A Sunday of cultural contrasts – Sunday 14 October 2012

Diversity is an easy word to use and one that conveniently comes to mind in descriptions of our borough, although understanding what this might really mean is, another matter and a dutiful task for anyone who might imagine that wearing the chains of office will immediately permit the user to make the journey effortlessly from councillor to Mayor.

Appreciating and moving within the complexities of diversity is as much an earning curve as it is a learning curve, with perhaps the word understanding being far too simplistic.  In preference, we could try the German word verstehen as a far deeper take and one more fittingly applied when addressing presentations of self, closely observed by others and uncomfortably difficult to conceal.

This was never more obvious than on October 14th, a Sunday of cultural contrasts, one a harvest festival thanksgiving close to home in Lambeth and the other with our near neighbours in the abbey at Westminster.  These are two churches built for the same purpose with services of a similar structure but separated in their expressions of diversity.  Two congregations sharing the same devotion to the unseen but seeing life so differently though either a knowing or unknowing of diversity.  Two cultures that are joined in prayer and praising, but distanced by a lack of recognition for what is just another way of doing, saying and being seen, because diversity is acceptance where contact with others and their culture does not require that tiresome effort of having to be accommodated.    


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