Culture. Defined by Oxford English dictionary as ,
‘The way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time.’
Culture. A word to collectively represent the art, theatre, religion and values of a specific society.
Culture. Defined by Merriam-Webster as the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.
So why are our cultures clashing? There is nothing there to suggest that cultures are forces of evil designed to compete with one another. Why are some cultures ones that people strive to be a part of, but others ones that people fear? Is it really the cultures, the religions of these people that are causing the problems we face today?
Following recent events in Britain I have seen comment after comment online with the tone of resentment towards those from other cultural backgrounds. ‘We need to protect our country’, ‘we need to take control’. Take control of what? As a small island what are we taking control of? The people who carry out acts of terrorism are not in our control, people with such a malignant nature will attack anyone, anywhere. But this mentality to me suggests that people in Britain would sleep better at night thinking, ‘at least it won’t be us.’
Our world is getting more and more insecure by the minute. Trust is disappearing, stereotypes are increasing. Now, I am not a religious person, not in the sense of going to church on a Sunday or believing that I am following God’s plan whatever my actions. But I like the idea of Heaven, I like the idea of Hell, I like the idea that there is a reward for being good and punishment for being a pain in the arse your whole life. But to me that’s all it is, an idea. I have nothing against religion, I appreciate it and I understand the need for it but what I don’t understand is why everyone thinks their divine spiritual leader is the only one. Why God is more powerful than Allah or vise versa, or why Buddists have no deity yet Hindus prey to multiple. Maybe I’m naive but I have done a lot of work with people from other cultures and if the afterlife means that me and my friends are going to be separated by some invisible wall dividing one culture from another, then I am not game for that.
Working alongside people from other cultures or religions is something I find fascinating as it provides a different outlook to every situation. I grew up with a friend of Muslim heritage, it became the norm for us to understand why she couldn’t eat certain meat and we appreciated that at a certain time of the year she wasn’t allowed to eat any food at all during certain hours. Of course now I understand Ramadan and the religious meaning behind it, but then when we were just a small group of young girls we accepted it without questioning. It was her way of life and who were we to argue against that when we had no knowledge at all about what it was that we were arguing against.
I think that’s what angers me the most about all of this. People judge and argue against a religion that isn’t their own, atheists argue against any religion because there’s no proof that it’s anything but fiction. People are afraid of what they don’t understand. Religious education isn’t enforced in enough schools, we’re taught it at an age where we only believe what our parents taught us. If we don’t have religious parents then why would we take any of this seriously at an age where we don’t want to believe there is an almighty being watching our every move. Kids are brought up these days to be wary of anything they don’t understand which of course is essential for their safety but naturally it is extended out to things that don’t make sense to them. Sexual orientations, religions, people of mixed-gender and disability. All of these things that are ever increasing in our modern world. Leaving me with the assumption that all of our problems are based around fear.
Of course, all of these assumptions are the ramblings of a 19 year old who can only explain from an outsiders point of view. Immigration, terrorism and politics. I am so far removed from all of these things that I have no idea what it feels like, these things have never impacted my life. But I can only imagine what it would be like. To have your home ripped apart quite literally, to watch people you know and love get killed as a result of people abusing your own religion, using it as an excuse. To then be shoved onto an overcrowded boat clinging onto the last shred of hope that this is the way your family will survive. To hear about all those boats that didn’t make it but knowing that you would rather risk that then stay in your once peaceful hometown. Then you arrive at a new country, a country free of explosions, a country with buildings still in tact, a country that looks safe, only to find that you are not welcome. The people you once hoped to save your life are going to throw you straight back into a war-zone that you have no hope of surviving. If by some miracle you find asylum here, you are still facing a war. A war of prejudice, you’re avoided on the streets because of your race, people label you a terrorist because of the clothes you wear, your religion has become the butt of harsh jokes. Your religion which you have relied so heavily on to get you through the last few years, your religion which has saved your family’s life, your religion which is all about peace and acceptance suddenly has a reputation for evil.
A belief system isn’t evil. People are evil. People manipulate words. People manipulate people. Words are just words. Actions are done by people. Terrorism is not a result of religion. Terrorism is an action. Actions are done by people.
I hope that one day we move past this, we’ve created our own horrors, we’ve created a group of people where the name is enough to scare people into hiding. Soon we’ll be labeling them ‘those-who-shall-not-be-named’ and we’ll have some Lord Voldemort taboo going on. But as they say, love is the closest thing we have to magic and that worked for Harry Potter so let’s take a leaf out of his book.
All my love goes out to all those who are suffering no matter what religious beliefs, ethnicity, age, gender or sexuality,
Lots of love Lottie xoxo
P.S. My featured image was taken recently at a program based in England by Momentum World which was to raise awareness for Erasmus+ projects, I thought not only was it relevant but it was taken at an intercultural event. The very thing that changes the lives of our young people. Please, let us not let ignorance take these things away from the youth of today.