(Virtual Keys to The Quality of Life)
We all have words that are of special meaning to us, and some will have greater resonance and relevance than others, depending on their positive or negative associations with our experiences. However, in a global and collective consciousness, there are certain words that unite us all. They soar way above others in what they mean for the quality, success and actual purpose of our lives; words that are like beacons in guiding us to our destinations and keeping us focused. They are above all other words we use because of their power to affect our lives, to give us what we desire and to add sheer enjoyment, satisfaction and fulfilment to our existence.
These seven words have no equal. Taken individually or together they are in a class of their own because they embrace other key words within them. Imagine those words as the building blocks of your personal house, and this is how they would be used in the construction:
We do not see the world as we think it is, we see the world as we are, based on the amount of self love we have. This dictates whether we feel good or bad, happy or sad, isolated or befriended, positive or negative. If we are happy and full of self love the world seems an enriching and wonderful place, no matter how terrible some situations might be. If we lack self love, we also lack trust in others, and love and empathy for others; the world seems a crap place to be. Quite simply, we can only give to others what we have to share within us. If we have no self love, we have no love to give and that has a marked effect on four main areas of our lives: our sense of belonging, the security we feel, our level of trust in others and the relationships we have.
Belief liberates us from fear and insecurity because we know that whatever we believe in - whether God or little green men - it has the power to help us make things magical. That belief, and faith in our belief, bind us all together in a shared purpose of living. Life ceases to be a drudgery and becomes joyful and fulfilling because we know, and believe, that we have the power to make our life what we want it to be. No one else is responsible but us. We do our best, believe in ourselves, trust in others (and even a higher power) to do the rest and with the faith to motivate us! The results can often be miraculous.
The words might have made them feel good about themselves but the actions to match it were sorely lacking. Money doesn't make a family, though it might provide some comfort. However, money and other concerns tend to destroy a family when the focus on them is too much. In fact, many of those executives would be living with perennial guilt because they were not living according to their top values. They would be trapped emotionally between the gap of their intention and continued lack of action. Until they really put family first by aligning their actions with it, they would be fooling themselves.
Values are the things that define us, the priorities we make in life, the codes we live by. Some secondary values will always change, according to what is happening in our life at that time, but the core ones (like justice, fair play, honesty, integrity and valuing life) will never change. They stay with us forever. When we are not living to our core values (like married spouses who declare their undying love for partners but are having affairs, or someone who does something just to please someone else even though they hate it) we get a lot of frustration, worry, stress, resentment and emotional pain. We find it difficult to be happy, contented and at peace because there is a dissonance between our intentions of good faith and our actual actions. We are then tempted to look outwards and blame others than to look inwards to address what is making us unhappy and how we can alleviate it.
Creativity allows us to leave a legacy for the next generation, to prolong the chain of life itself. People who are reluctant to use their own creativity and prefer to depend on that of others tend to be takers, not contributors. They make use of the creative flow of others without realising their own dreams for others to benefit too (like the people who daily use the Internet just for their own gain without adding something to it for others to share). They are not fully utilising their own skills and talents in order to give life to their creativity, while helping mankind as a whole.
With a clear view through your own windows, there is a sense of urgency and vibrancy in your life - an impatience for action and a need to get on. There is much anticipation and self confidence in what you can enable through your own efforts. All things are possible.
Many people are afraid to make choices. They lack the maturity to face the consequences of their actions and so live in fear instead. Or they want everything to be so perfect, and lack self-belief so much, they do not believe they have the power to turn their choices into great decisions which will magically affect their lives. Instead they keep their emotional doors firmly shut, fearing to open them even an inch, and then wonder why they are stuck in the same places, doing the same things and feeling the same inadequacy, failure and pain for months and perhaps years.
Without discipline we would be on a continual see-saw of inconsistency, perhaps starting and seldom finishing, always wishing yet never realising and often intending but not usually acting. Discipline is the glue that reinforces our actions, that takes us from one point to the next and keeps us focused on everything that is important to us.
Everyone in the world mistakenly believes they are seeing the same reality. In one sense, reality is a static situation but how it appears to us will depend on what we read into it, and that is decided by our individual perception. With perception being a powerful invisible force in human relationships, learning how we each perceive a situation can help to improve understanding, respect and individual communication skills.
For example, what do you currently assume or take for granted in your relationship? Do you accept widely held stereotypes and do you base expectations of your family on them? Can you see your child, parent or spouse as a person in his or her own right rather than just as 'a selfish man' , 'a stupid woman' or a member of the 'younger' or 'older' generation?
Most important, do you really listen when you meet someone new or do you immediately make an assumption and impose your perception on them? Do you try to understand their perception while patiently explaining your own?
Getting to know someone better, and taking time to understand their beliefs and perspective, whether we agree with them or not, help to get rid of perceptions which are based more on fear than on fact.
Listening to someone, while communicating accurately and consistently, is essential to this process. Being a fundamental aspect of effective communication, listening affects what we perceive the situation to be, especially what we believe the other person is actually saying. We cannot note the difference between a symptom and a problem when we have not listened to the facts or perceptions of the facts. We cannot help if we do not really hear.
Early in my writing career I sent the first three pages of a chapter of one of my books to a white colleague and high flyer whom I greatly admired and respected for her feedback. But, even before I sent it, because it was only three pages long, her perception of its value was immediately negative. She assumed that it would not make sense (and told me so, before receiving the excerpt!). She advised how I needed to write so the public could understand what I was trying to say, and that she would not be able to be objective about it if she did not get the whole chapter. I wondered what else was operating here so that my perceived incompetence loomed large in this instance!
Once she got it, she understood the content perfectly, rated it 'astonishingly good' and felt sheepish at her earlier perception, anxieties and assumptions. But that's what happens when our self-esteem and self-perception is low. We project our fears and worries on to other people who are unlikely to share those insecurities. Worse still, when such anxieties are placed upon children, who are normally fearless, they become burdened by them and act accordingly.
Do you make the effort to really listen to other people, getting the real messages between the words, or do you assume what they are saying and miss those messages entirely?
Some time ago, an 18 year old at the start of his adult life began the next 25 years of it in prison in the UK for killing another man who he said paid him no 'respect'. Yet another Black youngster is behind bars, his freedom and potential dramatically cut short like the life of his victim. Bradley Tucker shot unarmed Peter Woodhams after Peter had already been knifed by someone in Tucker's hoodie gang. He lost his life trying to stand up to the bullies.
According to the judge, Bradley "perceived disrespect". He feared loss of face in a challenge that he perceived from the man he killed - a challenge to the standing he felt he had in the eyes of the people whose respect he sought. Gang members tend to talk about getting 'respect' from each other and others. They believe that the negative acts of wounding and killing should encourage even more 'respect' and save face. But they will always fail in getting the desired result because of a misunderstanding of the word respect and a lack of awareness of how it is acquired. Respect is a positive word. It has nothing to do with negativity or negative acts. So one cannot get respect through negative behaviour. One can probably get a temporary feeling of satisfaction and power, but no real respect. There are also six dimensions of the word respect.
At the heart of respect is sensitivity to others and their feelings. By demanding respect, or bullying others into showing it, that goes against the grain of earning that respect because there is no sensitivity. We are all entitled to respect by virtue of being living, thinking human beings. Respect is thus automatic in the first instance for who we are and proclaim to be. However, maintaining that respect is the difficult bit because unless the six dimensions of respect are in place (curiosity, attention, dialogue, sensitivity, empowerment, healing), we are likely to withhold respect from that person and treat them with either contempt or disdain, especially through ignoring them or resisting their attempts to draw our attention or engage in dialogue.
Reasons for Joining Gangs
People join gangs for a variety of reasons but the key one is to foster a sense of belonging, to be accepted, which is an essential part of the confidence triangle. Most gang members will be low in self-esteem and the stronger ones will have a craving for power. Not being able to use that power in positive ways in the wider world, they will use it negatively to feel better about themselves. In such groups, where the only glue holding members together is the desire to belong and feel wanted, the achievement they crave is likely to come in deviant acts to maintain that feeling of power and desire for 'respect'.
Yet that is not the basis to earn respect because there is no self-respect already in place. Instead, members are likely to expect others to like what they reject - themselves. They will also be expecting others to condone negative acts which are likely to be part of their rituals and affirmation process. Yet those very acts merely serve to alienate the wider public and form a dubious base for their efforts to impress other members. In such a negative situation, how could Bradley expect to get the respect that he himself denied others?
Bradley Tucker is another tragic youngster who thinks he can earn respect by force through the maiming and killing of another person. But he lost respect for himself when he became a member of a deviant gang and began his reign of terror against his neighbourhood. He said he only meant to scare his victim. I am inclined to believe him. But what obviously got in the way when he pointed the gun at defenceless Peter Woodhams was that feeling of power again, the sudden realisation of the heady power to snuff out a man's life to prove a point, while momentarily forgetting that he was robbing himself of a life too.
Perception dictates the reality of every individual so that no two people share the same perspective of their life or situations. Selective perception (based upon cultural conditioning, comfort levels, fears and aspirations) forms our beliefs which then dictates our values and our identity. We perceive, therefore we are! That is why it is so difficult to share the views of people who are radically different from us because the absence of familiar aspects encourages us to perceive a barrier in communication and in customs, even before we actually see any. We then act accordingly as dictated by our fears.
From that moment on, it makes it even harder for the one on the receiving end of negative perception to actually overcome that imaginary obstacle. Hence why stereotypes and discrimination of any form tend to take such firm hold in a mixed community. The powerless minorities are always at the mercy of the perceptions of the privileged majority, whoever they happen to be - whether men against women, abled against disabled, White against Black or heterosexuals against gays, for example.
Our perceptions dictate how we feel, how we see ourselves and, above all, how we see others. It is the only reality we know. We cannot share the reality of others until we are convinced of the merit, legality or the benefit to do so! For that reason colour and gender, in particular, define perceptions on many significant issues, of which 'Empire' is one of them. If some visible minorities, and even White members of our population, perceive that the word Empire is disparaging or even insulting, that is their reality and should be acknowledged and accepted, not dismissed because it does not conform to the view of the majority.
Labels and Their Effects
The words and labels we choose to describe us are tied into our identity. They define who we are, emphasise what we stand for and infer where we are going. This word with its negative past is also integrated into our recognition and reward system. A word clearly giving mixed messages of value and discomfort to a significant section of our community. As it stands, the word Empire to the White victors of yesteryear is a constant reminder of a perceived lost age of glory; defining people of power, conquest, cultural superiority and colonisation; emphasising affluent living and a license to be racist, oppressive and to kill with impunity those deemed to be inferior, ignorant and rebellious. Something to celebrate with pride as they revel in the past rather than welcome the future.
However many younger visible minority citizens, our future role models, perceive themselves to be part of one nation, not part of a repressive and discriminatory regime. They do not wish to be reminded of images of racism, cultural negation, cultural imposition, exploitation and total disrespect which the Empire conjures up. So this is really a Black and White issue dominated by different perceptions. Naturally, if you hark back to those unequal days (while spouting hot air about equality and diversity) very few people can really take you seriously.
For the obvious reason that 99% of the Government is White, with its positive perception of the value of Empire, while the main refusniks of the word are Black or Asians, it stands to reason that the Government will perceive no adequate case to have been made for changing anything! But we cannot drive looking longingly through our rearview mirror at the past scenery. That will set us on a definite collision course with the road ahead. We have to look ahead through our windscreen of the future, whether we like it or not, to ensure our survival.
A Question of Respect
For a variety of reasons, the current corrupt honours system no longer serves that purpose. The honours have lost their gloss and are rapidly losing their impact and credibility. Many of the very people who could promote them and raise their prestige, like myself, are against them. Worse still, anything which divides a country, yet is supposed to be beneficial, will only increase resentment on all sides - from the powerful who remain entrenched to the powerless who feel unheard.
We need a system which recognises the diversity and different perspectives inherent in any mixed community - an honours system which is entirely inclusive. Not one dictated by one main group while meant for all. Not one lauding the recipient while simultaneously reminding him/her of how inferior/superior they used to be! A system which reflects our present and future is the only one which can send an inclusive message of value and worth to every member of society; a strong message of a celebration of the present and its potential not a glorification of the past. The true essence of respect are: personal value, being heard and being included. The refusal to remove the word Empire, or to reform the honours system radically, suggests the opposite to every one of its recipients.
Being a creative nation, with tremendous talent, we can do better in reforming these outdated awards, but only if we really want to go forward as ONE nation. Or perhaps we prefer to regress backwards as two distinct and opposing sides. It is our choice. The Government sees no case for change and has lost countless opportunities to make a real difference and to take us firmly into the 21st century. Here we are in 2008 and still the old system persists. But change will happen regardless, because only the people can give credibility to such honours and, increasingly, it is proving embarrassing to many people to publicly accept these honours, that are rapidly losing credibility, and with any real pride.
Affirmative action is fair, in the context of which it has been applied. But like anything else that has been in operation for a while, it needs reviewing and something else, perhaps more appropriate to these times, needs to be instituted.
The biggest case for affirmative action to continue in some form is with the college admission systems. So far, in colleges which no longer use affirmative action to place applicants, the number of Black students being accepted has dramatically declined. Cynics might say that it proves they were not eligible in the first place, but American society is very racist in key parts. Until that racism can be stemmed to some degree, there will always be a need for some remedial or affirmative action. When we have a situation where only White students are being educated in a given area, for whatever reason, what are the economic and social implications for the future when the students of ALL races are that future?
I have visited America as a Black woman on numerous occasions and have always been struck by the sheer apartheid nature of its society, the way people live in clear racial and cultural divides, hardly mixing at all, seldom understanding one another and with various erroneous perceptions of one another. There is an emphasis instead on getting the semantics right, promoting the jargon of equality without the substance to support it. Affirmative action is not there to treat anyone in more favourable terms than another.
It is simply about representation: ensuring that a given community is reflected at all levels of activity, particularly in ensuring crucial opportunities to everyone in society, regardless of their colour or culture. The fact that most institutions in America are still very White in composition, despite the growth and success of minorities, show that affirmative action will be needed for a long time to redress the balance of routine and pervasive racism in society, not least because of its history.
As to one writer who says that all colours in British society are treated 'equally' and 'fairly', she has obviously never lived in Britain! People might live harmoniously here but that does not suggest anything is equal. At least we don't live in exclusively racial ghettos. However, as a Black Briton, there is nothing fair about British society for minorities otherwise they would have advanced much further already. Britain is at least 20 years behind America in effective equality practices.
Lack of Awareness Among Minorities
If a problem is never directly addressed and dealt with, it remains the same or gets even worse. Without doubt, racism is alive and well in America. Until one is on the receiving end of it, it really is a difficult concept to understand, appreciate and accept. A poor White person worries about not having any money and where the next crust is coming from. A Black person worries about the next crust, but also has the added burden of wondering who is going to stop him from getting that crust just because of his colour. That subtle difference between being White and Black can make or break lives.
The fact that affirmative action is being questioned now shows how successful it has been. Perhaps it needs something else to replace it to be more in tune with developing times, but there is no question as to its fairness and the need for it to redress the relentless inequity. Affirmative action may not be the best thing to remedy the situation for minorities, but it has been a crucial start in the process of equality. Whatever many people feel about it, rightly or wrongly, it has given a lot of minorities a positive start in their lives which they would have been deprived of primarily because of their colour and the spurious belief that one can engender equality simply by saying it without believing in it or acting upon it.
In 2001, the writer and academic, Tim Wise, made history in the UK by taking one of the top prizes in the annual British Diversity Awards(7th) held in London - see Wikipedia.
Founded by myself, these unique and prestigious awards recognised and publicly rewarded organisations and individuals in Britain and internationally who were making a significant difference in their establishments and personal efforts to celebrate diversity, promote harmony between cultures, encourage social understanding and to bring people together. The 28 of the 38 judges nationwide, who never met to prevent being influenced by one another, awarded Tim the Best Diversity Article for enabling greater understanding and appreciation of diversity issues. Until then, the title had only been won by Britons.
Colour Conscious, White Blindness, was a powerful treatise on how minorities were perceived in the 1990s relating to crime. Using numerous examples on both sides of the colour divide, Wise left readers in no doubt as to the biased perception of people of colour, and how majority ‘white privilege’ ensured they were always viewed and treated unfairly.
A short excerpt of his award-winning article read:
“So in just a few short years, comments about the pathology of people of color have gone from the margins of political discourse to the center. Discussions of crime have become increasingly racialized and our dialogue on race increasingly criminalized, such that deviance is now seen by many as synonymous with melanin, or Black culture. Meanwhile whites, no matter how criminal or “deviant” our behaviors may be, are allowed the privilege of individualization. We’re allowed to be “just bad persons,” unlike non-whites who come to be seen collectively as bad people….
Fast forward to today, and I was amazed to receive his latest article relating to the American elections in my mailbox and it gives some real insights into white privilege and the 2008 elections.
Entitled This is Your Nation on White Privilege, the blog lists various ways white privilege is still manifesting itself in this election year and begins:
“For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.
White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fu*kin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fu*kin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot sh*t” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.”
So is America still denying the existence of white privilege which automatically allows one section of its community to be treated better than the others? Decide for yourself with the rest of the article.
This is Your Nation on White Privilege (The Red Room Blog)
As one who has spent the last 14 years promoting multiculturalism from the rooftops in the UK, through the only book on the subject and two annual national diversity awards, I have been pretty saddened this year to hear government ministers and others trumpeting that 'multiculturalism isn't working' or we 'cannot celebrate diversity because it encourages difference' and keeps us separate. But both statements are based upon ignorance and fear which does not really help a diverse community to move forward together.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating diversity or encouraging multiculturalism. What has been terribly wrong is a marked absence of respect on both sides of the cultural divide which makes appreciation difficult. The word 'respect' is glibly shouted by everyone in times of crisis, but it seems to be only in connection with our own needs and viewpoints and very little to do with others. We all seek respect, we feel we are denied it, we accuse each other of not giving it. But in reality, we are simply in love with the idea of the word itself, not its application. This could be because we really do not understand the meaning of this important word. Let's take some glaring examples of disrespect.
Negative media coverage: Black History Month emerged because of a lack of positive attention to minorities (that respect again!) by the media. Minorities in Britain are virtually invisible in every aspect of life except crime. We hear about them ad nauseam in relation to terrorism, guns, gangs and street crime but hardly in any other dimension. The only time minorities take centre stage is when something negative is being reported.
Black History Month was introduced to counteract that media exclusion, to give much needed positivity and visibility. Yet, there should be no need for a Black History month at all because there is just a flurry of activities in October (and February in the USA), a month saturated with events where everyone tries to be heard, to be significant and valued, and then nothing else for the other 11 months. Like tragic cuckoos, they coo loudly once, then go back inside their clocks for another year. What minorities need is to be treated ordinarily, like the majority community, with balance and value.
An exclusive and racist approach keeps minorities in the public eye as extraordinary and non-contributing beings who are simply taking from society. It uses them in situations that bolster national fear (immigration and crime) while ignoring the vast majority of law abiding, legal citizens quietly playing their part in their communities. Minorities are also used in a cynical way to show national pride abroad (as with the Olympics when multculturalism was suddenly cool and essential), but are largely excluded from the preparations, the promotion and the service contracts.
2. Exclusive labels: Black History Month celebrates black heritage and culture. This is not just a showcase but an educational opportunity for the White majority to learn about their minority neighbours. It also empowers Black people to take pride in their identity and thus a wholesome cause for celebration. There are also many pointedly 'Black', 'Asian' or 'Muslim' organisations which were created to encourage a positive identity and to guard against isolation, primarily because of their exclusion from the mainstream. Nothing wrong with that at all. However, how would members of minority groups feel if they suddenly saw signs and promotion for a 'White History Month', 'White Women Forum', the 'White Professional Association' or the 'White Entrepreneurs Club', labels which are clearly racist and exclusive? They would rightfully be up in arms. Where is the sensitivity (respect again) for the pointedly White exclusion in those labels? Yet, in a diverse society, such cultural sensitivities are very important if we are to learn about, value, and appreciate one another.
3. Lack of Recognition: Visit the website of a top national newspaper in the UK and, of its 24 writers paraded for the public, only one will be black. I won't even mention television and radio because commercial radio, in particular, is dismal when it comes to representation of their diverse audience among radio staff. Is it any wonder that the views in the media are so skewed against minorities when there is a basic lack of recognition for them, with hardly anyone speaking with any cultural knowledge?
That is why there is very little sensitivity (respect again) to minority views and feelings. Being on the negative end of any reporting, they are fair game for people seeking sensational headlines without any responsibility for the divisive consequences of their actions. The BBC has been recently accused of racism by a prominent writer in 21st century Britain. That is very sad today. The real worry is that if the BBC is still lagging behind in its own objectives, a service which is supposed to be serving, and representing, the whole community, what can one expect of lesser organisations?
Starting from that base, Black History Month should be scrapped and minority heritage and culture celebrated all year round, just like that of the white majority, but under a diversity label. For example, what about Our Diverse Music in January, Our Diverse Literature in February, Arts and Crafts in April, Dance in May, Diverse Foods in June?...You get the drift. It means that, instead of just focusing on minority crime and negative issues around minorities, the white-led media can actually begin to pay some proportional attention, throughout the year, to the positivity of being a minority, and the rich diversity of our nation, through the cultural exchange of knowledge, particularly encouraging involvement and patronage by white sponsors and patrons. That is the only way to make all people feel included, to engender loyalty and pride, and the main way to change white perception of their black neighbours.
It is also the only way for all British (and American) citizens, whatever their origins, to feel significant, appreciated, valued and included. In effect, to feel respected.
The short answer is: No, they can't.
You have to 'feel' something about a country to really appreciate it, and that takes time. One can learn the history of it, learn about the lifestyle, the crime, the values, but one can only appreciate what the country truly represents by being part of it for a while. We have to feel comfortable about that particular country, being in alignment with its aims, values and mores, before we can truly feel a part of it and what it represents for us. Otherwise one simply pays lip service to an ideal while feeling exactly the same. Worst still, one will also be caught in a kind of limiting limbo, while hankering after 'home'.
Another important element is the whole concept of 'Britishness'. With its obvious fluidity and continually changing mores, who defines it for whom? Politicians, civil servants, sociologists? What do we leave out of those lessons and what becomes acceptable? Reggae is now an embedded part of the British culture, despite its Jamaican heritage. Will that be part of any information, question or discussion provided, or will it be some outmoded monocultural interpretation of the essence of Britishness? And what about the elements of Britishness that will not make it to the lessons but which are regarded as equally integral to those who adhere to them and value them?
This is a cultural minefield, the effect of an evolving multicultural society, that only very courageous people would dare to tread.
The main effect of this split loyalty was that every time my British Sikh husband and I travelled anywhere with our family, he and the children would be whisked off to the fast queue while I was held back for a good old search for any ganga I was perceived to have, the dreaded 'weed' I might have carried back with me! Didn't matter that his suitcase could have been full of it too as he passed without scrutiny. I was Jamaican so I would be guilty. I soon learnt to give him all the extra bottles of rum we had that would have attracted attention! Being searched with little respect was so regular as to be ad nauseam. Having a Jamaican passport condemned me to the ritual of immigration racism and handy stereotype which I felt powerless to change. I certainly didn't feel 'British' when I was clearly excluded and being treated differently.
Then one morning 10 years later, I just didn't wish to be Jamaican anymore. I wanted a British passport. I had gradually realised, on subsequent visits back to the homeland, that I had little in common with the folks back 'home'. My perspectives had changed dramatically, yet with a slow realisation. I thought like a Brit and did things like a Brit. Fellow Jamaicans used to point at us in some mirth noting how we 'acted funny'. My children and immediate family also lived in Britain and I felt I truly 'belonged'. Until that Eureka moment of acceptance, that feeling of being at one with one's homeland, any talk of teaching 'Britishness' is sheer pie in the sky.
Today I adore Britain, I enjoy living here, and certainly wouldn't live anywhere else. Yet it took 10 years to have such a contented feeling of confidence and belonging in order to leave Jamaica behind. Sadly, many people never make that transition, depending on their experience. If it is negative, and they feel excluded, they tend to hanker forever after the perfect 'home' they left behind, one that would have been moving on with time, in reality, but had fossilised in their heads in an idealistic way - a situation that tends to have a tragic effect on their children's sense of self, identity and belonging too.
Pupils can learn what a narrow perspective of being 'British' is all about, from a dubious monocultural perspective, but they can never learn what it is to be truly British in the essential emotional terms of appreciation and love in that superficial process. Only time can teach them that. Nothing else.
Now that the new Coalition government seems to be sweeping the country with their reforms of one kind or another, will they also be tackling the last vestige of white supremacy while they are at it? The last insult to a multicultural society?
Last June, the usual crop of public honours recipients was announced in London. The Queen's Birthday and New Years' Honours Lists "reflect and pay tribute to outstanding achievement and service right across the community" says the blurb, but often one wonders which community it's dealing with, because the people who do receive the very top honours are seldom the ones who would be recognised by the general community.
The awards system, which still carries the obnoxious tag of 'Empire', and glory in its colonial legacy and traditions, is still alive and well when it should have been pensioned off years ago. With whiffs of honours for sale, it is about time this particular heritage is retired gracefully and something more reflective of modern society and true merit introduced in its place.
Britain prides itself on its equal opportunities and diverse multicultural society, yet, just casting a glance at the Knights and Dames honours, as in every past year, men outnumber women by nearly 3 to 1 and very few minorities achieve the very highest ranks like Commanders of Knights. From the spread of honours, one can assume that men are more deserving than women and Whites more deserving than Blacks. Nothing that has lasted so many years can still serve a different society today in an efficient way, and in the same form, when we have advanced in amazing ways and with constantly changing perspectives.
I mean, a lady running her business successfully for over 50 years gets a mere OBE. Yet still active in her nineties! What on earth does she have to do to get the CBE or Damehood? Another 50 years?
Honours an Anachronism?
We are now desperate for an inclusive MODERN awards system that one does not have to pay money for, which will apply right across the board to everyone in our multicultural society; one which will reflect the national pride we should feel for Britain TODAY, not yesterday. An award system to help bind the country together as one in a spirit of achievement and togetherness, not keep people artificially apart and stuck in yesteryear! Is that the best we can do now to recognise our people?
These awards are an anachronism in today's technological 21st century world. The quicker that is realised and acted upon, the more the credibility of the British honours system will be restored and the more reflective of its multicultural society it will gradually become.
(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).
(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).