Challenging personal belief systems

“If it’s such an evil country then why did you come here?”

“They can never be your friends…”

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The above was an exchange I heard whilst hiding out in a corner of the mammoth offices of my new job eating the soggy sandwiches I had packed for my lunch that day.

Two colleagues were discussing religion and life in the UK and London. One had recently moved to London from Pakistan and was complaining to his work colleague (also Pakistani but British) about the fundamental societal differences between London and Pakistan.

Far from getting annoyed, I thought it better to hear these men out. What saddened me was the disinterest in integration into the new culture because of endless unrealistic comparisons to the culture left behind.

“They like to go out drinking…and look at how they behave. What can I ever have in common with these people?”

I am all for having a strong cultural identity. We all have an identity, background and moral and religious values/ belief systems (or lack thereof) and to deny this is to deny a part of ourselves exists. However, I cannot understand the mentality of emigrating to a new country and being so loathe to integrate myself into that culture that I become some sort of morality police superiority complex.

This attitude saddened me somewhat. The large part of travelling is to experience a new culture, to immerse myself in it and to learn new things about myself in the process. I know that there are obvious differences which might be intrinsically different to a set of beliefs I hold dear to myself, but why not embrace difference rather than berate it?

Another annoyance is the obvious choice to abuse the country of choice for financial gain but to berate its people. I know some people live like it is a dog-eat-dog world but I am in no direct competition with the world and I think it a little hypocritical to operate in this manner.

I for one am happy to be British, St. Lucian, Guyanese, female, human and can accept the fact that not everyone will like or understand me because then what kind of cliched farce of an existence would that be?

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