Monday, February 04, 2008

Chinese New Year

One of the advantages of living in a community in which there is a mixture of nationalities is that it is a learning experience.

Some people are dismissive about nationality and culture and say that these are unimportant, thinking that by taking up this approach, they are levelling out any possible sources of division or conflict.

But this is where such people are very wrong. My nationality matters very much as far as I am concerned. If, when I relate with you, I pretend that I am not English and that whatever nationality you are, we’re all the same, then I am blinkered. It is denying an opportunity for mutual enrichment. You can learn from me and I can learn from you when we acknowledge our differences. If there were no differences, then there would be nothing to learn.

Chinese New year is celebrated this week, inconveniently for Catholics, beginning on Ash Wednesday. That is why my Community, which boasts of a Singaporean, has anticipated the New Year and has eaten this evening. Thus I have just had the chance of renewing my acquaintance with chopsticks. I am no expert, but this evening I managed better, I think, than ever before… but had I not had the occasion to mix with Chinese people, chopsticks would have been beyond my experience. Had I not been given the opportunity of celebrating Chinese New Year, I would probably never have learned of its significance in reconciliation, healing of wounds and uniting families.

Culture, language and family ARE important. Let us celebrate our differences and enjoy each other.

God bless,
Sr. Janet