The Melting Plot

Britain has prided itself upon being a multicultural society, where people of all ethnic backgrounds and beliefs are welcome and respected. Above and beyond cultures, equality and opportunity must be there for all without bias. A very humane ideology, often termed the 'melting pot', however after the recent warning of Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, stating 'we have actually done something terrible to ourselves", it may fast be becoming a melting plot. Can we live together in peace when we have no commonly accepted understanding of what it means to be British? Today many Brits are feeling that the consequence of multiculturalism is that we no longer have a sense of national identity, meaning some specific traits and characteristics that make us feel united and proud to be members of British society. In the absence of such an identity, we will then either seek to identify solely with a social or religious community, or in the absence of that we may well just be living for ourselves. So where is the uniting principle in multiculturalism, something in the absence of which leaves us a divided and insecure nation. Searching for something to identify as British, Grieves refers to the "long-term inhabitants" and then to the "role of Christianity". Does that simply mean that he believes that the long term Christian inhabitants are the ones with the secret as to what it truly means to be British? Well, I'm not so sure about that. Hearing such words certainly makes me feel a little insecure, even though I am a long term white - British Hindu. At some point in time each of our forefathers arrived in Britain and I am sure they felt inspired and also insecure as new members of British society. I don't believe any one of us should forget that when we look upon those who have just arrived with great hope. To sit today and think "we're in, now shut the gates" doesn't sit well within the heart. Surely it must be common ideals, values and aspirations, that makes us British- not time spent or simply religion. I am sure we all largely agree that an open door policy is also not the solution, but "long term inhabitants" and "Christian heritage" are sadly just small minded remarks and do not have a place in modern thinking. How did the host community feel when Christianity arrived, how did my Irish Catholic great grandfather feel on arriving in Scotland and having to hide the fact he was a pape amongst a protestant community. Christianity also came at a time in History, so why should it define to those more recent or ancient faiths of Britain, what it is to be British. Is Britain and Britishness, the sum total of the people who live here at any given time or is it for a chosen people to decide? With multiculturalism there may be many problems, a lack of national identity and as Grieve rightly says an uncertainty about "British values". However, the fact remains that we are a multicultural society and together we have to manage change. With a passion we must promote a national identity that will make us proud. But, that will only come by working together to develop common understandings and values. For Grieve, as an Anglican, to identify the present problem as our inability to appreciate our "Christian Heritage" is unacceptable and will not do the new conservatives or Britain any good.

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