Remember at the end of 2003, when it was reported that millions turned-up to wave the England flag to celebrate in the joy of the England rugby team winning the World cup? Did you wear your England shirt? Did you hold your flag up and jump for joy? Remember also the FIFA World football cup. Did you cheer for England, and then later for Brazil?!
Recently, whilst talking with some friends we attempted to decipher the term, ‘British Asian’ (please also read, ‘I’m not a tourist, I live here’ an article I wrote in The Sikh Times in 2002). We considered if the word Asian was simply being bolted on as an aid for categorisation, or if there was a more negative aspect to its use. We wondered if an atmosphere of living in a rich, sharing, cosmopolitan country had now begun to prevail. Someone said we should put behind us the thoughts of the Southall riots, SPG episodes, midnight vigils outside the South African Embassy and Liverpool riots… They argued that all members of the community should consider the possibilities in front of them rather than deliberate about the past. Unfortunately, life is not as simple as that. What also doesn’t help is when 14-15 year olds in school have a chance to ‘drop’ history, it’s often the best time for them to understand and learn the about heritage of world histories.

To help our generations we need to first ask: where are the representative community role models? Are neighbourhoods truly ‘close’ or do we spend years just knowing the first name of our next door so called friend? Do we live in places where 10 or 20 years could go by and the only conversation we will ever have is regarding the weather? Are we all motivated to ‘root out’ examples of ingrained negative thoughts and stereotyping of community behaviours – To correct people about their attitude to each other? It is also unfortunate that religious ‘tolerance’ and ‘respect’ is not common place. This is certainly evident when hearing of this week’s French proposals.

If we’re living in a world of justice then setting an example for human rights is also a good place to start and drive forward.
To summarise, we need to learn to understand the past and feel confident with a community that reciprocates respect, mutual respect with no need for labels or deep rooted demographic analysis. We need to simply share in the joy that binds us together, i.e.: a sense of community, collaborative assistance but most of all, common bonds – we are all people or the world. Some of us may have understood or even experienced their father’s and mother’s travelling thousands of miles to settle. Remember their dreams would have been in vain if we can’t remember the struggles they went through and the need for the community to accept everyone as equal.

So when you wave your flag and smile, let’s hope that the person smiling back at you feels a common sense of joy, not just for the team or the sport being celebrated but for the community you hope to share.

Categories: 2004

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