Giving Our New Neighbours a Chance
With globalization, it is now possible for people to immigrate to other countries far away from their native country. When people immigrate, they bring their cultures, traditions, and languages with them. Due to this, different cultures are mingling, and more and more societies are becoming multicultural. Canada is a great example of multiculturalism; in fact, it is one of the most multicultural countries in the world today (“Most Multicultural Countries In the World”). With the idea of multiculturalism comes a weighty question. How should multicultural societies treat newcomers? Some argue that the same rules should be applied to everyone, with the same severity, while others believe that newcomers should be given time to adjust to their surroundings. The position of this essay is that newcomers should be treated with patience, leniency, and tolerance, until they settle into their new city.
The main arguments of the opposing side include: if newcomers are not punished for their wrongdoings, they will not adjust to their new surroundings; many newcomers have prepared themselves to fit in immediately and do not need special treatment; and the word tolerance itself is demeaning—nobody likes to be tolerated.
The first argument of the opposition claims that if leniency is shown to newcomers, it will promote the misunderstanding that they are immune to punishment and that they do not need to adapt to their new society. This will cause unnecessary tension between citizens and newcomers, and will not allow society to become harmonious. This argument is reflected in the proverb, “When the mouse makes fun of the cat, there is a hole nearby.” This proverb emphasizes the importance of the presence and vigilance of authority.
However, we must keep in mind that when society shows tolerance, patience, and leniency, it teaches all of its people these humane and noble virtues. If gradually more and more people begin to act patiently toward newcomers, in time, others will learn this quality, and gradually it will become a common virtue throughout the community. In addition, once patience becomes prevalent in society, we will all learn to live, work, and study peacefully with those who are different from us. What is more, when the host country opens its doors, there is always a reason. Some examples are when the country needs wealthy people to bring their businesses to that country, companies to boost its economy, and people to expand the workforce and population. When they first arrive, newcomers are guests and must be treated as guests until they get settled in.
Next, the opposition argues that many newcomers are people who are fully capable of adapting well; they do not need or want special treatment. They have prepared and planned and are ready to fit in. In fact, such responsible immigrants will find it insulting if they are not treated as equals.
It would be wise to take into account that some people come from places where their home government frowns upon multiculturalism. So, it cannot be expected for such people to quickly change when they arrive. For example, the CIA Factbook lists the ethnic groups of South Korea as “homogenous” (“Korea, South”). Thus, an immigrant from South Korea cannot be expected to simply adjust to their new, multicultural surroundings. Secondly, there is the factor of stress. When someone immigrates to another country, they are under all sorts of pressures. They have left behind their family and friends; they must at first communicate with complete strangers; they have to find housing and a job; they need to make new friends to overcome loneliness and depression. Thirdly, some immigrants could be escaping from unfair conditions, such as discrimination or war. The trauma that they have gone through will not allow them to immediately adapt to a new environment. Furthermore, what the argument of the opposing side really implies is that newcomers who have trouble adapting, for whatever reason, should simply not come at all.
Finally, the opposition contends that tolerance is an insult. It is similar to “putting up with” newcomers, “stomaching” them, and “toughing it out” with them. All of these phrases are offensive. They argue that instead of tolerance, we should respect newcomers by treating them as equals and applying the same rules to them.
Tolerance doesn’t necessarily mean putting up with the other person, because they are perceived as bad. Rather, it is to work on one’s own oversensitivity toward others. The issue of tolerance should be viewed not from the perspective of the newcomers but from the perspective of the current residents and citizens. It is not about tolerating foreigners but of strengthening one’s own tolerance. People who stubbornly resist tolerance reveal that they cannot coexist with anyone who is remotely different from them. The practice of tolerance is not to demean the other but to refine one’s own social skills.
In conclusion, someone who moves to a different country to start a new life needs time to become accustomed to the new culture, the new language, and the new laws. It would benefit everyone if the people of the host country are encouraged to show patience, leniency, and tolerance to newcomers. The practice of patience does not only profit newcomers; all of society will profit from this virtue once it becomes a norm. Many immigrants arrive in a multicultural society without knowing how multiculturalism functions. Such newcomers need more time to understand this type of lifestyle. Finally, tolerance towards newcomers is the most effective way to enhance one’s own strength of character.
“Korea, South - The World Factbook.” www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/korea-south.
“Most Multicultural Countries in the World.” www.thetoptens.com/nations/multicultural-countries.