America has it all; a president with, love him or hate him, global attention, and many of the most notable and breathtaking sights of the world. It is now a diverse combination of cultures, smells and flavours and this changes its identity in many ways. America is no longer the country it was and never will be again, whatever restrictions Trump puts on immigration. The people have become America and America is a product of its people. And on a recent trip to New York I had the pleasure of enjoying the perks; the best American Italian pasta marinara I’ve ever had and how open minded people are when they are forced to integrate and communicate with people with varying traditions, likes and dislikes. One thing the people of America do seem to commonly agree on is their love for their country, and they’re willing to do anything to protect it. They see America as a wise parent who has taken them under their wing and given them the fuel and love they have needed to thrive and succeed. This sense of acceptance for diversity has been many years in the making and many have perished and died in the process.
Now look at Sweden, which is a far more recent apparent immigration crisis. Millions of people in need of refuge have come to the country looking for a better life for them and their families. They have been well looked after by the government, and most will say that swedes have welcomed them and helped them integrate into society. However, there is a dark side. Some swedes resent the changes that have occurred as result of the arrival of these people that look and act so differently to them. They see unemployment rise, crime rates soar, the economy suffer, and they fail to see the benefit these new arrivals offer to the country. These people seem to take more than they give and their beautiful cities are now covered in litter a graffiti. Can you blame them for being a little resentful? I myself have seen the country change dramatically in my lifetime, and at the age of 36, I have found it hard to get my head round the deterioration of the country. Having been brought up in London but visiting Sweden regularly it surprised me how multiculturalism seemed perfectly normal in London with nearly all my friends being from some exotics country, yet so abnormal in Sweden.
However I realise now that the situation in Sweden is not final, and merely part of a process that the world is going through. The nations of the world have a choice: they can close their doors or leave them open. The knee jerk reaction when faced with change or uncomfortable situations is to shut all the doors and reminise about the past. It’s easier than taking wobbly steps forward into an unknown future. We know how to control that works as we’ve done it for years and our forefathers before us. Our identifies are concreted and we get comfort from a community of like-minded people when we keep strange people out. However we are also obstacles to change, and change can be good. The richness of the experience we have the opportunity to experience in our lifetimes is dramatically increased. We have the opportunity to reach wider, achieve things we didn’t know we could, meet people and learn from people in a way that enriches our lives and those around us. We become less restrained by conformity and society’s expectations and ideals. We become more able to make decisions effectively based on a more balanced perspective of the world, a more objective view.
This is why I travel; to widen my understanding of what the world is and how people interact and behave when faced with survival and general daily living. I yearn variety and look to other cultures to explain my own and why I do what I do. I need to know why I’m working, why I’m washing, why is gardening, why it’s okay to be thin and not fat, what I do when my baby cries, why I have to lose someone I love and why I have to do what I’m told, at home, at work, in the supermarket, on a train, in the car. I need to understand the differences of nations in the world before I commit to one nation. I need to understand why I have to commit to one nation when my parents were from two different nations and I was born in a third.
I’m not suggesting that multiculturalism can tell us the meaning of life or improve our lives, but it does give us more of a balanced perspective of the world and gives us the freedom to ask questions and make decisions based on a varied experience rather than just societal pressures.
‘One’ world would strip us to our naked truth and remove obstacles to our own failings. It would enable to think more logically and allow us to collaborate more effectively in dealing with serious issues that affect the world, not just a certain radius.
I say we re-evaluate how we do things, take away the physical and metaphorical fences, and learn how to find solutions that serve the good of humanity in general, not just those that look and talk like us. Anything else will surely end in war with catastrophic consequences…
What do you think?