The third tool of civility is “Be Inclusive.” By definition inclusiveness is covering or including everything or open to everyone: not limited to certain people. The following is a list of related words: all-embracing, global, panoramic, broad, catch-all, grand, sweeping, universal, panoptic, across-the-board, far-reaching, unrestricted, extensive, and blanket. When I look at this list, I think that this is how we strive to be.
The opposite of inclusive is exclusive with the definition of excluding much or all. Its related words are limited, narrow, restricted, circumscribed, exact, individual, specific, incomplete, and patchy. Perhaps several of these descriptions are appealing, most are not.
While we try to see ourselves as inclusive, we are much more exclusive that we want to admit. As children we are taught our beliefs, values, ideas, and interest from our immediate family. We are further influenced by our friends and adults that are close to our family and friends. It is really quite natural that when we make our own way as adults, we will connect with others who have similar beliefs, values, ideas, and interests. Certainly, our many life experiences introduces us to many other points of view. Never the less, we do spend the majority of our time with those who think like us. And the truth is when we hear the same over and over again, we begin close ourselves off to differences from ourselves.
We become exclusive. Our thinking becomes one of opposites- Good/Bad, Right/Left, North/South, Obedient/Rebellious, Moral/Immoral, Saint/Sinner, Christian/Moslem, Male/Female, Child/Adult, and on and on. Our views are right, your views are wrong. We may first try to convince the other to our thinking, next we verbally attack the other’s views, then we may make some physically attack, and ultimately wage war.
There are other consequences of exclusiveness as well. IF we as humans did not think beyond our little safe world, Would Columbus have crossed the ocean, defying the notion that the world was flat? Would inventors and scientists experiment to develop the wheel, the assembly line, the radio, the airplane, the computer, vaccine, and so on? We lose dreams, aspiration, intelligence, creativity, information, knowledge, collaboration, advancement, and out of the box.
By nature we will continue to form groups of people who think similar to us. We will laugh and play with them. But for us all to thrive we need to take the time to develop a full comprehension of other views. Understanding is not agreeing, but an acceptance that there are other opinions. We already are inclusive with easy opinions. Here are just two simple examples. My favorite color is red and you favor blue. Our inclusiveness accepts that we are different and will not have the same preferences. I am a Packer fan and you favor the Bears. I grew up in Wisconsin and you grew up in Illinois. It simply gets more difficult with our strongest beliefs. Yet it is even more important for us all to work at the understanding of other points of view. For then you can find a solution that will enable us all to live peacefully together.
Therefore we need to practice or find ways to expand on our inclusiveness. This really means that you need to expose yourself to different beliefs, values, ideas, and interests. You are stepping out of your comfort zone. Reading is an excellent activity to introduce you to other points of view. The various forms of media offer many different views. Try new activities. Listen to what each person has to say about an issue. These suggestions need to be done on a regular basis because it gets you out of your exclusive mind set and into a more inclusive one. The more knowledge we gain from expanding our world, the more we will be able to deal with difficult issues in a civil way.
Orlaine I. Gabert
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