I was afraid I would be misunderstood on this issue. What I am saying is
that as much as we learn from the outside world around us we still have the
familial traditions and culture within us we have taken on for generations,
family folklore, cultural heritage which no amount of being thrown into a
melting pot is going to erradicate, nor should it.
One of the problems is that the more people are forced to be assimilated into
a meltingpot culture, the more they hold on to their own. Hawaii is a prime
example. For years touted as the ideal meltingpot, it is now coming apart at
the seems. There is a great movement going on within the Polynesian sector
to secede. Their culture was squashed and oppressed by those who stole the
islands from them by locking Queen Liliokalani in her palace and in essence
turning her nation over to the U.S. for annexation. The missionaries forced
Christianity down their throats, and as they have done with the Native
Americans on the mainland, tried to strip them of every vestige of their own
culture and force the Haoli culture upon them.
Now they, like the Native Americans, are trying to retore what they were, and
like the black slaves imported to these shores against their will, trying to
find out who they are. Indeed, "Who Am I?" is one of the primal questions of
The attempt of the government of Quebec, Canada is having similar difficulty
in eradicating the English language in there province. The Anglo Canadians
want to keep their culture, having allowed the French Canadians to keep
The Irish and the Scots were similarly persecuted by the English, having
their native dress outlawed, their lands stripped from them, and their
languages more or less annihilated. The Welsh fared similarly. The Cornish
worse, as that language is officially dead. I believe the last native Manx
speaker died about a decade ago. The French did their best to wipe out the
Breton culture and language, but never quite succeeded.
The result is people who are fiercely proud of their heritage, some of whom
will dress in kilts at Highland Games in 105 degree weather to prove it, and
who have banded together into cultural groups to preserve it.
What makes us do that? Why does my Greco-American friend work so hard at
being Greek, my Irish-American friend work so hard at being more Irish than
Brian Boru, and my Manx-American friend continue to write poetry in a dead
language taught to him by his grandmother? Because it's who we are. It's
the answer to that primal question, which links us with our ancestors as much
as our chromosomes.
Ancestor worship, perhaps? Perhaps. It's that part of each of us which has
come down through the ages, which is part of which used to be called "racial
memory", although I'm sure the term is now considered to be politically
incorrect. It is the connexion between us and all that has gone before us.
Sure, a lot of us are mixed breeds. I know I am. My English side fights
with my Irish side and my Scottish side, and that tiny fraction contributed
by one Native Canadian great-great-great-grandmother who the family had tried
to pass off as French until the 1960's keeps creeping into my consciousness
as my blood tie with this continent.
But let's expand the subject. Let's take it to the ultimate. What is a
country but a political definition of where boundaries are set? It's
artificial. Look at the world from the perspective of an astronaut. Can you
pick out the boundaries between any of the countries in Europe, or tell
exactly where California ends and Baja California begins? It's not the
physical countries which are important, but the people who live in them.
They bring their cultures with them wherever they travel, wherever they
I never said, nor did I intend to imply that race had anything to do with it,
nor do I consider Celtic, Norman, Saxon, Norse or any of the other peoples in
question races. I am talking merely about culture, and the fact that it
endures past generational differences, past migration, and past the political
attempts of those in power to supress it.
The U. S., by considering itself quite vocally "A Nation of Immigrants" has
reinforced the fact that we are a patchwork of cultures, which works very
well to cover the center of this continent from sea to shining sea. We
don't, however, have a homogenous culture of our own; we don't even have the
same general culture from state to state. I doubt New York and Louisiana
would seem like the same cultures to you if you visited them, Alaska and
Hawaii are vastly different, and Texas is almost a nation unto itself. Ask a
Texan. (And a friend just informed me that Texas is the only state which by
the terms of its admission to the U.S. may secede.)
How fortunate for you that Australia has no such distinctions as we have
here, that you are all uniquely Austrailian. You are also living in the only
country which is a continent unto itself, and isolated from external
influences by a rather large ocean. If Darwin's theories were correct this
should allow you to evolve in a particularly unique manner.