Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tolerance in 2015. Montreal and the Federal Elections

The last Canadian federal elections (#elxn42) has brought the issue of Canadian multiculturalism to the fore front again. Some parties used negative media to portray a Muslim tiny minority as a threat to the general public. This sign (#Niqab) has been used as a weapon by the Conservative Party of canada (#CPC), and was also used as a mercy pill for #NDP during the elections (#elxn42). The party that was defending the freedoms of all Canadians lost a major electoral share because it preferred to advance the constitutional freedoms above all political agendas. 

Why Tolerance is rare those days?
North American cosmopolitan cities are the melting pot of the world. They attract immigrants from all countries and all cultures. The multiculturalism of this continent comes with struggles for both majority populations as well as visible minorities, especially when not treated with #tolerance and understanding where cultural differences and traditions are concerned. Montreal has been a hot bed for intolerance during the past few years. Although, the city is still one of the best multicultural hubs to live and enjoy life within its folds.

Tolerance is very important in a multicultural society such as ours in Montreal or in North America in general. New immigrants (or older immigrants even the whites who came few centuries earlier) enter this society and have been surprised by the difficulty to integrate in this highly mosaic culture that is so unique and different from any other human culture on earth. This task alone is stressful and leaves immigrants feeling homesick and lost in this foreign panoramic puzzle. I envy the aboriginals for their patience with all those waves of new comers since the 16th century.

What makes it even harder is the negative attitude of some who treat every new comer as an outsider with certain level of disrespect sometimes just because of their cultural differences.

However, the society in general is still tolerant and favor multiculturalism. In that, people do still accept the cultural differences and welcome their integration instead of opposing them. For example, some visible minorities dress differently than the average Montrealer. A tolerant view would help a person to accept these differences and even motivate her/him to learn more about this new other culture. On the other hand, an intolerant view would come from a person who gawked at the differences in clothing, even poking fun or performing an equally humiliating gesture toward the immigrant, new comer, aboriginal person or even another (so called) "de souche". 

By accepting the differences of others, our country thrive and prosper. Canadians punished Harper's game with the Niqab. It truly reflects the entrenched values of Canadians who accept each other and are willing to work together to save the country. The Niqab dillema will not solve an economical crisis. It can hide the impact of bad politics and can advance hatred.
The "so called" land of the free was developed way in the snowy North as an outlet for people to escape when faced with religious or cultural persecution in their native lands. Montrealers, Canadians and North Americans in general, have embraced these differences and built their society on such tolerant values. Without such values, Canada will not be the Canada we know today. Accepting people regardless of their ethnic background is crucial because it is an inalienable right given to each of us as citizens. Each culture gives something to this unique society, which makes it better as it becomes more diverse.
On the other hand, new immigrants and new comers who enjoy the constitutional rights of being free to live the way they like need to do their part as well. The world is moving towards a more conservative point of view in which the terrifying feeling of terrorism is restricting tolerance level. In addition, the harsh economical cycles are pushing people to their nerves. One needs to give, contribute, integrate and support in order to protect the collective well being of the society and to advance the remaining tolerance and acceptance levels within the society.

There is a common cliché that says "variety is the spice of life". We have a spicy city (too spicy in some corners where the Curry did already overcome the smell of Poutine). We are living at the end of the boomers era. All the respect for those who have built this society and brought it to the current level that we enjoy.
We are different but have all the same common goal. Live, enjoy and let others live.

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