Inclusion is a pretty easy concept to grasp. Most people understand what the word means and yet, inclusion isn’t at the top of our society’s priority list. As a society, we’ve actually become experts on exclusion. If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, you understand why inclusion should be important to all of us.
This week is Inclusive Schools week, an opportunity for discussion in our schools on how to educate all students successfully. Have you heard of it? Probably not, as there is little to no mention of it. The schools are just one place where the worth and abilities of every child should be recognized. There’s a broader need for the idea of inclusion in our country that needs to be promoted across the board.
As a special needs mom, I’m quite familiar with the lack of inclusion. It’s impacted our daughter and our whole family. Yes, schools need to do a lot more, but they can’t without the support of families and communities. It starts with every single one of us. We have a responsibility as a community to help foster and sustain a sense of belonging for all people. We’re not lacking in an example of how to treat all people with equal respect and yet, we still struggle doing what’s right for all.
I’ve been thinking a lot during this Advent season about how God is always inviting us in and how he never excludes anyone. He never turns anyone away. Why would we? We’ve all excluded or ignored someone at one point or another. At some point, we’ve all felt like we don’t belong. But if we could all remember to commit to decency for our fellow humans, no one would ever have to feel uninvited. We all have different beliefs and backgrounds, but we can agree that avoiding others who are different or treating them less than ourselves is not inclusion of all people. Valuing and respecting our fellow man and woman is where inclusions really starts.
Let’s stop being so good at excluding and start making including a part of who we are and everything we do. Each of us are needed to make the changes in schools and in our communities toward inclusion of all people. Everyone needs to belong.