Communities are shaped by one another in a multicultural society

We are a young nation of just over 50 years. Our virtues and family values have shaped the nation and bonded Singaporeans. We take joy and pride in our multiculturalism.

Culture matters deeply to people. Our self-esteem depends on the recognition and respect of others.

A multicultural society is about having several cultures or cultural communities with their own distinct systems of meaning and significance and views on men and the world.

It is these customs, ceremonies and rituals of a culture that embody and give meaning to morality.

Singaporeans are not homogeneous. Yet, most of us fondly cherish family values, social harmony, respect for authority, an orderly and peaceful society, filial piety and a united and extended family.

Cultural communities have two dimensions: cultural and communal. In some communities, members have nothing in common save their culture or religion.

The modern West has drawn heavily from the intellectual and technological achievements of Greek, Roman, Indian and Chinese civilisations, among others, and is deeply shaped by its persistent tendency to view itself with an established superiority.

In short, cultures are not achievements of the respective communities alone, but also of others, from whom cultures gain their context and points of reference, and have their beliefs and practices shaped.

In this sense, all cultures are multiculturally constituted.

We must certainly be open to other cultures and embrace others. We need to continue to hold healthy and fruitful conversations and promote community togetherness.

This is what makes us all Singaporean and what will integrate the nation.

Baby Mathen Mathews