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  • Writer's pictureDave Taylor

Moving Toward an Integrated Society

(Embedded hyperlinks provide references and further insights to this article’s content.)

(Some links may be blocked due to increasing government Internet censorship)


Let me start off by stating that I had huge reservations about publishing this article. Not because of the message, or having second thoughts about the content… but about the anticipated perception and reaction from those who would seek to silence any differentiated viewpoint from their own extreme positions. Not that I am afraid of defending my viewpoints, or entering into an intelligent discussion, but apprehensive around the extreme actions of some groups that would try to silence and discredit those with differing opinions, causing serious difficulties for those who are not perceived to be part of the current social agenda. Unfortunately, the Cancel Culture’ is alive and well and looking for its next victim. At what point do you weigh the potential consequences against the importance of one’s ability to exercise free speech? What finally motivated me were these words from the great Martin Luther King Jr. … “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”


The anticipated perception and reaction from those who would seek to silence any differentiated viewpoint from their own extreme positions is potentially a very damaging situation to those who wish to engage in honest and open discussions. Many have lost jobs, friends, have been crucified on social media, and been made a pariah, simply by expressing a personal opinion. In an environment where we should promote and celebrate free speech, many people are currently experiencing a genuine fear of speaking their minds,and forced to either keep quiet, or follow the government’s and the media’s slanted current mantra of political correctness. Even though some opinions may be shared by a majority, it is the militant minority that threatens to leverage social media and biased news broadcasts to take down those whose opinions don’t fall in line with their agenda. This is a dangerous road we are travelling. When individuals are afraid to share their true thoughts, it prevents discussion, balanced debate, expansion of knowledge, and reflective assessment of the information before us.


The World Economic Forum is promoting the idea that ‘free speech’ is dangerous because it is ‘legal’. (Ref:https://slaynews.com/news/wef-professor-warns-free-speech-leading-harm-because-legal/)

Jacinda Arden, then Prime Minister of New Zealand, petitioned the United Nations for a World-Wide censorship system to combat ‘disinformation’. The catch is that their definition of ‘disinformation’ is anything that is contrary to their own narrative, regardless of whether the information is factual or not.

(Ref: https://www.eutimes.net/2022/09/new-zealand-pm-jacinda-ardern-demands-global-censorship-system-to-control-speech/)


Even our sacred university environments are experiencing a smothering of diverse thoughts and perspectives through aggressive protests to prohibit dissenting speakers from engaging in dialogue. To verify, I am fully supportive of the movement to extinguish hate speech, as that rhetoric is harmful and has no place in an intelligent forum. Although, just because a viewpoint differs from your own does not give you the right to create an aggressive environment to stop all opposing viewpoints from being shared. A narrow band of thought that is deemed as permissible in a society tempts very undesirable consequences in a free and open democracy.

References:

· Jordan Peterson and the big mistake of university censors

· Laurier University asks court to dismiss Jordan Peterson lawsuit

· University of Calgary professor says he fails students who cite Jordan Peterson

· Queen’s University students protest against professor, Lindsay Shepherd

· Wilfrid Laurier professor withdraws from free speech task force in protest

· Controversial activist 'bullied' off college campus by students

· Ethics Professor Fired

· Prominent Academic Cancelled


Not only academia is being affected by this progressive narrowing of expression, social media isn’t helping ‘the conversation’ either, as it is actually making it narrower. In a study by PEW Research, they found that people were less willing to discuss their true feelings on a controversial topic on social media than in a personal face-to-face conversation. The potential result of this type of environment is a narrow perspective being shared widely on the Internet and fueled through social media, creating a skewed representation of the overall population’s true opinions and feelings on topics, and an inability to engage in a balanced and fulsome discussion.


I was very disappointed in the mainstream media’s decision to selectively report on news stories that involved minorities when the story didn’t promote the current extreme social agendas. For example, the murder of a five year-old white boy, Cannon Hinnant in North Carolina in 2020, by a 25 year-old black man. Only after an uproar on the Internet for lack of reporting did some of the mainstream networks report the incident days later.


We all need to be able to share our opinions and be open to the opinions of others to truly come to a mutually supportive understanding of our shared environment. Unfortunately, the current state of affairs is not the balanced platform from which to have those meaningful, open and honest discussions.

I have travelled the world and have met people of all colours, races, and creeds … and I am proud to say that I call many of them friends. I have met people I truly admire and respect, and I have come into contact with people who, frankly, I am glad I will never interact with again. My assessment of each individual was never based on what colour their skin was, or what god they believed in, but how they represented themselves as a person, how they treated others, how they treated me, and how they responded and interacted with me in sincere conversation. Their behavior as a person in their own circle of influence and the view that others held of the individual were also a testament to the individual’s track record with the ‘Golden Rule’.


Now, all that being said, if a person is behaving very badly and is then called out for that behavior, and they respond with, “you must be a racist”, then I must respond with… “the fact that you are black, white, brown, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, indigenous, gay, a man, a woman, or transgender is not the issue here, nor have those or other elements of your physical makeup had any influence on my opinion of you. It’s not because of those traits I am choosing to criticize your behaviour, since I believe that those elements of your individualism are what make you interesting … no, it is just because you are acting like an ass!”


Those that pull the ‘race card’ when they are criticized for behaving badly, or acting inappropriately must check their perspective to engage in some true self-reflection that is not based on their race, colour, or creed … but rather their inner-self, the part of a person that transcends their physical appearance or cultural membership. In fact, when they use racial discrimination, and threaten a person with being labeled a racist as a defense for behaving like asses, they are actually demonstrating racism themselves. A little ironic, isn’t it?


The reality is that there are bad apples present in every categorized group within societies and cultures. There are bad politicians, there are bad police, there are bad teachers, there are bad nurses, there are bad white people, and there are bad black people. The fact that they are white, black, a police officer, a nurse, a man, a woman, or whatever, is not the thing that makes them bad…. it is more to the core of who they are as a person. For example, just because you have the title of Medical Doctor, does that make you a good person? What do you call a medical student who graduates last in their class? “Doctor”. Again, would that doctor’s actions reflect on the entire class if they were a bad doctor? Of course not. Assess each person based on their personality, attitudes, their actions, how they treat others, and their inner-self… not simply by their title or outward appearance.


Our society has never been more divided. The ‘diversity and inclusion’ movement has done more to create distance between cultural groups and segments of our society than ever before. Individuals are now first seen as black, white, trans, gay, vaxxed, unvaxxed, left-wing, extremists, racists, misogynists, anti-science, conspiracy theorists, and the list goes on.... before they are seen as people and who they truly are as an individual.


Politicians have played their part in promoting this divisive agenda by vilifying any group that contradicts their own political narrative, regardless of the facts. Trudeau is a prime example of this tactic through his treatment of the Ottawa Freedom Convoy and the unjustified implementation of the Emergencies Act in Canada to seize unprecedented control over the population.


Trudeau openly supported the farmer protests in India, condemning the Indian government for crackdowns, while at the same time he crushed peaceful Trucker protests in Ottawa, abusing and arresting Canadians using violence, and seizing bank accounts of anyone who supported the Freedom Convoy protest.


Also, his self-proclaimed support of protests such as “Black Lives Matter”, and non-support of the Trucker protest is confusing given the violent history of the BLM movement compared to the peaceful Trucker protest in Ottawa.


I understand the main purpose and objective of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, and ‘yes’, there does need to be a change to ensure equality and fair treatment for everyone in society. Everyone! Some of the actions by a subset of law enforcement have been horrendous, and challenge any rational person’s sense of reasonable judgement, as well as giving rise to questions around a blatant abuse of power. There are also many good individuals who are being clumped into the raging criticism of law enforcement as a whole. The acts of some bad people are tainting the image of the entire category. Again, it’s not the fact that the offending individuals were police, it’s because they were bad people, who had horrible judgement, or were grossly ignorant. “Yes”, those individuals may have also been racist, and that speaks to the person, not the category within which they were represented.


In 2016 Black Lives Matter (BLM) called for the banning of all police from walking in and supporting the publicly funded Gay Pride parade in Toronto. An example of the Pride and BLM leadership painting all police with the same brush, because of the damaging actions of a few cops. If one black man robs a convenience store, and the owner bans all blacks from his store, then that is racism. The wholesale condemnation of all blacks based on the criminal actions of one black man is racism and should not be tolerated. Why then doesn’t the same hold true for the public perception by BLM of police? Don’t blame the category, recognize that there are people in every category that misrepresent the group through personal flaws and inappropriate actions. Faulting the category of a society or a culture leads to racism, segregation, and increased division between the groups.


Allegations of systemic racism within law enforcement and other elements of societies around the globe are also a concern and must be addressed through reviews of appropriate leadership and enforceable policies that promote equity and fair treatment of all people. By not addressing developing sub-cultures of racism within organizations, the threat of evolving counter-culture attitudes may be perpetuated over time if proactive leadership does not take appropriate action. It does seem that the RCMP are recognizing a sub-culture within its ranks that needs to be addressed. It is also interesting to read the RCMP’s perspective on their methodologies and resulting statistics, stating that they until now, have not collected racial information to provide further insight to arrest and interaction data. A new initiative will have the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police work with Statistics Canada to start collecting race-based crime data to provide more insight to the interactions between victims, criminals, and law enforcement.


Do certain social or political categories tend to attract individuals who may be more prone to racism, thus having a larger representation of racists within that group? Of course, this may be claimed for some of the extreme groups found around the globe on both sides of the political spectrum. But, for example, making a conclusion that because an individual is a police officer, they are racist is simply not true.


Unconscious bias definitely plays a role in perceptions, decisions, and opinions and carries with it potential claims of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Social media’s divisive cancel culture, and left-wing extreme ideologies have already served to create a further divide between differentiated communities, social, and cultural groups. Stifling thoughts and canceling opinions of individuals, condemning them and labeling them as being members of evil groups solely because they are seen as holding contrary views to the acceptable political narrative is dangerous and threatens any open and free democracy.


Each individual should be assessed as an individual, whether within a job application, their perceived membership in a particular social group, or as part of a social interaction, based on their personal traits, true capabilities, adaptability, creativity, and the list goes on…. rather than just the colour of their skin, gender, sexual preference, or religious belief.


My fear is that current mainstream media and narrow view social activism are fueling the potential for greater unconscious bias. While on the other hand, positive bias applied solely because an individual is part of a perceived marginalized group will in turn disadvantage other groups, thus creating animosity and resentment causing even more opportunities for conflict. And in the end, positive bias may also be detrimental to the perceived marginalized individual who may not be adequately prepared to succeed in the situation they have been awarded.


The concept of affirmative action and organizations setting hiring practices with a goal of representation within government and corporations based on the demographic makeup of the related geographic region is in itself a prejudicial practice. For the concept to really be substantiated, one would need to assume that all people possessed the same skill sets, knowledge, intelligence, and capacities as a starting point in order to base selection for positions based on gender, race, or creed. Of course, that is not the case. People vary in personal attributes within and across race and gender. Taking those physical and cultural factors away, selection based on the true skills, knowledge, capacities, and personality traits needed to succeed in the position should determine successful candidates. At what point do we stop using physical and cultural characteristics for position selection? Tall, short, skinny, fat, brown eyes, blue eyes, blonde hair, brunette, left-handed, right-handed…? I know it seems a little ridiculous…. Exactly! Deciding on diversity over competence will eventually result in lower performance levels for both the hiring organization as well as the individual who was placed into a position where they were possibly ill-prepared to succeed and set up to be criticized.


What if our professional sports teams were required to ensure that their player rosters were consistent with the demographic makeup of Canada and the USA? Well, the NHL would need to recruit a lot more Americans and blacks, and the NBA would need way more white guys. Does this seem unreasonable? Why? Because the players are selected for the overall team’s peak performance based on their individual skills and athletic abilities. The predominant representation of blacks within the NBA is a result of those individuals earning their position based on skill and hard work, not because of their skin colour. Why then should this not also hold true for other areas like business, government, and education, where an individual’s skills, knowledge, and proficiencies determine the best person for the job, and not irrelevant inclusion targets based on race, ethnicity, and sexual preference, which are in themselves racist.


Prime Minister Trudeau’s experience after selecting his cabinet based on gender and race, found his cabinet’s scorecard to be less than stellar. Since 2015, the Trudeau Liberals have been mired in scandal, resignations, and controversy. One of the biggest early challenges for Trudeau’s government were the resignations over the SNC-Lavalin affair of Jane Philpott, a very respected Minister of Health, Indigenous Services, as well as the Treasury Board President, and Jody Wilson-Raybould, Trudeau’s pick for Attorney General. While the Attorney General was able to secure a great deal of public support for her strong character, morals and convictions throughout the whole media frenzy during her highly publicized departure, it is still somewhat ironic that Trudeau’s diversity pick for Minister of Justice and Attorney General, an indigenous female, ended up causing him a big piece of his political capital.


Politics aside, the goal of equality and fair treatment of all people is something we should all support. The poor treatment of many racial and religious groups throughout history across many different cultures is a reality and recognizing those travesties that have occurred around the world is an important process for each society to analyze and come to grips with so as to address the root causes and to move forward supporting equity and human decency.


The treatment of indigenous peoples in Canada has a very shameful past, and those specific actions absolutely need to be identified and condemned to ensure that they never happen again. The continued shaming of people today, who had nothing to do with the actions of past governments, is not supportive of moving forward to achieving an integrated and harmonious community.


While it is important not to ignore history, it is necessary to make sure we are basing public opinion and government policies on actual facts and not on emotional stories and supposition. For example, the Kamloops Residential School narrative of 200+ indigenous child graves having been found has been a significant issue for media claims of genocide aimed at Canadian governments, religious institutions, and Canada’s white population as a whole. The world was horrified at the news surrounding this apparent travesty, but were 200+ bodies actually discovered? No. The researcher who used ground penetrating radar used to make the claim, based her assertion on data that many confess may have a very different explanation for the radar readings. Have any bodies actually been found or exhumed? Not as of 2023, and there are no plans to proceed with excavation to verify the claims that have given rise to Canadian shame and the calls for cancelling Canada Day celebrations. Do we really want to know the truth, or not?

Ref: “Biggest Fake News Story in Canada” (NY Times, May 2022)


Further segregating the Canadian population into distinct groups perpetuates division, conflicting attitudes and beliefs toward social and cultural categories. I also submit the divided Canada-Quebec relationship as another example, creating and recognizing a ‘distinct society’ ... but that is a topic for another day. I know that ‘integration’ and ‘assimilation’ are forbidden words when it comes to solutions of support for the indigenous peoples of Canada, but the more we make each group distinct from the other based on elements such as race and colour, and dedicate more exclusive government funding aimed at segregated cultural segments of the population, the more we risk deepening the divide between the groups.


There are many challenges facing Canada around relationships with indigenous peoples, including the very serious situation concerning the blockage of national rail lines by indigenous groups in early 2020, protesting the development of oil pipelines. These actions of extreme indigenous activists have since been overshadowed by the 2020 pandemic, and for the indigenous population, this is probably a good thing. I realize that there was no easy answer on how to approach this particular stand-off, and that there were many differing opinions on how to achieve a successful and peaceful resolution. Nevertheless, the extreme actions of various indigenous groups around the pipeline issue negatively impacted the Canadian economy and affected many everyday Canadians. I am sure that this conflict did nothing to improve the divide between these cultural groups.


On a trip to New Zealand in early 2020, I took the opportunity to investigate the indigenous structure and inter-relationships within this multi-cultural country, which has many parallels to Canada. I will share information and make a few simple observations based on my personal experience in New Zealand, and fully admit that my observations are solely based on a short three-week interaction and exploration into a very complex society. I leave it to the reader to draw any comparisons and potential applications to other jurisdictions attempting to address harmony with indigenous populations.


A clean, safe, reverent, progressive society… the New Zealand way of life is about not only respect for each other, but also for the environment which we all share. The “Tiaki Promise” … is a national initiative that calls for the care of New Zealand’s land, sea, wildlife, and culture… now, and for the future. In addition to the thorough screening all visitors to the country must go through, they are also asked to commit to the Taiki Promise… leaving New Zealand as they have found it. For example, you won’t find garbage cans in any of the national parks, since everyone must deal with their own garbage. Yet, the parks are very clean, and I can tell you that I did not observe one piece of randomly discarded garbage in any of the parks that I visited. For that matter, after driving nearly 4,000 kilometres through the north and south islands, my experience was that all roads were also free from garbage.


The Taiki Promise is deeply rooted in indigenous Māori, European, Asian, and Pacific Island cultures and is consistent with the indigenous perspective on environmental stewardship. This is just one of the initiatives in the country that provides an opportunity for all ‘Kiwis’, (slang for New Zealand nationals), and visitors to exhibit common mutually respectful behavior.


I was very impressed with the way that the indigenous peoples are celebrated and respected in a variety of ways throughout the country. Indigenous names proliferate New Zealand landmarks big and small, from street names to national parks. Also, there is a national holiday on February 6th, “Waitangi Day”, recognizing the signing of the treaty in 1840 between the British Crown and the Chiefs of the Māori peoples.

While in Dunedin, I met with the Director of Global Engagement and the manager of Curriculum and Culture at Otago Polytechnic to learn more how post-secondary education is playing a part in the New Zealand cultural integration and about their initiative of recognizing indigenous Māori content across academic program curriculum.


The intent is to ensure that elements of the Māori culture are integrated into course curriculum, providing an awareness and appreciation of the Māori culture for non-Māori, and a cultural contextual perspective that may be applied to various learning outcomes within the curriculum, providing an enhanced learning opportunity for all students.


To successfully integrate indigenous content, there must be a serious effort to deeply understand the nuances of the cultural content by curriculum designers and faculty on how it enhances the learning outcomes of the curriculum into which it is infused. Creating a synergistic effect on the overall academic experience, in many cases, indigenous content can provide a unique perspective from which to assess academic content.


The Otago Poly staff shared a perspective that resonated with me. Rather than look at bringing one culture over to the other side of a bridge of understanding and deference, they look at a relationship that works toward meeting in the middle of the bridge in a mutually respectful society.


On the surface, the progressive development of the social integration of cultures in New Zealand appears to be significantly ahead of other countries, namely Canada, where initiatives like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are trying to promote a similar agenda. However, it is not all perfect in New Zealand either. There are still aspects of discontent within some of the Māori communities based on their feeling that the Māori were not treated fairly after the ‘Treaty of Waitangi’ signed in 1840.


The Maori chiefs of the “Ngāi Tahu” launched a grievance under the treaty, which took nearly 150 years to resolve. Three Māori tribes in the Dunedin area rotate the responsibility of recognizing their success in their grievances through the Ngāi Tahu festival. This year the festival was in Takou Marae near Dunedin, and I was fortunate enough to attend and experienced a display of Māori culture, pride, and true hospitality.


Sport has a way of communicating across diverse populations, and can create an environment where those cheering for the same team can forget personal, political, and cultural differences. One of the most popular sports in New Zealand is rugby, with a widely celebrated team being the “All Blacks”. At the beginning of each game, the players come together to perform the ‘Haka’, a dramatic Māori tradition. The ‘Haka’ has real cultural significance, and it truly sets the tone for the game and brings fans of all cultural backgrounds together.


Creating government funding exclusively for distinct cultural groups seems to be a trend for our politicians trying to win favour with identifiable groups of voters. Does this actually promote social cohesion within a multi-cultural society, or does it promote further segregation? The segregation of blacks within Canadian society is part of our past that was real and something we surely are not proud of and surely do not want to revisit. Harken back to the white-black segregation of the school systems in the USA. Fighting for integrated equal rights for both black and white in schools, community services, and government representation was a righteous and hard-fought battle… and now we want to go in the opposite direction and segregate? Universities Canada has produced a position paper on how they will attempt to respond to the needs of the indigenous people while supporting an inclusive approach with all stakeholders, which I think is a step in the right direction.


The 2007 Ontario provincial election was highlighted by a ‘faith-based’ school funding proposal within the Conservative platform of candidate John Tory. Really? I know that the separation of church and state is more of a USA position, but Canada should learn from the premise that it is built upon. Many political polls had the Liberal party in decline, and the election was the Conservative’s to lose, and lose they did. The issue of ‘faith-based’ funding resonated negatively with the general public, and rightly so, and resulted in another term for the McGuinty Liberal party. In fact, this result is also further evidence that there needs to be serious consideration to review the current segregated public and separate school systems in the province of Ontario. One funded public system free from religious identification and segregation. But I digress.


The Trudeau government’s funding announcement available only to young black entrepreneurs looking to start a new business is another example of government segregation and discrimination. While I am sure this program was initiated with the best of intentions, the more we identify groups solely by their race and make special provisions for those groups, the more we promote segregation and deepen the divide between the races. Government program money should be available to all taxpayers and Canadian citizens who seek assistance in attempting to earn a living and to support the Canadian economy, regardless of their skin colour. This type of racist approach by government is contributing to the current racial segregation that is moving the potential for an integrated society in the wrong direction.


My point here is, the more we identify groups by colour, race, and religion… and create government support to promote further segregation, we shouldn’t be surprised when conflicts arise between the mutually exclusive groups. Of course, a celebration of heritage and cultural richness is something that makes life interesting, and that celebration should be open to all people regardless of their own individual makeup. I have enjoyed being a part of many culturally based celebrations, and learning about the anthropology and history of cultural development of many cultural groups around the world. I truly believe that my perspective on people in general has become more enlightened because of the opportunities I have been privileged to experience.


The unrest in the USA between white and black is accentuated by specific categorization of race. The racial fire is being fanned by inept leadership which is blind to the need for a dialogue that is required to speak to all groups with respect to the concerns that are necessary for the foundation of a peaceful, respectful, and functional society. Enough said about that. This is the basis for a series of articles.


I had the opportunity to live for two years in Saudi Arabia, leading a project to establish college campuses to prepare Saudi nationals for important employment opportunities in the emerging areas of need within the Saudi economy. Before I left for Saudi, many of my friends and family were sincerely concerned about my decision to go and thought that I was putting myself in danger. What they knew about Saudi was largely as a result of the 9-11 terrorist event and media stories about Saudi religious extremism, cultural and religious repression of women, and public executions.


Again, understanding the true background and foundation for behaviour is key to cultural appreciation and the development of our own personal perspectives and attitudes. Putting social and cultural facts into perspective allows for the appreciation of individuals, rather than assessing all people with one narrow opinion. Let’s provide a little context for Saudi Arabia.


The Ottoman rule of the middle east ended with World War one, and an Arab led revolt resulting in a united Arab state being declared, with British support. Further conflicts within the Arab states of the 1920’s resulted in victory by Ibn Saud and an amalgamation creating Saudi Arabia in 1932. To put Saudi cultural development into further context, one needs to remember that Saudi Arabia has only been a global economic player since the discovery of their immense oil deposits in the late 1930’s. Overnight they went from Bedouins to multi-billionaires, recognized by the global economic community. Arguably, Saudi culture was not been afforded the time for cultural development for that type of economic leap in such a short period of time. Saudi’s cultural evolution is seen as lagging behind their status and position in the global economic community by those nations that experienced a much longer time period within which to modernize systems, adjust attitudes, develop beliefs, evaluate perceptions, and accept shifts within their own cultures. This aspect has certainly contributed to the outside world’s criticism of Saudi Arabia.


The opinions of those harshly criticizing Saudi Arabia’s lack of modern cultural norms are quick to forget their own country’s historical transgressions.


A few examples:

• Canada has a history of forced sterilization of Indigenous women.

• Women only received the right to vote federally in Canada in 1919, and provincially in Quebec in 1940. It wasn’t until 1929 that Canadian women were legally declared ‘persons’ and could hold a Senate seat.

Based on data from 2010, when it comes to violent crime, Mexico is ranked 3rd, the USA is ranked 14th, Canada is ranked 80th, while Saudi Arabia is ranked 102nd.

• Canada practiced public executions up until 1869, and capital punishment until 1962.

• According to Amnesty International (2019), China is the leader in executions and death sentencing by far, with Iran, Iraq, Egypt and the USA, joining Saudi Arabia in the top 6.

• A little research will also provide some insight to the many crimes of the British empire… which include; the Boer concentration camps of South Africa (1900); Aden’s torture centres of Yemen (1966);Amritsar massacre-India (1919).

• British support for Wahhabism after WW1 and the creation of Saudi Arabia contributed to segments of Muslim extremism.

• France’s colonial-era crimes in Algeria.

• Germany’s world war record and the crimes of the Nazis.


So, is Saudi a little behind in cultural development when it comes to comparisons to other more developed nations? Probably. Nevertheless, time is needed for true cultural evolution as demonstrated by Canada, Britain, the USA, France, Germany, and many more nations considered to be the reference point for modern cultural norms.


Getting back to my original point, my Middle East experience allowed me to interact with a number of cultures; Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Egyptian, Qatari, Iraqi, Turkish, Emirati, and Omani to name a few. I met many Arabs who I continue to be in contact with today. They were truly good people and treated me with sincere respect, which I happily reciprocated. I came to understand Islam more deeply and the foundation of their belief system. While I do not hold the same beliefs, I have gained valuable insights to assist me in understanding their perspective and individual decisions for life practice.


I also have a better understanding of the cultural contexts within which the vast majority of Saudi behaviour is rooted, and also some insight into the tragic acts of some of the misguided Muslim extremist groups. There is extremism in every culture, and the extreme fringes should not define the represented culture as a whole. While there are extreme right-wing elements of Christianity represented by groups such as white supremacists, and the KKK, they largely do not define Christians, nor should the reprehensible actions of some Roman Catholic priests.


I recognized that some of the behaviour I observed while in Saudi was contrary to my own beliefs and cultural references. I also realized that every culture develops and evolves over time and that looking to the core of each individual is still an important aspect of harmonious interactions and true mutual assessment between people within an integrated society.


An open, honest conversation is needed between all groups, to bring into the open those elements that are dividing society for discussion and resolution. However, for fear of violating political correctness and suffering damaging backlash from media and special interest groups, many feelings and sincere attitudes go unspoken and fester away inside individuals creating even more animosity on the inside while outward appearances seem complicit. Is the fear to speak one’s mind putting free speech at risk in today’s extreme politically correct environment? It appears so.


Of course, racism does exist, and should not be tolerated in any situation. Unfortunately, I am afraid that radical activism, and the many ongoing disruptive protests, along with the mainstream media onslaught of selective reporting on the plight of many self-identified segregated social groups are doing more harm than good. It is only worsening the situation, creating an even deeper divide between the social groups. I would even go as far to say that these actions are spawning animosity in people who before were either supportive of social integration or decidedly neutral on the issue.


Many current actions are actively segregating our society in the name of inclusion, which seems ironic and even contradictory at its core. Rather than bringing everyone together as a unified and integrated society, many institutions are adopting racialized spaces to further identify individuals specifically by their race and to prohibit those who don’t fit a racial profile from participating. Isn’t that blatant racism and damaging to actually bringing people together. A recent example is the creation of a ‘BIPOC Study Hall’ at Brock Universityin St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. In their news release Brock claims that the new service “enhances academic resources and supports” for students, but fail to mention that it is race-restricted. There seems to be a misguided ‘woke’ trend in Ontario Universities, as further evidenced by Guelph University’s yoga sessions only for ‘Black Identifying’ students, staff, and faculty. Really? How is this a measure of inclusion?


It is unfortunate that a small segment of the overall population’s racist actions and attitudes are affecting the larger population, institutional, and government policies resulting in non-racist individuals becoming more frustrated with being lumped into the racist group. Ultimately, this frustration is promoting a divide between the cultural and ethnic groups where one did not previously exist.


Art has always been seen as sacred and part of a progressive society’s freedom of expression and the ability to provide creative ways to communicate thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Well, the performing arts, namely the motion picture industry, represented by the Academy Awards has recently placed inclusion checkpoints to be used for pictures that hope to be nominated for Best Picture. No longer is the writer, director, producer free to express through an artistic lens. They must first fit into the inclusion categories as defined by the Academy.


Respected and intelligent members of groups that are perceived as socially disadvantaged express their views on many of the issues that we are faced with today. It is interesting to see their perspectives on the current protests and the focussed media messages we are continually bombarded with. Again, it’s not the underlying purpose of ‘equity and fair treatment of all’ that is at issue here, it is the approach that these extremist protestors are inflicting on society that is creating a larger divide.


In a 2005 interview with Mike Wallace (a white journalist), Morgan Freeman (a black actor), was asked, “How are we going to get rid of racism?” … to which Morgan Freeman quickly responded, “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” Truer words have never been spoken. The very wise statement by Morgan Freeman goes to the heart of the issue, calling on everyone to see people as people, looking past their skin colour, religion, gender, height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, whatever... and ask yourself, “is this person a good person?”


When did “All lives matter” become a racist comment? In an interview with Muhammad Ali’s son in June 2020, the New York Post quotes Ali Jr. as saying… “It’s not just black lives matter, white lives matter, Chinese lives matter, all lives matter, everybody’s life matters. God loves everyone — he never singled anyone out. Killing is wrong no matter who it is.”


In a debate during the fall of 2020, John Horgan, the leader of the NDP Party, in British Columbia Canada, said in referring to his time as a young lacrosse player with a variety of ethnic teammates … “I did not see colour”, which he was raked over the coals for. Wait, isn’t that the goal? Horgan went on to explain that, “I felt that everyone around me was the same… to see everyone equally”. He was forced to come back after the debate and formally apologize for his remarks. Really? Extreme social groups claimed he was blind to the plight of people of colour, and because of his ‘white privilege’ had insulted the various racial groups. This type of rhetoric will surely not help the ultimate goal of an integrated society.


If we are ever going to reach a point where racism is a thing of the past, isn’t the goal to see everyone as the same, regardless of their skin colour? It’s skin colour for God’s sake! An external physical trait, like hair colour, and eye colour. Look to the heart of an individual, beyond their skin colour, beyond their gender, look past their race, and truly look at who that person is, regardless of any social or cultural group within which they may be represented. If you disagree with them, that’s OK, debate reveals differing perspectives and opinions promoting intellectual growth and a deeper understanding of the world in which we all live and share. At the end of the day, if we strive for an integrated social environment where we can celebrate diversity as an element of enrichment to everyone’s quality of life, then racism may be something that eventually fades away.


As I started this article, I will end with a quote from the wise Martin Luther King Jr.


“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)


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