This morning I came across this article:
To me, it highlights one of the biggest tensions that comes from a person moving from one culture to another. How much of their original identity do they keep? How much of their new culture should they take on?
In this case, it is a tension between the cricketer’s religion and the mainstream culture of Australia. In Australia, religion and culture are two very distinct worlds (although of course the culture has been influenced by its traditional Christian history). In many other countries however, religion and culture are barely distinguishable.
From what I have observed, Mr Ahmed’s choice will be mostly accepted, as Australia can understand that it is a religious choice (for the most part…there are sadly always some exceptions, as noted in the article).
But I wonder whether they would be as accepting if this was viewed as a cultural choice – if he came from a country that did not condone alcohol, without religious reasons. I think it would be far less accepted. For instance, if other players start taking a similar stance because of their own personal views, I can foresee this becoming a contentious issue (not least because the sponsors won’t be too happy). People may start talking about how they must “become Aussie” or leave the country.
But few of these Aussies (for example the outspoken ones mentioned in this article), will reflect on what they would do if they moved to a country where the mainstream culture is Islamic based. I can guarantee they would be wanting to keep a lot of their so-called “Aussie” characteristics and identity. But if that includes drinking, as this article suggests, then they would quickly find themselves in hot water in that nation.
I’m not sure it’s a tension that can ever be easily resolved. But as the name of my blog suggests, I think a collaborative approach of learning about one another’s cultures is a good place to start.