Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Good citizen responds to other good citizen...

This started out as a reply to jdid, but got so long I figured I'd hang it out here. I agree that the MMP system needs thinking through. That said, I'm convinced that some mix of first-past-the-post AND proportional representation would be better than the present system. For one thing, it could allow folks to vote for a candidate of one party in their riding, and a different party as their party of choice, based on platform, which is what I would have done in the last election, had I been able to. I also agree that a lot of new immigrants remain in "little enclaves or ghettos", as you put it. But that's not something new. Some people in my neighbourhood who have lived and worked here for 40 years still speak no English. It often takes a generation or more for a degree of cultural shift to be effected, and public schools are an important part of that exposure to other cultures, other ways of life, which is why the public school curriculum needs a massive overhaul, so that it addresses Earth of 2007 in the physical sciences, with a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability, and Earth of 2007 in the social sciences and the humanities, with an emphasis on sustainability there as well. Do any schools teach African or Indian or Chinese or Latin American or Caribbean or Slavic History? Are there any that teach Arabic and Cantonese and Swahili? Religion enters the picture, of course, and often, inevitably, not just religion but religious politics, and THAT can create huge problems. Did you see the story about the Samaritans in one of papers in the past couple days? Because of religious rules that oblige them to marry within the group, the Samaritan community has virtually destroyed itself, intermarriage having produced people with all kinds of handicaps because the gene pool is so run down. It's a good, albeit extreme, example of what we are talking about. (In fact, it supports the case that you are making.) There are studies that show that young people are more open to new cultures, learnings and experiences than older ones, and the new technologies open the world to all inquiring minds in ways previously unthinkable. Those two things will inevitably promote a degree of 'mixing of the pot', and, married to a good school curriculum, might achieve something that produces the openness that we have to some degree in the Caribbean. We can keep talking about this for a long time, I know. I just have kept saying, all the time that I've been here, that with an advanced degree, English as my native language, and friends and family in the community, negotiating the systems has sometimes been a huge challenge. If I had not completed high school, didn't speak the language and knew no one at all, I might find getting to know 'the culture' (whatever that is) a daunting challenge.


Jdid said...

I cant argue with you. You got me with this one 'It often takes a generation or more for a degree of cultural shift to be effected,'.

Given experience and observation I couldnt agree with you more on this. Strange that I never thought about it that way before. Thanks for the insight.

clarabella said...

Hi jdid:
I think a lot depends on the cultural dynamics of the place one grows up in. The Caribbean is a fluid series of societies where nothing is strange because people came and found other different people (including all forcibly transported Africans, who we often forget were not a monolithic group but came from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds) and that movement, in and out, has been going on for centuries. We are much to be envied, in that regard, for at our best we are open, receptive, slow to judge.