Whom do you exclude?

December 16, 2019

A Welch Church sign provided Jack’s quote of the day in his Jack’s Winning Words blog today – “At the end of the day, I’d rather be excluded for who I include, than be included for who I exclude.”

It is a sad commentary on our times that there are those who exclude anyone who includes members of the LBGQTI community in their circle of friends. Some churches and entire denominations have put out the welcome mat to members of that community by declaring themselves Welcoming churches – the Southeastern Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is one such welcoming synod. Other churches or entire denominations continue to exclude, rather than include.

Do you have a list of “those people” whom you explicitly exclude from your circle of friends? Have you ever rally stopped to ask yourself why? When you were a child, you may have excluded a few other children for reasons that you couldn’t really explain. Maybe someone said that they have “cooties” and you just accepted that without even knowing what “cooties” were. As adults we sometimes exclude people based on nothing more substantial that the adult equivalent of “cooties” – some vague, unexplained, and unsupported rationale that we picked up somewhere. It could be something as trivial as how they dress or look. Maybe it’s how they act or talk. Whatever the reason is they are put into the “THEM” group of people that we avoid or, at least, don’t accept within our circle of friends.  

Of some, an unspoken fear of those who do not accept and welcome people who are different from them is that, somehow, by welcoming the, you may become “infected” by whatever it is that makes them different. For a while, in the 90’s, that “infection” from the LBG community took on the very real concern about the AIDS epidemic  that swept through that community. That fear has subsided as treatments become more effective in controlling the disease; however, for many, there is still an unfounded fear of those in the LBGQT community somehow “infecting” our children and causing them to choose that lifestyle.

Others may choose to exclude based upon race or ethnicity. People and groups to exclude the unwanted have used even social standing or wealth. Most of the time the criteria used to exclude has no bearing whatsoever on what type to person is being excluded, it’s just that they are one of “THEM”.

The sad truth is that we are shortchanging ourselves more than we are hurting THEM. We are limiting ourselves to the narrow point of view on things that is defined by those whom we have decided to include. We allow our narrow, excluding view of the world to define all sorts of things that could enrich our lives, if only we knew about them. Instead of a life full of rich sights, sounds, tastes and experiences, we confine ourselves to the grey, muted and bland world defined by our prejudices. We think we are being safe, but in reality we are just being dull and boorish.

So, start your week out by examining your list of people that you exclude – you avoid or you choose not to associate with – and ask yourself why? Other than some imaginary case of “cooties”, what reason do you have for excluding someone that you’ve not even met? What are you afraid of?  Is there the possibility that this person might prove to be fascinating or provide you with new information or insights?  Is there a different point of view on things that this person might introduce into your thinking? Have you ever considered things from that perspective? Is your inability to deal with the differences that you encounter protecting or limiting you?

Wouldn’t you really rather be defined by who you include than who you exclude? Do you really want to go through life using only the 3-4 colors that you now allow yourself to see; when God has put the entire box of Crayons in front of you and invites you to see and experience the entire spectrum of life that He has created?  Life can be so much more beautiful when you are inclusive, rather than exclusive.

Whom do you exclude? Why?


What good can come out of all this?

January 22, 2017

As I was thinking about something to say about the recent inauguration of our new President, I came across this quote that I saved from an earlier post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.   “Everybody has difficult years, but a lot of times the difficult years end up being the greatest years.”  (Brittany Murphy)

One can take refuge in the hope that the difficult four years ahead will be looked back upon as a time when the best that is in America was energized into resistance against the anger, hate and bitterness that led to this state of affairs. Perhaps it will come to be reright-and-wronggarded as America’s finest hour when the goodness that is in people found a common cause in the fight for what is right and just and compassionate in the battle against the insensitivity and the self-serving, closed-mindedness of the current political regime in our nation’s capital. Have no doubt about it, this is not a one-man problem, but a systemic assault being waged on the very values that the country was founded upon by a group of frightened politicians who are fighting the inevitable tide of change and diversity that the country is undergoing.

So, what good can come out of these four years of potential darkness? Perhaps the best thing that can happen is the awakening, revitalization and commitment of opposition to that darkness. Such an awakening was demonstrated around the country the day after the inauguration.  The awakening may occur within the existing two party structure of our political environment or perhaps result in the birth of a third party that doesn’t carry with it the baggage of both of the existing parties. Perhaps it will result in the emergence of a new charismatic leader who can serve as the voice of reason and compassion and lead the waitingnation out of the morass that is now finds itself in. I don’t know who that will be, but I would not be surprised if it another strong woman. It is well past time for that to happen and perhaps the country has never needed the difference in approach to governing that a woman could bring to bear than now (or four years from now).

It will take a little while for the current emotions of shock, anger and disappointment to settle down enough in the country for rational and organized efforts to get underway to resist the dismantling of the rights, privileges and protections that were put in place over the last 8 years (and before) and to begin planning for the 2018 and 2020 opportunities to take back the country. It would be a shame if the 65,844,954 million voters who did not vote for this president didn’t get better organized to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen again next time. The demographics have always been on the side of that majority, but the techtake actionnical mechanics of the last election were such that they allowed the minority to win. That can and will be overcome with the proper effort and commitment on the part of the majority. There is absolutely no need for this to be anything more than a short–term anomaly for our country and perhaps a one-term Presidency.

The good that come out of this is taking a serious look at the failures of both parties that allowed this to happen. The Republican Party did not imagine this outcome when thewinner-loser campaigning for their candidate started. They had several much better choices at the beginning, but those candidates allowed themselves to be bullied out of the way. The Democratic Party seemed to believe that it was entitled to win and chose a candidate that allowed herself to believe that, too. After all, how could she lose to that Republican candidate? The Democrats discarded the only candidate that might have defeated that Republican’s choice when they conspired to block the one candidate who was not beholding to the party elite. What a hoot that Presidential campaign would have been to witness.

So, who will rise to the challenge for 2020 to lead the nation back to sanity? I doubt that it will be Senator Elizabeth Warren, as many have predicted. She certainly has the intellectual capacity to be President; however, she has become as identified with the extreme left as any Tea Party member of Congress is identified with the extreme right. What will bring America back to an effective and productive middle ground of bi-partisan cooperation will be either a Democrat or Republican who is charismatic enough to ignorediversity the right and left litmus tests that the parties try to apply to their candidates. Perhaps it will be another populist, but one this time who espouses diversity, inclusiveness, compassion and a more centrist approach to things. I’m old enough to remember when moderate Republicans were allowed in that party and when there were fiscally conservative Democrats. Both have joined the Dodo bird in the Smithsonian display of extinct species.

So, it’s time to put this election behind us and get geared up to do a better job next time. There will undoubtedly be many fights about, and much anguish over, what happens in those four years. The good news is that we really only have to wait two years until the opportunity to put in place a new set of people in Congress who can slow or stop any destruction that the new President can effect. The Republican Party certainly sstart-with-mehowed us how effective having a majority in Congress can be to blocking everything that the President wants to do. It’s the game that both parties would rather play than focusing on getting the people’s work done. You have two years to be ready to effect change. Don’t waste that time lamenting what went wrong this year, focus on what you can help go right the next time and the time after that. It all starts with me. That’s what good can come out of this.

 


Pivoting to inclusiveness…

August 30, 2016

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this post, which I have re-blogged in its entirety –

“I used to use the word diversity all the time.  Now, I’ve learned to use the word inclusiveness.”  (Oprah)  I live in a community which is very diverse…over 60 different languages spoken in the homes of our high school families.  Oprah reminds us that it’s possible to be diverse without being inclusive.  “Inclusive” is an action word, to reach out and welcome in.  We are not really a community, a church, a neighborhood without being inclusive.   😉  Jack 

The change noted in Oprah’s quote is one of perspective. Instead of being “outside looking in” at how things are,  as the word diversity allows us to do; the word inclusiveness forces the perspective of being inside and taking action to be a part of what is going on all around us.

time for changePivoting is the term de jure in business and political vernacular this year. Literally it is used to mean making a change in direction or opinion about something, but is used to make the speaker seem somehow more businesslike or serious. In politics pivoting allows a candidate to change directions without seeming to be wishy-washy on something. The candidate can say that, “I didn’t change my mind on that, I pivoted.” Whatever, it is still a change of direction or mind.

One reason that some diehards are finally pivoting from the use of diversity to espousing inclusiveness is that inclusiveness allows them to remain somewhat relative and influential in the conversation orstubborn events that are happening, rather than being labeled as old fashion or accused of fighting a rear guard action against the inevitable demographic changes that are happening in our society. They have realized that they can join the movement or be by-passed by it, if they are hunkered down in their foxholes trying to resist the changes. In U.S. politics those foxhole resisters are the ones gerrymandering political districts to try to avoid being overrun by the demographic changes. Those “safe districts” are their foxholes and they are hunkered down in them.

Jack points out that it is possible to be diverse without being inclusive. It is pretty much impossible these days to be inclusive without also being diverse. There are certainly communities and even whole countries that have populations that are relatively homogeneous in their ethnic makeup; however, even in those cultures there is both some diversity (whether it be in class or religion or other characteristics) and most have achieved some level of inclusiveness. Some have not and we have seen the use of “ethnic cleansing” in many of those places, whether it is driven by differences in ethnicity or religion.

predjuicesEvents around the world and the massive movement of people throughout the world constantly force the reexamination of the characterization of people using the terms “Us” and “Them”. More and more of “Them” are joining the ranks of “Us”, such that the “Us” population is rapidly growing while the “Them” population is becoming smaller and less relevant.  The sooner we get to an understanding that it all of “Us” that have to learn to live together the better.

So perhaps, instead of building walls to keep “Them” out; we should be working on strategies and programs to help all of “Us” have better and more productive lives. We need not only to pivot to usingpeople talking the word inclusiveness; but, also to start living inclusive lives.  Just keep an eye out for the foxholes dwellers. There are some really frightened and angry people living in those holes. The challenge for Us is to figure out a way, not to by-pass Them, but to include them, too. Sometimes it ain’t easy being inclusive, but in all times that is better than the alternative. Let’s keep expanding “Us” until there is no more “Them”.

Have a great and inclusive week ahead.