they might just sleep all day. Wake up, make some coffee and stick it under their noses until they drink it. We should all be wide awake by now.

~Justin Allen Philcox

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