"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Monday, July 30, 2007


“The Melting Pot”

If we were to count all unique fingerprints around the world, we would be drowned in a sea of diversity. Each of us has been born with an individuality in order to make a specific unique contribution to our society. In various communities found today, it is inevitable to have numerous encounters with people from different backgrounds simply by listening to the different languages spoken around us. As early as kindergarten, and through out our lifetime, we will be exposed to the diversity and cultural richness of the world. However, have we embraced this diversity and learned from our peers? It is now, more than ever, vital to profoundly understand all ethnical backgrounds and religious beliefs that exist. This can be accomplished by adopting new initiation and learning programs such as diversity training and conferences in order to eventually eliminate prejudice and discrimination.

The definition of diversity states that it is an inclusion of diverse people (as people of different races or cultures as well as language and lifestyle) in a group or organization. In addition to the more than obvious of diversity, there are also significant variations in the way societies organise themselves, share their perception of morality, and interact with their environment. However, uniformity, assimilation and separation alike have been predominant for several decades. A simple example, such as the Durham Report of Assimilation, posted in 1839 by Lord Durham, stating that the French speaking Canadian should be assimilated into the British English speaking population. However, more ethnicities have immigrated since then and forms a spectra of diversification not seen in the past. Therefore, it is essential to counter the cultural impoverishment and disassociate from assimilation and homogeny. Industrial, political, environmental as well as social realms will benefit from the acceptance and respect of diversity. It is often said that the major gap between cultures is the language barrier. However, with the emergence and popularization of linguistic learning demonstrates a multi-linguistic shift. Having the ability to speak in different tongues is not only highly valued but also more and more demanded in various fields. Learning different languages permits to engage in an in-depth discussion, which encourages and provides an opening to sharing of knowledge. Once a dialogue has been created, many opportunities may arise such a profound understanding of values, cultures and religious beliefs, which will eventually lead towards the acceptance of diversification.

In due course, bridging the gap between ignorance and cultural diversity is critical. Progressive movements have already been instilled in our communities such as art galleries portraying a cultural mosaic, diversity-training programs and conferences. For instance, the University of Ohio held a conference promoting diversity in their Diversity Action Plan, which promises the following: Progress towards a campus that fully welcomes difference will depend upon the ability of each individual to respect the diversity of others. In addition, many artistic creators depict a more unified and multifaceted world. “The Melting Pot” painting by Pedro Uhart illustrates how we can be part of a unified civil society where we can learn and discuss about specific diversity issues such as human rights which in fact relates to us all.

1 comment:

marie-france chartier said...

I just want to add two comments here.

First, I think that the fact that we now see movements of people in different areas such as in the arts that promote and embrace diversity is a good example of where out society is going terms accpetance and appreciation of various cultures and individuals.

Second, the mentalities have changed dramatically over time, even in our very owned provinve of Quebec. A few years ago, as many people can remember, there was a big debate over the French language and everything revolving over the 'law 101'. Today, in my opinion and from my personnal expericiences, both French and English Canadian are proud and happy to have 2 official languages. We have come to realize, as a nation, the importance and the richness of having multiple languages and ethnic backgrounds in one country. The problem Cananda now has is to how we can utilize this richness to our advantage and how we can learn for this diversity. This will have to be overcome by us, future managers and leaders, in a globalized world.