MULTICULTURALISM – A GIFT AND A CHALLENGE
By Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican
hear much about multiculturalism in our time. The goal of multiculturalism is to
build trust and appreciation among members of various ethnic groups by using the
gifts and talents of all to contribute to the building of peace, justice and
unity for all. Each ethnic group is encouraged to take great pride in its own
culture and offer it to embellish the whole, and build a stronger community,
state or nation. The increase in the minority population is happening in many
places around the world and calls us to study and respond to the implications
for our own lives and for our communities.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES PEOPLE EXPERIENCE IN RELATING TO INDIVIDUALS OR
GROUPS FROM OTHER CULTURES?
Some of the native populations feel discomfort in relating to other cultural
groups. They have to get out of their comfort zone, listen to the values, hopes
and challenges, the source of their identity and customs of people from other
cultures. We can all learn from their responses and then clarify and share our
own values with them. Fear of foreigners taking away their jobs is one that we
often hear about. We must recall that they are here looking for a better life
for themselves and their families. We need to realize that all need a safe and
secure place to bring up their families and prepare them for a viable future.
Such a hope brings more people to our shores.
presence at worship may also call us to be open to other expressions of prayer
and worship. What does our faith challenge us to do? It requires us to reach out
in respect and welcome the strangers in our midst, share our beliefs and style
of worship. In Galatians 3: 28, we hear “In Christ there is neither Jew not
Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female. All are one in Christ.”
We can discuss these issues in groups, reflect on them in prayer and then come
up with ways to respond.
people feel families that come and need assistance are taking away from services
needed by local families who may be in a survival mode. We must realize that all
deserve the means of meeting their basic needs and be able to enjoy some quality
of life. We can listen to them, learn from them, and direct them to available
THERE SOME GOOD NATIONAL MODELS FOR SUCCESSFUL MULTICULTURALISM?
United States and other areas, multiculturalism is described as a “melting pot.”
model seems to be limited. It encourages people of other cultures to blend their
values into one mold and leave behind their own beliefs and customs. This
reduces people’s confidence in their own value and contributions they can make
to whole picture. It diminishes their hopes and dreams for a better future and
what they can contribute to it.
has been shared about the Canadians and their efforts to promote
multiculturalism in a positive way. Some leaders in Canada have addressed the
issue of multiculturalism and have pointed out the importance of ensuring all
minorities feel like they belong and have something important to contribute to
society. Government encourages this idea and approach. People of different
cultures are encouraged to make their contribution by creating a mosaic of
different shapes and colors, each adding to the total picture. Many feel they
have a long way to go to come up with a workable solution but they have a vision
for a unified nation and are working to accomplish it. Education of youth is an
important aspect to enable them to have a viable future in a strange land. You
also need to learn about different culture and learn to respect them, beginning
in their early years.
IS THIS ISSUE IMPORTANT TO DOMINICANS?
years ago, Fr. Matt Walsh, OP, met with a group of lay Dominicans of the
Province of St. Albert the Great. He reminded the participants that the theme of
the Jubilee Year, 2011 was about preaching and multiculturalism. He referred to
a story in Mark 6: 34. It relates how Jesus always had compassion the crowds he
was preaching to. He listened to them and welcomes them and knew what they were
going through. He knew their hopes and frustrations. He calls on all of us not
to preach in a vacuum but to know the audience we are preaching to. This calls
for prayer and reflection and requires of us great humility and honesty, and
explore multiculturalism, we also need to be aware of our own prejudices and
ways we look at people of other cultures. Then we will be more tolerant of
people different from ourselves. This will call us to listen to their stories
and also share our own vision and values with them. We are also encouraged to
speak out boldly and clearly against any mistreatment of immigrants in our
land. Gather groups to discuss these questions:
“What would it mean for us to welcome strangers?
What are the blessings we could experience in relating to them?
How can we build bridges to welcome strangers in our neighborhoods, schools,
churches, or wherever we are?”
continue our journey in getting to know, understand and learn from people of
other cultures, may we work and pray to build a better future for all.