Pastor Freed’s blog, Jack’s Winning Words, once again provided the inspiration for today’s post – “At the end of the day, I’d rather be excluded for who I include, than be included for who I exclude.” (Eston Williams)
Are you included in groups with labels like bigots, racists, homophobes, or misogamists? Perhaps you better identify with groups who identify with terms like caring, inclusive, justice or equality. It is ironic that many of the members of those first groups also claim to be in a group that they call the “moral majority”. They make some claim (indefensible as is may be) to a moral high ground for their exclusionary position. In fact, their position is neither moral nor a majority. It doesn’t take long, once one starts excluding whole classes or groups of people, that you find yourself in the minority.
Another sad truth about taking an exclusionary position in life is that it limits the experience of life and the knowledge and wisdom that can be gleaned from those experiences. Once you confine yourself to the small box that exclusions put you in, you become trapped in that box, just like a mime. Your world closes in around you the more that you exclude others and the experiences that they bring with them. The world can become a lonely, colorless and boring place once you have excluded all of those who, “aren’t like me.”
So, at the end of your day look back and ask yourself, “Did I exclude anyone or any group today?” Then ask why. Was it out of some unfounded fear that you apply to a whole class or group of people? Was it out of ignorance or misunderstanding? Did you just react to exclude based upon something that you heard or saw somewhere (maybe on a social media site) and just accepted as the truth without thinking about it or investigating it for yourself? How do you rationalize your exclusions? Is it just that- rationalization?
At the root of many decisions to exclude (or avoid) are unfounded and unchallenged fears. Mostly they are fears of the unknown – things or people that you have not experienced before. Perhaps before you start out today, you can pray for the strength and bravery to allow yourself to experience all of the people that you meet today, excluding no one. If you do that, you will soon find the world to be a much more interesting and colorful place, with opinions and points of view on things that you never knew existed. If you can appreciate them and internalize them a whole new realm of knowledge and wisdom will open up to you. You will find that some of the old “truths’ that governed and restricted your life fade away. At the end of that day, you will feel much better about including all those people.
Which group do you want to belong to?