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Stop talking about inclusion!

Everybody is talking about inclusion.

Whether it is individuals, companies or government bodies.

In most companies’ websites and job ads, you will find a sentence declaring they are an equal opportunity employer and are committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace.

It seems that almost everyone claims to be inclusive. (or at least no one dares to say they are not)

As you are probably well aware, inclusion aims to embrace all people irrespective of race, gender, disability, medical or other need. It is about giving equal access and opportunities and eliminating discrimination and intolerance.

Intolerance is the unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one's own.

In the west, we love to say that we are inclusive. We love to see ourselves as tolerant and progressive. But are we really?

Are you inclusive? Dare to put yourself to the test?

It is easy to accept views that are similar to yours. But can you accept a belief that is contradictory to what you think?

Can you accept a view opposite to what you think in a matter that is very close to your heart? In a topic that gets your emotions racing?

Let’s view a hot topic that is on the news these days. Abortion.

Where do you stand on this topic?

Are you pro abortions?

Are you against it?

How do you feel towards people that hold an opposing opinion to yours?

Can you accept this opposing belief?

I am a woman. I believe in the right of every woman to have complete autonomy over her body. And this includes the decision of whether to abort.

However, I completely understand and accept that other people see it as murder that shouldn’t be allowed. It doesn’t mean I think abortions should be illegal, but it means I accept the right of people to have this kind of view. And they have a right to express their opinion, as much as I have a right to express mine.

The shocking state of our society

Unfortunately, based on what happens in our society these days, we seem far from being inclusive. Instead of being inclusive, we are getting more polarised and losing tolerance for any opinion that is different to ours.

It’s difficult for me to see how societies around the globe are being torn apart.

More than that, it is heartbreaking to see how families are torn apart due to being non-inclusive.

It seems we have reached a dangerous place of not seeing things from different perspectives. A place where we can’t even understand and accept that other people have the right to have different views and opinions.

So how do we change that?

You can make a huge difference

How can we promote a society where the word inclusion has real meaning?

We start with curiosity, an open mind, empathy and the desire to understand people that are different to us. Using this mindset, we can explore and understand other people’s cultures, struggles, ways of living, wishes and hopes.

We can do so by having open conversations, spending time in their world, reading about it, and watching relevant documentaries or other videos.

We immerse ourselves in their world and imagine how it feels to be them.

If you want to develop your inclusion mindset, here are a few activities you can do: (you can also do it with children to help them become inclusive)

  1. Random acts of kindness- as you go about your day, find opportunities to act with kindness towards someone without expecting anything in return. When it comes to children – when you notice their act of kindness, praise them for that. You can also encourage such behaviour by saying – let’s see what act of kindness we can do today. And then, at the end of the day, reflect on how each one helped others.

  2. See a situation from different perspectives - when there is an argument or disagreement, whether it is between a few children or adults, ask the people involved to stop and consider the situation from other people’s perspectives. What do they need? What are their struggles? How do they feel?

  3. Learn about different cultures – explore different cultures, and you can do it with children. Find out what is different about their behaviour and actions and what drives these differences. By opening our minds to other cultures, we learn to respect and accept them.

  4. Learn about discrimination – read books or see movies of people who share how they have been discriminated against, how they felt, what it meant for them and how it impacted them.

  5. Look for the common things – finding the differences between us and others is easy. Get into the habit of seeing the common things. Especially with strangers or people who are very different to you. You can ask children to do this exercise, to search for the common things between them and others. Once you look for it, you will find plenty of similarities.

Once you open your mind and develop your curiosity and empathy, you will discover a richer and more joyful world.

You can access FREE educational resources here.

Only once we are all genuinely inclusive,

we would be able to live in harmony with each other.

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