Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tea at a Mosque?

Alright... now I'm a little miffed. When a right wing group like the English Defense League gets invited to tea and biscuits at a York mosque I have to ask myself what's wrong. After all, I live with Bangladesh to the north east of me and Pakistan to the west with at least two or three mosques in the vicinity. Moreover I am nowhere near as far to the right as the EDL. No one has ever invited me to tea and biscuits at a mosque. I have had lunch at a synagogue... heck, I've even attended a bar mitzvah where I was told by my host to wear a yarmulka but if anyone tried to give me a prayer shawl, to tell them no. I've been in Hindu and Buddhist temples in my youth and any number of protestant churches. So why have I never been invited to tea at a mosque??

I think that one of the main problems facing our society today is transparency among the various groups that constitute our community. Let me give you an example from my own history. I grew up an Italian Catholic kid in New York City where I became acquainted with the Jewish culture around me. I am familiar with the major holidays and I could probably insult you in Yiddish if I wished. Living cheek to jowl with an amazing assortment of folks who are all a little different forces you to learn a little bit about your neighbors. This was not multiculturalism, merely survival. Anyone familiar with the history of New York knows that this was not always so... in fact there has been more than a little blood spilled over the years. The tolerance that grew out of this tumultuous history was a grudging familiarity with your neighbor, enough to know that he wasn't up to something and posed no threat. You might never become best buddies but at least you might nod a greeting as you passed on the street. 

Insularity or transparency... that is the real question here. It is entirely understandable that immigrant groups would naturally band together for support. However, when groups become so insular that their neighbors have no idea what's going on within them, suspicion and mistrust are the likely outcome. Tolerance has little to do with the stuff that passes for official multiculturalism these days. It has far more to do with knowing your neighbor well enough to believe that he doesn't pose much of a threat. Insularity or transparency....


U.K. mosque greets EDL protesters with tea and custard creams


1 comment:

Barona said...