Monday, July 29, 2013

Inclusivity is first in the MIND, then in WORD / ACTION

A few days back I participated on a Twitter chat hosted by Lakshmi where the key discussion was around “What does being Inclusive mean?” [NOTE: You can use the Twitter hashtag #InclusiveIndia to get a transcript of the chat]

The key points I made in this chat were:
1)     Being inclusive is about awareness, access, choices, freedom to choose, opportunities & appreciation.
2)      For many of us the challenge is not knowing what all we should be "inclusive about" and HOW?
3)      Intent is there in many a case, In action we fall short.. URGENT need to bridge the gap.
4)      And last but not the least, that being Inclusive is first in the mind, then in word or actions. Majority are guilty of excluding in thought

However, the thoughts continued to linger even after the chat. As I pondered more on the issue, I couldn’t help but wonder if inclusion and exclusion are indeed in the mind first and only then these thoughts translate to conscious / unconscious words / actions.

I strongly think so.

Many of us are guilty of having “per-conceived” notions of “inclusive” – These could stem from our upbringing, past experiences, personal belief systems, mental conditioning, prejudices or what we see in society. For many of us, the notions of “inclusive” and / or "exclusive" became the “default way” of life; and we don’t really give it a thought as a part of day-to-day life. So, we start “excluding” those that don’t “fit-in” our ways / views of the world.

And many times, we are not even aware that we are not being inclusive; and we don’t really mean to hurt or be insensitive – But end up doing so!

Let me give you a few real-life examples..
As children, many of us are guilty of “excluding” people whom we don’t like for any reason (For e.g.: We don’t like the way they look, the way they behave, the fact that they are better than us, etc.)

In a party, the “boys” exclude the “girls” many a time ; and "girls" exclude the "boys" many a time

As people from a particular group / community (For e.g.: Those speaking a specific dialect like Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Punjabi, etc. / religious group, etc.) we tend to “exclude” those who are not part of a specific group / community

Many of us are guilty of “excluding” dogs / other animals – from even basic living rights

Many of us are guilty of “excluding” those who don’t belong to our socio-economic strata in every thing related to our life (And this could be people who are way above or way below when compared to you!)

Many of us are guilty of “excluding” people who don’t belong to our inner network (read as friends and family) from anything to do with our lives

Many of us are guilty of “excluding” "differently-able" people ; Many times we ignore them or act as if they don’t exist

I'm sure I can continue and add a zillion more examples.. But I'll stop for now
The point is somewhere / somehow consciously / unconsciously these "inclusions" / "exclusions" started with a "seed of thought" planted in your mind...

I’m not here to say what is right or wrong
But just that many times, many of us tend to “exclude” others by design, default or circumstance..
And we’re really not aware of it

This is where a little awareness on what “inclusive” is, a little awareness on your own actions and a little sensitivity in your words and actions CAN make a DIFFERENCE!

On that note, as I conclude sharing a link which features 1000 Indian stories on being inclusive. The aim is that these 1000 real and positive stories will inspire millions more Indians to be Inclusive. Stop by here , and see how others are being inclusive.. It could burst a few bubbles for you!

Addendum | In my opinion, it would help if schools / colleges / educational institutes / organizations had regular sessions to create awareness on what being inclusive means, and also to sensitize people to being more inclusive as a part of everyday life.

1 comment:

  1. Good one. The other day I was helping my niece with an essay in an application to Columbia University (I'm an American) and she really struggled to understand the concept of "multicultural", which is as tough a concept to define/grasp as "inclusive".

    I was amazed by her struggle because she grew up in a generation that supposedly had this concept much more in her ears than my generation did...

    It seems to be especially tough when being "inclusive" or "multicultural" might go against dominant norms or even one's own emotions.

    How does one learn to do the right thing if it feels wrong? If it feels wrong, how does one know it is right?