Some time ago I read about some people in Ontario who wanted to segregate their children from the general population of students in schools so that they might study the finer details of their indigenous culture and feel pride in their ancestry.
There was of course considerable debate about the wisdom of doing this. In the debate, were two trains of thought. First was the perspective that children whose background and culture differed from the general population would lose their sense of self or at least be subordinated in some way to the greater will. And second, there was the perspective that by separating these same children from the general population of students, the result would be a kind of apartheid that people all over the world have been struggling against for umpty-ump years.
In thinking about it, I’m not sure that either perspective would do anything to build a more tolerant environment. I think there is a third viewpoint here that I haven’t heard anyone mention. Here it is.
In my own, possibly naive, way, I see this as an opportunity for schools and school boards to introduce cultural education in all of its schools. What’s wrong with all children, regardless of gender, race or cultural background, having the chance to learn about a variety of cultural practices other than their own and becoming familiar with religions other than their own for that matter? Surely this would help our human race come to terms with its differences as well as appreciate its commonalities.
I expect that someone will be able to tell me why this is a terrible idea but it seems to me that the more we seek to understand, the more tolerant we become.
While I’m ruminating on this topic, it occurs to me also that girls and boys of all backgrounds and religions who grow up understanding each other on a deeper level will build workplaces capable of honoring and relying on the mosaic that is the human race to ensure their prosperity.
Charles Handy once said, “The companies that survive the longest are the ones that work out what they uniquely can give to the world not just growth or money but their excellence, their respect for others and their ability to make people happy. Some call those things soul.”
In my experience, respect and happiness often spring from being seen and heard. When we are seen and heard, we have a better chance of being inspired to do our best work. And, in my reverie, I picture more leaders in the world who come to see the differences among us as assets to be valued.
I’m reminded too of a song that Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder sang together some time way back in the 80’s. It rings true for me today and I hope it does the same for you.
As always, your thoughts are most welcome here.