┬ňŰŔŕţßŔ˛ÓÝŔ - ˛ÓńŔ÷ŔŔ Ŕ ˝ţÔňýňÝÝţ˝˛Ř. ╦Ŕ¸Ýţň ´ňń˝˛ÓÔŰňÝŔň. (UK - Tradition and modernity. A personal view)
UK- Tradition and modernity. A personal view ôA culture is the sum of all the things by which humanity can choose to differö I have chosen to paraphrase Brian Enoĺs (British musician) words about culture to start my essay with because they are related to the issue of multiculturalism that I wish to approach in my paper. Starting from my belief that a country is what her people are, I think that the complex and diverse nature of todayĺs British society can be better understood if we take a close look at the ones who are actually forming this society- the British people Since the battle of Hastingsů. Say the word ôBritishö and the thoughts of most people would be directed to the language of Shakespeare, to the famous British accent, to the royal succession, to Big Ben, to the 5 oĺclock tea, to the black humor, to the bowler hat and so on. About fifty years agoůSay the words ôBritish peopleö and the following might cross their minds: conservative, traditional, polite, stiff, moderate. NowadaysůSay the words ô British identityö and you might find it described only by ôfluctuatingö. ôStrangeö, you might add, arguing that a portrait of ôBritishö people or on the meaning of ôbeing Britishö can be drawn in precise lines. In fact, just above, people proved to have long-established guide marks when it comes to sketching them. A simple, new and controverse word such as ôfluctuatingö seems rather unsuitable to stand near the traditional and well-known ôBritish identityö. Still, the significance of ôfluctuating British identityö might pop anxiously in your mind, arising the curiosity to search for even a seed of truth in it. And, if thatĺs the case, I believe the starting point should be the very basic element of this identity: the character and personality of the British people. The key question to be reviewed is whether a single and unvaried British temper entered the gates of this millenium. A return to the historic events might provide part of the answer to this. After the Second World War, Britain faced an influx of European refugees. As a result of it, sizeable groups of Americans, Australians, Chinese and even Indian or Pakistani settled down and concentrated in communities in particular British areas. ôUnsettled Multiculturalismö written by B. Hesse gives a detailed description of the process, concluding that throughout the following decades, the new foreign-born element of the population induced by the immigration waves reflected its own image in the British identity. The cultural prints left are in fact the assumptions and aspirations, the values and believes of each community, that have shaped and outlined the countryĺs identity. Nowadays precisely this diversity of backgrounds and experience define Britain as a multicultural country. The traditional ôBeing Britishö has certainly taken centuries to forge but I strongly support that only by submitting to a modern and constant process of renewal with elements from different cultures can a nation survive, open new and expanding horizons for its society and build a common cultural framework for its people. Most countries embrace this flexible attitude of taking in a new human input but to me what is uniquely ôBritishö is the ability to preserve the core traditional values of the culture and add to them the ôspiceĺ ingredients of modernity. These donĺt manage to alter British tradition, seconds J. Rutherford in his book ôYoung Britainö, but improve its ôtasteö, its glorious achievements so that a better and more complex heritage can be passed to the next generations. From my point of view, reconciling tradition with modernity in Britain is like putting in a glass the oil (British culture) and water (foreign cultures) together. Thereĺs no mixture in this, in fact both remain distinctive entities and conserve their properties. But most important, the content of that glass will grow, as you continue to pour in it the vitality of water. ôSaltingö and ô pepperingö the British culture with a multitude of values from foreign cultures would certainly complete the fruits of tradition and ôbakeö a more vibrant, modern and dynamic British identity. And precisely the main ôingredientö used to ôbakeö it is the peopleĺs personality. Psychology recognizes that the individualĺs identity is closely determined by the framework of various social encounters and experiences. As C. Squire clearly stated in ôCulture in psychologyö, only the collectivityĺs accounts provide the foundation for individuals to make sense of their personal experience and therefore for constructing their identity. The rule is in fact a simple one and I could formulate it like this: people FORM a society but the society, too, FORMS people. If at the macro- cultural level described above the frame traditions of the immigrant people are just an addition to the host countryĺs cultural heritage, without changing it in any way, at the micro- social level the common life of the native British involves an interaction with people from different backgrounds and a mixing with their habits, views, way of dressing, music, sport and so on. In such a fluctuating context, itĺs almost impossible for the native British individuality to remain the same, emphasize R. Baulock, A. Heller and A. Zollberg in the study ôThe Challenge of Diversity Integration and Pluralism in Societies of Immigrationö. Yes, it ôsheltersö its primary and traditional ômoderationö, ôpolitenessö, ôstiffnessö, but at the same time combines them with modern and distinguished Indian, American, Chinese or Asian ôflavorsö. Certain old inside-British stereotypes have been eroded by the new fluid identities and every field of modern British life stands as a living proof to testify this. However, thereĺs no recipe to indicate us what exactly will the notion of ôBritishnessö comprise if so many cultures become integrate parts of a long and famed British structure. Indeed the result may be unknown, but the ôcookingö stages are obvious for anyone who walks on the streets of Britain nowadays. Cut into slices and attentively viewed, the traditional British life is increasingly spread with stereotypical immigrants Ĺ traits and practices ôsuch as vegetarianism, meditation or yogaö, explain Mike Storry and Peter Childs in ôBritish Cultural Identitiesö. The same authors agree that the list could endless go on, from the new sports adopted to various forms of entertainment, fashion styles and even to food or drink. If these are just a few of the foreign ôwhip creamsö to adorn the British life, than a further distinctive ôrelishö of it is given by festivals and significant dates. These are in my perspective the most clear example of culture link between the uprooted people and the native ones. They settle perhaps the most democratic arena where expression and change can take place and where tradition embraces modernity in one and unique combination wrapped in a British manner. The Chinese New Year or Halloween are just a few celebrations that show traces of foreign influence, but that acquire British dimensions because the land, the fireworks, and most important the people that take part at it are British. Sharing a common joy, being together for the same holiday borrowed or not, unit people and set up the groundwork for a transfer of cultural identity pieces. Some of them remain pure British, others emerge as a mixture of cultures. If the first category embodies British traditions, the second deals with modern British life. A newborn child in Britain nowadays will be marked by both of them and will mould its personality from traditional British ôdoughö but with small modern ôdropsö of American flexibility, Chinese perseverance, Asian patience, European innovation, Australian cheerfulness. Perhaps in this inner mixture will the notion of ôbeing Britishö truly see its future.