Celebrating our diversity.
We are truly a mosaic worth celebrating. This year, we celebrate an important milestone in Canada’s history, marking 150 years as a nation. Strong and free. Humble and proud. We are keenly aware that our cities, towns and rural communities were both carved from the wilderness and overtaken from communities native to this land. All to create a space for a vision we know as Canada. What has happened in our past is responsible for creating the country we are today. We carry this past with us. As we welcome new Canadians, they bring their past to enrich the pattern. We all have our dreams and visions and we all face challenges. My parents came to Canada from the Netherlands in 1959, following the path of many Dutch couples after WWII. They brought with them a very small amount of cash, a suitcase and their knowledge and experiences. They found a space where they could work to bring their dreams to life. As the farm and family grew, experiences were shared, not only within the local community but with the Canadian farming community and with family in Holland. They were provided space and opportunity and they worked hard to enrich their new country.
Acknowledging our reactions.
I observe that it is easy to accept our differences when others were not threatened. I was raised with the values of my Dutch parents and shared experiences with friends of many backgrounds, including Indigenous, Acadian and Irish descent. As children, we learned to accept our differences and find areas of common interest. We need to be aware that when we are threatened, we react. When we do not feel safe, our thinking is not as clear. We are more close-minded and narrow-focused. We push out what is not familiar.
Canada has been recognized for our role in peacekeeping, in part due to visionary leadership through our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The language in the Charter recognizes equality, aboriginal rights and multiculturalism. The country was formed by brave and daring individuals, many who started with nothing but a dream for a brighter future. Along the way, we were hurt and treated unfairly. We suffered loss: of loved ones; of jobs and of homes. Things did not work out the way we planned. We carry that energy with us. We react negatively to those we hold responsible for causing this pain and we become stuck in habitual reactive patterns.
We can easily lose sight of our vision and purpose because we are working so hard to cope with what life sends our way. As we become surrounded by diverse cultures, the feelings of stress can easily escalate as we are exposed to different beliefs and values. Things become overwhelming because our surroundings are no longer familiar and comfortable. We can cognitively state that we will embrace diversity and celebrate multiculturalism but our gut reactions are not as tolerant.
Neutralizing our reactions.
If we recognize that we react to unfamiliarity, how do we master multiculturalism? I share the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as we mark our 150th Anniversary because when we do feel the inevitable emotions of apathy, fear and anger when faced with the unfamiliar, it is important to remember the opening line. ‘Whereas Canada is founded on principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.’ We cannot lose sight of the age-old wisdom of coming together as community, of finding power in words through prayer (regardless of religious and spiritual background) and being guided by a charter which declares rights and freedoms to all people. It guides us through our fears and anxieties and allows us to focus on creative energies to build a better world. We need to embrace from within ourselves first so that we can lead from a higher place.
Very interesting work is being explored by Dr. Willem Lammers and a group of international professionals in the area of guided change for personal and spiritual development. Logosynthesis® meets the individual, not only where they are based on their individual experiences, but also within the confines of their culture and society. The work identifies both a philosophy and a tested technique to help neutralize our reactions to things that contradict our beliefs. The work provides a framework to allow us to move beyond the narrow, protective forces that have prevented the world from feeling overwhelming to us and it provides a unique technique to free our energy for a more expansive and creative approach to life. Logosynthesis® is a unique platform to view the world a little differently. Discovered by a Swiss-Dutch psychologist, he has been working closely with a Halifax-based group for the past ten years to test the theory and the technique. The results are eloquent and profound.
Building stronger connections.
As we look to continue to master multiculturalism, we need to integrate our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms into our experiences to establish our Canadian values. We need to recognize that both our individual experiences and our cultural past have created our set of beliefs. These experiences form bonds in our patterns of thinking the way things should be, either strengthening or polarizing relationships. By neutralizing our reactions and creating positive environments for new experiences, we can establish our shared values and build stronger community. Not just to survive but to thrive! In order to truly master multiculturalism, we all must become aware of our habitual reactions when others express different views and beliefs from our own, so that we can better meet each other where we are to identify creative solutions, not only for a better Canada but for a better world!