Mixed-up Britain

Despite our many weaknesses such as our obsession with hereditary princelings, the weight-loss plans of minor celebrities, our corrupt and broken financial system and the shiny politicians who feed off its blood…. I really quite like my country.  Particularly its capital city, my London, our London; and my little bit of it, Brixton.

A married man can still dream  dreams that can never be even the beginnings of reality, and  admire the beauty that surrounds us. Human beauty, exposed the more in this extended heat (it is thankfully cooler today).  The heterosexual man that I am cares little for the practice of concealing so much beneath an excess of hijab.  Thankfully, in Brixton’s diversity, there are still plenty who are willing to flaunt what they have, with pride and with pleasure.   Black, white, and so many shades of brown and yellow between, a sepia spectrum of human flesh and pretty smiles to make me feel proud and, dare I say it, patriotic.

I am proud of the fact that Britain has one of the highest rates of interracial relationships in the world. Proud, particularly, of London for this reason. We lead a new way along the tricky path of multiculturalism.  We are making a new society work, slowly, painfully, but now London itself is proud of its mixed-up culture, one it celebrated so spectacularly a year ago at London 2012.

But I know it isn’t easy.  Everyone who marries across a divide needs courage to do so.  It is often seen as a betrayal of ones community, for good evolutionary reasons.  If your daughter marries a relation of yours, her children will  carry more of your genes than if she  marries a stranger.  But the evolutionary pressures work also in the other direction.  Ethnic purity, as a notion, was morally discredited by the Third Reich;  it has been much further discredited by the genetic diseases that accumulate in communities that practise it. Widening the gene pool makes it more likely  that  only the stronger parts  of your genes survive.

The struggle for family acceptance of “marrying-out” is a familiar story of our times.  A Sikh friend told how her father was appalled when a friend’s daughter married a Bengali man; she was secretly engaged to an Italian and eventually confided in her mother, who was equally shocked. That was fifteen years ago; both grandparents now dote on their  beautiful British grandchildren with Punjabi and Italian heritage.  Another friend was brokenhearted when the great love of her life could not find the courage to face his parents; but these cases are getting rarer.  While “honour” – the word is so, so wrong here – killings make the headlines, they are the exception.  Mostly, it’s a pit of conflicting loyalties.

First-generation migrants, the ones who have made the great leap to move here, often settle in communities of their own, finding comfort against an alien environment and alien values with the familiar, with people who speak the same language, practise the same religion, and share the same values.  As with genes, so with values:  Britain’s newer citizens bring with them values which  add to our national conscience as well as ones which do not deserve to thrive.  Cultural isolation should no more preserve primitive values than racial purity should preserve primitive genes; we are better for being culturally and genetically mixed. Second generation migrants, born and bred here, know that; they absorb our mixed-up values, fall in and out of love, and in again with fellow Londoners who may or may not be the same colour or faith, and have to face up to father.

There can only be one conclusion. There are no ifs or buts or maybes. If your son or daughter marries out, for love and not for pride, it is you who should be proud. Proud that with your new  daughter or son in law they will take the best of your genes, your culture and your values and inculcate them in their children.  Proud of his or her courage in standing up for Love  and not to prejudice.

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