Sunday, 19 March 2017

The challenges and victories of multi-culturalism

Nederland: The elections are behind us. The people have spoken. Times and situations are very turbulent. Emotions have run high. Over al the 'battle' was clean. No real scandals to speak of. We didn't need them really. Enough 'other stuff' happening.

It hasn't gone unnoticed that here in Nederland, we are struggling with international tensions between countries. Since the huge upsurge of displaced peoples who have fled their home countries due to war, hunger and little prospect of a safe existence and fulfilling future, Europa has become the prime target for migration of those seeking a better future.

I would be the last person to say that leaving a place of war or devastation is not the solution to the problem. I can imagine that for the majority, leaving loved ones, homes, culture and lifestyle behind under these circumstances must be horrific.

People immigrate every day. They seek their good ( or worse) fortune elsewhere. A choice they make for better or worse. But refugees often have no choice. So where so they go? What is the best option?

What does baffle me, is that people don't choose a country where their cultural differences are more in tune with their own. Where religion, language, weather, life style and food are more alike to their own needs, customs and comforts. Instead they brave the dangers and end up in 'holding camps' hoping for better things to come. Most of them being robbed of any dignity, all their money and possessions, hopes and dreams. Reality being:  the grass wasn't as green as they thought it might be. The differences and prospects so adversely challenging then they assumed that the realisation of what they've done adds to the already feeling of being unwanted,  not welcome. How horrible is that.

As a 'new settler' Down Under in the early1960's, our family's priority was to learn the language, attend school, find work, make friends and blend in- keeping our identity but melting into the culture we embraced as being our new 'home'. We succeeded. Yes, we still cooked evening meals 'like home' but also added new flavours and dishes to our meals. No, we didn't wear clogs to school- didn't do that in Nederland either. We did learn to accept jandals. My parents kept their accent, we children didn't.

Today, I am back in the country of my birth. I went to the local supermarket today. It is a Turkish Supermarket- AWESOME. Specialises in Turkish products but also stocks the necessary dutch daily fare. I see vegetables I am unfamiliar with. I can't read all the labels. I am curious about certain recipes. I love the meat department- lots of lamb, NZ lamb even or so I am told. I have the privilege of tasting foods from all over the world. Because others have settled here. I can't understand all the conversations as I walk down the aisle. While shopping here I am in another world. I have couscous, lam cutlets, three bunches of fresh herbs tied with string ( mint, coriander, Turkish parsley), I have chickpeas and Turkish yoghurt and bread, and a cereal as dutch as they come, Brinta.

With my Dutch heritage, my Kiwi influences and my Turkish Supermarket my life is enriched. Now here's hoping that people everywhere will attempt to accept and get to know their neighbours. Learn from their differences and share their knowledge and friendships. If we can start in the kitchen- then maybe we can also learn more about each other on other fronts- learn, accept and allow everyone to be who they are meant to be.

Upon re-reading this before publishing my blog ( which I do to erase typos etc) I can only sum up by drawing this conclusion. Other cultures arrive here looking for a better, safer life and more promising future. Then after a while there are protests and judgements about our western lifestyle, customs, religion and way of life. Why choose a Western country if our values are not approved of? If the west is 'the place to be'. Then live as the western people do - keeping own identity and customs alive at home but become part of the community which was chosen for a better and safer future.

It can work- I know that for a fact - in harmony and showing respect for each other!

Solutions to conflicts and poverty take many forms. 
Helping a country restore the balance 
so people can stay in their own environment is also an option. 
Fleeing isn't always the answer. 
Helping each other is.

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