Thursday, 21 March 2013

3 things the archbishop’s enthronement ceremony teaches us about integration

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Today, Justin Welby will be formally enthroned as the 105th archbishop of Canterbury. The event will include longstanding traditions, such as knocking on the west door of the cathedral three times at the start of the ceremony, and other elements which wouldn’t have been incorporated hundreds of years ago, such as African dancers, Punjabi music and the archbishop being enthroned by a female cleric.

The archbishop’s enthronement ceremony teaches 3 lessons about integration:

 1)     Integration need not erode history and traditional values

Today’s ceremony will show that effective integration often involves upholding some traditions whilst adopting a progressive attitude to change.

Many people resist cultural integration as they believe it requires a denial of their history, identity and values. Those who reject multiculturalism often wrongly assume it involves welcoming other cultures and no longer maintaining or having any pride in their own.  True integration values the best aspects of a country’s history and seeks to embrace social change.

2)     Integration takes time

The road to women playing more prominent roles within the Anglican Church has been long and arduous. Although it has been a slow process, people have not given up. Integration between people of different social backgrounds, religions and ages will take time. Progress may be slow but the effort will be worthwhile.

3)     Integration is not just about race

Gender integration will be a focal point of today’s enthronement ceremony. People often forget that integration is much broader than race alone. Integration includes different genders becoming part of working environments often deemed to be the domain of the opposite gender. People of different ages need to mix to negate misunderstandings that lead to fear and mistrust. People of different social backgrounds need to get to know each other to find out they have more in common than they think.

Integration in the UK is a broad issue. It will take time to tackle. But like the archbishop’s enthronement ceremony, let’s at least start taking steps in the right direction. 

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