What unites us

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Western Opinion -

EACH year on Aus­tralia Day, Aus­tralians come to­gether to cel­e­brate liv­ing and be­ing part of this na­tion, a mul­ti­cul­tural na­tion, a na­tion ex­pand­ing and thriv­ing on ac­cept­ing peo­ple of all dif­fer­ent races, cul­tures and back­grounds.

How­ever, this year, I am ask­ing you to look at mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism from a dif­fer­ent an­gle.

While mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism de­scribes the val­ues and be­liefs we hold close, this term can be di­vi­sive in na­ture.

Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism recog­nises the dif­fer­ences in back­ground, skin colour and life­style and asks us to ac­cept them.

In­stead of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, a term which fo­cuses on the dif­fer­ences of our coun­try and our peo­ple, I im­plore you to fo­cus more on a com­mon hu­man­ity. We all have this, yet no-one cel­e­brates what we have in com­mon; we in­stead fo­cus on our dif­fer­ences.

The key to ac­cep­tance and har­mony is both – find­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties and ac­cept­ing dif­fer­ences. Nei­ther are more im­por­tant, and hav­ing one with­out the other cre­ates an im­bal­ance which grows into dis­con­nec­tion with com­mu­nity, feel­ings of be­ing un­wel­come and iso­la­tion.

Our coun­try is di­verse and we should cel­e­brate that.

But we should cel­e­brate not just the di­ver­sity of our friends, fam­ily and neigh­bours; we should cel­e­brate our com­mon hu­man­ity.

I have worked with young peo­ple my en­tire life and have seen a va­ri­ety of kids from all dif­fer­ent cul­tures and back­grounds grow and de­velop into kind, gen­er­ous and thought­ful peo­ple.

Their back­grounds are ir­rel­e­vant to their na­ture – my kids are good peo­ple be­cause that is who they are, and that is what de­fines them.

Aus­tralia Day is a time to fo­cus on our com­mon hu­man­ity, but like many of my other mes­sages, we need to con­tinue to adopt this ap­proach in our ev­ery­day lives. Aus­tralia will con­tinue to de­velop, our peo­ple be­com­ing more di­verse and our cul­tures in­ter­twin­ing. It is up to you to de­velop with it. Fa­ther Chris Ri­ley, Founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive, Youth Off The Streets.

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