Inclusiveness: What Does it Mean?
We all have heard of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Since our early childhood, our influences (our parents, teachers, babysitters, daycare sitters, etc.) have repeatedly reminded us that if we treat others with kindness and extend a welcome, then we should receive similar behavior in return. This rule sets the ground for a peaceful and unified world. Unfortunately, our modern world, and at times, our schools, struggle to remember this foundational rule. Growing competent in inclusive acts and being a part of diverse communities takes genuine effort today. Let us all change that into a natural habit, an instinctual behavior.
Inclusiveness is a Communal Effort
Discrimination is the opposite of inclusiveness. To deliberately exclude one or multiple individuals from an activity is frowned upon; yet, it is a daily activity typically done on a social level and more times than not, goes unnoticed by the community. All schools falter in some way, shape, or form to wholly exercise inclusiveness and that is the fault of the group as a whole, not just administrators, teachers, or students; it involves everyone in the community. Therefore, if we desire a more inclusive space, everyone must intentionally work towards it. Be more mindful of how you treat others, learn from one another, and do NOT be afraid of getting to know new people!
Consider these questions: Why is it that people eventually stop caring? Why does it seem that way on certain days, but not others? An explanation could be complacency.
To be complacent means to be smug and “overly content” with a current state.
To be complacent means leaving matters untouched and unsolved.
Complacency means “comfortability,” but at what cost?
A note to the students: If you take anything away from high school, it is to always be hungry for more. More of what? Knowledge! Growth! Change! Advocacy! There is always a need for reform and on a large scale, social reform. It suffers the greatest damage as efforts are made by few each year, but are quickly squandered or simply lost in the chaos of everyday stress. Regrettably, people naturally bounce back to a medium and in most cases, revert back to old habits if newer and more “acceptable” ones are not reinforced. Even then, people fall back to a medium. It is the community’s responsibility to consistently push for a common goal for the benefit of the whole, not for the individual. Espouse unity, kindness, and effort.
Our School Environment Matters
When you take apart all of the components of school spirit, school atmosphere inside the classrooms and halls, and general student energy, it is undeniably true that the school environment matters. Inclusivity can only be nurtured if people care. People, as in the whole group, not just one or two individuals, molding a more welcoming space takes time and continuous effort. It takes resilience. Those who strive to create change understand that this goal is exhausting but necessary. No one enjoys feeling isolated or alone. Even the most introverted people desire to associate themselves to a particular group of people. It is a part of our biological makeup to crave fitting in.
Humans crave to feel loved and appreciated. However, that is unattainable if groups continue to wander from class to class with their eyes closed and their ears covered. By this, they are blinding themselves from the little acts of neglect that could be transformed. An inclusive act is as simple as asking to sit with someone new in class, asking someone who usually works alone to join you in a group project, and even exchanging hellos. Next time you walk the halls with your AirPods in, blasting at full volume in your ears, pay close attention with your eyes… stay vigilant for anyone in need of a friend, of a friendly greeting or even a quick smile.
It is an enormous task to expect any one person to solve everything with inclusive acts. However, there are always groups working hard on fostering a more inclusive community. People ARE interested and invested in creating a more unified space.
Diversity alone has various components, in relation to Gilmour’s community.
The Communal Challenges
Diversity has various complex components, but respecting each other’s human dignity and voice is the underlying aspect. Sadly and individually, can all reach a state of mind of complacency. As year pass by, complacency becomes easier. Still, there are glimmers of hope. We ask randomly, “Who will initiate such change?” But we continue to mind our own business and do nothing, We expect someone else to handle what we could and should handle ourselves. This demands great strength to reform.
It is easier to be upset and frustrated and submit to complacency than be empowered by these frustrations and formulate a plan to initiate reform. Be the person to further the aspiration of change. Inspire everyone around you to continue the effort of inclusivity.
Complacency can strip away the potential to foster the kind of vibrant and inclusive community we envision, want, and deserve. In truth, we may all be guilty of discussing amongst one another how the school itself falters in this aspect, but what has the student body done to create such change? How consistent and genuine is this effort by students? My words will likely stir some heated discussions and the expected “if you feel that way, offer a solution.” Here is one: students must talk and have these raw conversations; after all, it’s OUR vision.