2.3 Multicultural Communities last revised/edited 11/2010, 12/2017

2.3.0 Summary, introductory remarks
2.3.1 Development and benefits of multicultural communities
2.3.2 Cultures addressing the differences among humans, particularly male-female differences
2.3.3 Avoiding institutionalized ethics violations
2.3.4 Political implications

2.3.0 Summary, introductory remarks

Immigration, mainly from Third World countries to Europe and the USA led to many communities becoming multicultural. Migration is mostly motivated by high rates of violence including civil wars, population pressure and resource shortages, slow and mismanaged economic development and socio-political instability. Many Third World countries suffered greatly: local dictators continued colonial ways of exploiting their country’s poor, by colonial powers drawn boarders led to inter-clan fighting and intrigue, Western corporations and banks with neo-liberal objectives exploited countries with the International Monetary Fund usually worsening the suffering, gangs and foreign supported militias fought over valuable minerals and/or drug production and trade, etc. Rampant corruption, often involving foreign groups, has been ever-present. Attempts to follow Western or East-European models of governance usually failed for many reasons.
Many countries are multicultural or multiethnic with diverse subcultures. People may live more or less harmoniously in close proximity and may intermarry.
Immigration, particularly to Europe, has greatly increased following the “Arab Spring” and consequent civil wars. Foreign powers greatly contributed to and prololnged armed conflicts in third world countries without effectively mediating resolutions. Many Western groups do not understand and consider the context of the crises that involve much of Asia and Africa and have reacted with increased racism and right-extreme hate mongering that is often fueled by pseudo-religiosity.
Generally, immigration from the Third World is in many ways beneficial. Immigration usually helps the host countries. Most people that migrate to highly industrialized countries have more education than the poor who are left behind; many are highly educated and most are highly motivated to learn and work hard. It is mutually beneficial if cultures learn from each other. Sadly many immigrants live in isolated communities and slums, are discriminated against and in their culture traditional human rights violations may be continued.1
Economies often depend on migrants, for instance the USA relies on large numbers of foreign nurses, physicians, researchers, engineers, etc., and has no intention to increase its capacity to offer a larger part of its people a higher education. Though urgently needed, immigrant professionals are often exploited and discriminate against. Food production, particularly meat and poultry processing and picking vegetables largely depends on immigrants, many of whom cannot get proper visas. U.S. citizens may complain about a few migrants taking jobs that local workers may desire and immigrant children’s education being supported by U.S. taxpayers; they ignore that the U.S. paid nothing for the upbringing and education of the adult immigrants who come to work and who immediately start paying taxes. Particularly in Europe, the birth rates are very low and young immigrants appear needed to keep their economies functioning.
While highly educated immigrants are a loss for the country that educated them, there may be some redistribution when/if the immigrants send money back to their families. Occasionally they also support institutions in their home country or return to help with their later acquired skills.
Migration is in many ways positive but leaves many behind and sometimes decimates poor countries most educated segment of the population. And paying smugglers and other criminals is a serious ethical problem.
Today, many Third World cities include centers of a Westernized middle class and foreigners who moved there or stay for extended times. Multicultural-multiethnic communities are becoming frequent and they offer particular opportunities for cultures to learn from the other. With good governance, this closeness between groups of different cultures may make it easier to stop by local tradition and religion mandated ethics violations without destroying the functions of cultural traditions and rituals.
2.3.1 Development and benefits of multicultural communities
The development of multicultural communities appears generally desirable. People can learn from others’ attitudes and ways of expressing social instincts, ways of dealing with conflicts among friends and within families, etc. In the absence of multiple cultures within an area, people probably benefit greatly from learning about other cultures by reading, learning foreign languages and forming long-distance friendships.
Multicultural communities are mostly formed by migration because of socioeconomic pressures or to escape wars, crimes or political prosecution. In addition, people may travel and eventually resettle, and they often marry persons of other cultures. Modern history also led to many multicultural political units: some by forming federations, many by the institution of arbitrary boundaries after wars and/or liberation of occupied and colonized areas.
Major issues include the need of individuals to feel that they are part of a small group within their society, and that they have a sense of cultural identity. Cultural identity is derived from and closely related to a person’s extended family, clan or tribal connectedness, from a commonality of education or cultural learning, and/or from a sense of being part of a nation with its religion and traditions, or of a successful federation2. However, cultural traditions often interfere with progress, integration into the larger society, and the observation of broadly recognized human rights. Individuals and families of traditional subcultures often need social and educational services to learn about the technologies, institutions and conventional expectations and prohibitions of a civilization they moved into and/or of surrounding wealthier urban areas. They may also need to learn about global or natural ethics and/or human rights. Full integration into a different civilization is often problematic, and intermarriage between cultural groups may lead to one or both partners giving up much of their cultural heritage.
Immigrants benefit from adopting similar or higher standards of curtesy, punctuality, cleanliness, honesty, etc., which help them become fully accepted and respected in a different culture. Adapting to multicultural communities can promote positive emotions in immigrants and the established population, enriching people’s own awareness and experiences and encouraging them to reflect on their ethical values, thinking and behaviors.
Political units of all sizes must be tolerant regarding cultural expressions and religions, as long as they follow two principles:
– there must be no human rights’ or natural ethics’ violations, and
– there is no religious teaching that is held to be more accurate and important than today’s scientific understandings of nature.
While religions are valuable and many religious people do ethical work that is supported by their religious communities, religious beliefs should generally not serve to teach morals, an understanding of humans and human interactions and/or the basis of a world view. Cultural and religious traditions should be based on artistic expressions, teaching forms of meditation, story telling, passing on traditional legends, rituals, etc., however, any traditions that reinforce negative inclinations, such as unethical behaviors that are considered ‘honorable,’ must be modified to strengthen ethical values. It is a goal that people are not only tolerant but appreciate the practice of different cultural traditions within their community or area.

2.3.2 Cultures addressing the differences among humans, particularly male-female differences
Issues of equality, as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations and spelled out in the laws of many countries, are somewhat problematic. Different levels of talents, mental retardation, severe mental disorders, etc. justify different treatments and rights of individuals if treatment of all people is humane. It is also debatable whether boys and girls should be educated in essentially identical ways3. It is difficult to compare values of activities and achievements that are biologically primarily or exclusively in the realm of one gender.
While virtualy all cultures are male-dominated, cultures differ significantly in their approaches to gender differences and the treatment of children. The close proximity of cultural groups within cities and countries, and the frequent interactions between people of distant places may help groups recognize their cultures’ ethics violations and encourage learning from each other.
A serious problem to be evaluated is that cultures almost universally assign higher value to typical male activities and traditional male professions, and that they often exclude women from them. Marriages may be defined and culturally instituted in different ways, and there usually are blatant inequalities between tasks and responsibilities of fathers and mothers. In many cultures girls and women are expected or forced to marry and bear and raise children with hardly an opportunity to chose a different life; their frustrations, hard work and suffering are hardly appreciated. Ideally, males and females are acknowledged as different but both male and female characteristics must be appropriately valued. In most cultures, parents consider girls more vulnerable to crimes, needing more protections and limitations in their freedom. In many areas the dangers of abduction and rape are real since most civilizations fail to teach men ethical control of sexual urges and empathy; boys must learn to feel protective towards any girl or woman who may be in danger of being assaulted. The problem of men sometimes becoming sexual predators is largely due to cultures maintaining a notion that people can safely enjoy unethical fantasies without the danger that the fantasies may be, under extraordinary circumstances, acted out (overly tired, in strange-exotic environment, feeling above the law because of wealth and status, intoxicated, suicidal, etc.). Similar crimes against boys are much less frequent and more likely to occur in institutional settings; institutions have an obligation to institute safeguards for all vulnerable persons.
Compared with men, working women in reproductive age need more leave time and should never lose their job and job benefits because of pregnancies, childbirths, and extended maternal leave for the care of infants. Even without pregnancies, women suffer more from pains and disturbances of mood that may interfere with work than men. They may have severe menstrual pain with endometriosis, and many medical conditions are much more frequent in younger women than in working-age men. In most cultures, women suffer much more anxiety and depressive disorders than men. Discrepancies appear largely due to cultural groups assigning different tasks and offer different educational and cultural opportunities to persons based on gender.
2.3.3 Avoiding institutionalized ethics violations
In multicultural and multiethnic political units, there may be a choice of having some functions segregated, e. g. ethnic or religious minorities may have activities for boys and girls that teach some skills and ethical or moral values in segregated groups rather than trying to join boy scouts or girl scouts. However, if there is any form of segregated educational and other institutions, the institutions for all groups must be of comparable quality as mainstream or conventional institutions, follow ethical principles, and receive appropriate funding. In addition, individuals must have the right to leave a specific cultural-religious group and join a related, more or less liberal, or an unrelated group, and no society may exclude a member from participating in learning anything he/she is able and qualified to learn.
Cultural and religious practices, whether exercised by a majority or minority of a community, must be adapted to follow the above principles, and persons, other than members of the culture, must participate in monitoring them. For instance, well educated persons of a cultural background, in which a particular rite or tradition is not practiced, must judge whether the practice is considered humane and following principles of global or natural ethics and/or human rights.
Of primary importance is the treatment of minors, particularly girls, and women, an issue that should be addressed whenever cultures coexist or mix within a civilization. Most cultures stress that women need to be treated well and caringly, but girls are also taught that they have to be ‘nice’ and compliant and that they have essentially no rights. By cultures accepted or encouraged forms of punishments and lack of enforcement of ethical treatment often lead to severe abuses. Furthermore, many cultures still prescribe mutilations and/or extremely painful initiation procedures in children or adolescents. Boys have often been treated with harsh discipline and an emphasis on boys’ not expressing feelings. In Western cultures, women have also been expected to suffer discomfort and pain to improve their attractiveness and youthful appearance according to cultural expectations and local men’s liking, with corsets, high-heel shoes, hair removal, plastic surgeries, etc.
Girls and women are almost universally blamed for unwanted pregnancies, even if the guilty male is older, more educated, and pressured or raped her. Many cultures consider it morally justifiable to pressure adolescent girls to concede to arranged marriages; the girls are then moved away from their family of origin and support system, sometimes into an antagonistic, non-caring group of in-laws. Arranged marriages have been used to allow male relatives to move from a poor region into a highly industrialized country, or to remove a “spoiled” girl from the Western civilization, in which she grew up, back into a Third World traditional culture, where she has no rights.
In all cultures, people must learn to observe global, natural ethics, primary issues being broad compassionate empathy, no us-versus-them thinking and acknowledging that unethical fantasies are unethical. Unethical impulses must not lead to the enjoyment of unethical memories, thoughts and/or fantasies.
In traditional societies, where culturally mandated ethics violations are practiced, elders and community leaders must learn to adjust, change and/or renounce many traditions; they may need help in their home communities and avoid bringing oppressive unethical traditions into immigrant communities in Europe and America. Traditions, such as scarifications and female genital cutting (or mutilation FGC, FGM), usually have some psycho-social functions and broader changes may be needed. (FGM has seemingly the purpose to minimize girls’ sexual feelings, discourage girls wanting to have boy friends, and prevent premarital sex; actually excision of external genitalia does not decrease girls’ attraction to boys, neither does it appear to decrease the likelihood of girls being sexually assaulted). Men and women in Third World and immigrant communities need to give up the concept of mutilating the body of girls; and from a religious perspective it should be considered sacrilegious to mutilate the body that is considered God’s creation. Societies need to learn to respect and protect all girls and women from mistreatment and assaults; there must never be a notion that girls’ “immoral” behavior or clothing may “invite” rape. Men need to understand that even fantasizing about rape is profoundly unethical (and sinful), and that girls and women who feel good about their femininity and express positive feelings in their smile, clothing, dancing etc. do in no way invite or justify any sexual abuse or assault. With much interaction between cultural groups, there are unique opportunbities to evaluate ways of broadening ethical thinking.

2.3.4 Political implications
In most countries there are minorities of ethnic-cultural groups that may consist of pre-colonial and indigenous people, people brought in as slaves, immigrants, etc. Some countries are multi-ethnic because of inappropriate post-colonial borders or because of the formation of federations. Political-legal institutions have a duty to address special needs and issues of minorities, protect them from discrimination and exploitation, offer special services they may benefit from and help them stay or become reasonably integrated in community functions. Governments must observe human rights that protect minorities from abuse by other groups and abuse within their communities (including abuse that is part of their traditions).
Not legally accepted migrations have led to unimaginable suffering and a hard to assess number of deaths. Obviously, calling migrants “illegal” is unacceptable – no person is “illegal,” and the declaration of Human Rights specifies that temporarily leaving one’s country and to migrate, seeking asylum when fleeing persecution, are rights. It appears that the country to which the refugee goes would have the burden to prove that the person does not qualify as asylum seeker and/or has no intention to return to his own country.
It is tragic that no solutions for the underlying problems are sought. An effort comparable to the Marshall-Plan to help in some areas could be mutually beneficial and might lead to an expansion of the European Union into Africa and Asia rather than only Eastern Europe. In regions of acute conflict, the U.N. and Western and other influential countries should be quickly and effectively involved in mediation, seeking peaceful compromise solutions.
In places where there is obvious violence, dangerous for aid organizations to provide relief and/or where a recognized organization such as Amnesty International is examining political persecutions, local UN offices should be established to screen people who are allegedly persecuted or threatened; then move qualifying persons and their families to safety before another country has granted asylum. Such offices should also inform people who are ready to migrate what dangers they will encounter, particularly when major abuses have been reported along the routes migrant usually travel. People not passing such screening would then be much less likely to do the perilous journeys, paying criminals and becoming endangered by slave traders.
According to common sense and with a compassionate view, people who give up virtually everything, knowingly endure extreme hardship and risk further victimization should be considered qualified for asylum; unless they are very afraid, people would hardly risk their lives on their dangerous journey and move without any knowledge what their future will be like.
A hostile attitude towards immigrants is likely damaging to host countries and international relations. People in host countries generally do not like the process of migration and hastily settling refugees that come in huge numbers, but in the long run, migrations are usually valuable for migrants and host countries.

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1 Problems and psychosocial needs of refugees living in the USA are well described in Mary Pipher’s book The Middle of Everywhere, Harcourt, 2002. An opinion article in the Christian Science Monitor, 6/30/03, p.9, by Bruce Bawer “A problem with Muslim enclaves” describes problems involving Moroccan immigrants in Norway as an example of a widespread problem in Europe.
2 The term “nation” literally means a large group of people related by birth or ancestry or a country of people of common ancestry, language and culture.
3 Example: In the past, American boy scouts and cadets excluded any female or homo/bisexual males. This made sense in that a camaraderie was sought that completely excludes possible sexual attraction. A primary concern was “cultivating” typical male instincts. Some problems arise because there are no clear boundaries between heterosexual and bisexual, or exclusively male and typically male behavior. It is possible that a homosexual male intuitively understands heterosexual conflicts and completely separates sexual feelings from his task as boy scout leader. It might make sense to separate exclusive heterosexual male, mixed, and female groups, all trying to achieve equivalent objectives. Anecdotal reports from Islamic and Western schools indicate that gender-segregated education advantages compared to coeducation. Benefits of gender-segregated (single-sex) education for girls and boys is a topic of controversy, but observations noted by Leonard Sax and other appear to have some validity and it appears obvious that having adolescent boys and girls in the same class rooms interferes with optimal attention to studying.

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