London, 15 Mar: There was a conversation held on ‘Culture and Conscience’ between Cllr Muhammad Butt, Leader of Brent Council and Sister Maureen, Programme Director at Global Cooperation House, London
Muhammad Butt, born and brought up in Brent. (The borough in London in which GCH is situated). ‘Brent is in my DNA’. After working for British Telecom as an engineer and project manager he stood as a councillor to fulfill his ‘life purpose’. He was first a Brent Councillor for 12 years and then Leader of the Council for 6 years. ‘He is doing a great job as he keeps being voted back in!’, commented Pavan
Sister Maureen moved to London and has been based here in Brent with the Brahma Kumaris since 1986, after her upbringing in Liverpool,’ which is a friendly ‘community’ place’. Maureen ‘has a passion bringing the community together’ within the Brahma Kumaris and also in reaching our to local communities.
Muhammad Butt gave a quick resume of how Brent has come to be synonymous with multicultural London and how since the 1950’s many different communities with differing cultures and faith have moved in and been welcomed and integrated into this part of London.…
Maureen commentated that ‘This is an area where communities and faiths have and can flourish’. ‘People feel safe in this borough and don’t want to move out.’ What is Brent’s secret as one of the most multicultural places on earth?
Brent recognised that different communities can make a positive difference to the local population and always sought and continues to seek to help and support them. The council has also been very adept at adapting and always sought to have the right people in place in the council to communicate with different and new communities.
Also local schools have been a primary place of acceptance and respect and also a place where families get to know each other and their communities. Brent recognizes the importance of people of faith being able to practise their faith, as many come from places where they have been persecuted. 87% of people in Brent say they have a faith. There are over 350,000 people living in Brent at present.
Please see below some of the main points that came up in the conversation:
- Understanding another’s culture is all about engagement and seeking to understand where another person ‘comes from’ in terms of culture.
- It is only when we start saying ‘our’ culture or faith is ‘right’ that we create walls with people of differing culture and faith.
- To develop a culture of humanity is the key
- Its about celebrating our differences….wanting to learn, engage and interact.
- We have one thing in common which is our humanity and our conscience is such that we wish to work together for the benefit of everyone.
- Faith in essence is to bring us together not divide us.
- With faith there is a principle of goodness and ‘the golden rule’ that is acknowledged: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. The Charter for Compassion was founded on this.
- There is a great feeling of solidarity and going beyond our differences in London and this is a key to this city.
- As human beings collectively we want to be together.
- We need to see what thoughts are informing my conscience
- My conscience is the voice of society within me and culture is the conveyor of that voice…
- We have to be aware inside of what really is my conscience..
- We have to be aware of influences so that the conscience is open to what is true.
- A lack of inner security makes us latch onto an identity that can distance ourselves from our conscience.
- We all have a conscience and we choose whether to go with it or not.
- When we do something against our conscience, it plays on our mind and we develop stress.
- Collective conscience is the voice of humanity……
- The first violence we do is to suppress our inner goodness…especially when we get caught up in our roles.
- Clash of external identities can lead to war.
- There is always a way to find how to move forward through engaging and interacting…
- We find solutions through consultation exercise and listening.
- We need to have social interaction and be able to just listen. This can even save a life.
- Responsibility and humility are signs of a clear and strong conscience
- We all have responsibility to the self, neighbours, those people around us.
- Our decisions need to be based on caring for humanity and empathy
- We have a ‘corporate responsibility’ and duty across the borough… so that the safeguarding and wellbeing of each individual is looked after.
- Each one of us has the responsibility not to walk past someone in need.
- When we feel everyone is my family – my brother and sister, and they need something then it is not a hand out
- It is very important not to undermine our own dignity and our conscience tells us we have a duty to maintain anothers dignity.
- Conscience is about making sure we are standing side by side… bridging the gap between someone who has and a person in need.
- To show love and respect….can inspire. There is a story behind everyone, and a story that has brought them to that point. The narrative is usually about a lack of love in their lives.
- We have to reignite the goodness in people and help them to change by instilling a culture of goodness: bringing in understanding, humility and love into our societies and communities.. How many of us know our neighbours?
- So many are struggling with themselves. We can help people feel accepted and their value as a human being and the greatest gift we can give someone is to believe in them….
- There is a groundswell where young people want something different. A fundamental change is now needed and we can feel it is now coming….
- In order to effect this change it does come back to people taking responsibility….There needs to be a vision to realise this change…
- At Brent we have to keep things simple and fair. We need job growth and resilient communities.
- This culture award is about the contributions that every culture has made to Brent to make Brent their home. People have come from all over the place because they feel some kind of connection.
- We keep light due to all the liveliness peoples have brought to us…
- Sister Maureen closed with a meditation commentary