A few weeks ago I attended a Cultural Diversity workshop for work. It was a great course and I am happy to be working for a company that embraces such classes.
One of the things that was discussed in the class was the idea of inclusive versus exlcusive behavior. What is this? Well, simply it is the idea of either including or excluding people in our meetings, conversations, activities, etc. To harbor exclusive behavior tends to create a hostile environment.
If you think back to High-school you can probably remember all of the cliques, clubs, groups, etc. If you are in those groups you felt included but any groups you were on the outside of made you feel very excluded. That feeling of exclusion is not a good one and nothing good ever comes of it.
In my High-school we had the misfortune of having several suicides. This was sad at the time and is even more sad looking back. As I look back at these situations I see that these individuals were excluded from groups for reasons that were not based on anything but assumptions. We never took the time to really get to know each other.
As I move through my day to day life now I see that society is still set up this way. People are still basing their opinions and snap judgements on assumptions that are based on their perceptions of situations. No one ever stops to think about what long term effect their actions will have.
I go to work daily to a very exclusive environment. What have I done to be on the outside? Well it is my understanding that I am sick- too sick to be tolerated. I guess too sick for anyone to have compassion or understanding for but just sick enough to have hatred.
So if it is not enough to deal with my illnesses and my life I must also deal with being hated and excluded because of it.
What do I do in these situations? Well, I smile and go on with my life ignoring the situation at hand. I rise above the situation to be the bigger person. I just pray that the people that are passing judgement on me never have to walk a mile in my shoes. I fear they would not be strong enough to survive it.
What I ask each and every person reading this to do is to STOP next time you are faced with a situation and before you form a snap judgement based on your perceptions get more facts. You might ever try talking to the other person or persons involved and try to understand the situation. It is through understanding that we can truly care.
What kind of environments are you encouraging?
For the betterment of mankind I think we could all try to be a little more inclusive in our day to day lives :o)