When writing Can the Peace be Won? about the Middle East a few months ago, I said that the situation in Iraq was “multiculturalism gone wrong”. Now, it seems that I am not alone in this assessment. Saddam Hussein had his own “ways and means” of controlling Iraq for which he has been executed. Multiculture(al) (the adjective) and multiculturalism (the noun) have very different meanings that may escape some people. However, Freemasonry embraces all.
Until the 1970’s, the beginning of that period of social engineering, neither of the words were needed. Everybody that I knew understood that Australia had been populated from the earliest time of European settlement by people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. These included the Chinese people and Afghans, the Celts and Anglo Saxons and of course the post-WW2 immigration. So why do we need a word to say that we are a multi-cultural society?
It seems that to promote the political theory of “multiculturalism”, it was helpful to have a starting point by being able to say we were already a “multicultural society”. The theory is that Australia would be a better place with every ethnic group pursuing its own goals and objectives and each retaining its own value systems and traditions. The trouble is I do not know any country in the world where the theory works, except perhaps Malaysia.
I do not know any family, sporting team or business which is successful where there are internally substantially diverse goals and values. Appearance is important. I would not think of wearing my kilt or items of masonic or religious identification if I were going for a job interview or dealing with a customer – not would I wear my overalls for an interview for an office job (or my suit for a manual job). I would try and learn “the language” of the industry. I would not discuss my political views or family problems at work. I would always see what my boss wanted and how he acted and try to “fit in” and to further his objectives; to adopt the values and culture of the organisation. We all remember the old adage – “…when in Rome do as the Romans do”, a distant cry from the objectives of multiculturalism.
How, then, are Brethren from all races, cultures and religions absorbed into Freemasonry? The values and bonds of unity of Freemasonry are stronger than forces that divide. We are conduced to respect a man for what he is, not where he came from, where he worships or what he looks like. It is also important if we are to have national cohesion that all people fit in to society.
I think that Baroness Uddin, the only female Muslim member of the House of Lords, summed it up when she spoke after the bomb attack in the London Underground. She said that multiculturalism is fine but if it leads to separatism there is a problem. Do we accept the Bondi riots, confrontational dress and now the burning of bibles? Fortunately, Freemasonry does not have these problems.
Fraternal best wishes to all