By Jonathan Sacks, Continuum,
2007, RRP $29.95
Reviewed by Kerry Pierce, a member of Believing Women for a Culture of Peace and minister at West End Uniting Church, Brisbane.
JONATHAN SACKS begins his political sociological thesis identifying that: “Multiculturalism has run its course, and it is time to move on”.
He explores the shift in British society from a mono-culture, where newcomers were welcomed as guests and expected to assimilate into the traditions of Britain, to the current multicultural liberal democracy, which inadvertently encourages group associations which can deny newcomers the opportunity to develop any form of British identity.
As a second generation migrant himself, Mr Sacks’ concerns are for the sense of belonging that is lost to newcomers and the associated social disadvantage of missed opportunities.
Mr Sacks details the changes in the past 60 years and suggests that the political shift is detrimental to both the nation and the individual.
I found Mr Sacks’ detailed examination of social contracts and civil society, which he suggests is best grounded in covenantal commitments, most interesting.
Unfortunately it takes a long time for him to get to his basic thesis; that a new and inclusive British identity can be forged when people are prepared to accept their responsibility for working alongside each other to forge deep relationships.
This is where the sense of belonging that affords a healthy identity will be built and both unity and diversity will be given dignity.
I was encouraged by Mr Sacks’ vision.