We’ve all heard that old proverb – birds of a feather, flock together – but most people don’t realise it’s been in existence in the English language since the sixteenth century. Simply put, it means that people with similar characters and interests spend time with each other.
Now over five hundred years later, it’s a saying that still holds relevancy, especially within different cultures, nationalities, religious groups, and ethnicities.
Growing up an immigrant in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s, and being a part of a minority ethic group within the broader Turkish community, my clan stuck tightly together. We celebrated together. We commiserated together. We prayed together. We helped each other in hard times, and in good, we played together, we ate from each other’s tables, and… we married one other.
Even only twenty years ago, marrying outside the community was an uncommon occurrence. When it happened, which it rarely did, it was big news. Gossiped about. People were curious, keen to get a glimpse of the newcomer…the outsider.
Last weekend I was invited to a family friend’s wedding. It was held at a winery in the Yarra Valley and… absolutely gorgeous. Understated, elegant, relaxed, attended by a small but loving group of friends and family. She, a community friend, married a beautiful young man of French/Mauritian heritage. Clearly, birds of differing feathers, they were wonderfully in love and in synergy.
Being there, celebrating with a whole group of people from different cultures, places, life stages, it occurred to me that our small, tight-knit, insular clan…is not so tight-knit or insular anymore. In fact, it’s now become the norm to marry outside of the clan. The community friends I grew up with are married to a wonderful mix of other cultures including Australians, Tongans, Hungarians, Greeks, Italians, English, Scandinavians… and the list goes on.
I had a big smile on my face. Not only because I’d had a few glasses of wine, but because I love that our community is growing and changing while still holding true to the parts that remain important and relevant. The youth look for love, not only within the confines of our community, but in the broader world around, and the older generation have learned to accept, to appreciate, and to grow and change too.
At the end of the day, no matter what our feathers look like, or who we choose to flock with, we are all still birds after all.
Tip o’ the Fez to you.