Keeping the Faith, love, Tasmania

What Does Inclusive Mean?

What does INCLUSIVE mean?

Yes, I just asked you a really simple question that isn’t the least bit simple to answer. It seems we do all these well-meaning things to be a more inclusive society, but are they working?

Last week there was yet another call to remove The Lord’s Prayer from Tasmanian parliament so that it’s a more “inclusive” space.

It’s an interesting thought – excluding something that is meaningful to a part of the population to keep the rest happy. Exclusion to maintain inclusion?

Elsewhere, we’re busy adding to the Australian cultural space to become more inclusive. Adding prayer rooms for Muslims, adding acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land, adding the Safe Schools program to the curriculum for greater understanding of LGBTI people.

We’re adding this and subtracting that, all to achieve the holy grail of inclusivity.

My son has an allergy to dairy foods.

Often he will go to parties and not be able to eat a lot of the food. He’s cool with it – he understands that dairy products make him sick and he just knows to steer clear of it.

Sometimes he will go to a party and the host will have made something dairy-free just for him, remembering his special dietary requirements. A special cupcake made with oat milk and coconut oil with bright blue icing and sprinkles, for example. That makes him really happy. It makes me happy too, but it doesn’t make me think badly towards the hosts who didn’t remember. It’s just life.

I don’t expect the whole party to bend to the needs of my kid, nor do I want him to think it should be that way.

Imagine if he rocked up to a party where there’s a wonderful, buttery cake with buttercream icing and a cup of chocolate milk to wash it down. Then, the host realises that my kid, one of the guests, wouldn’t be able to eat it, so she puts it all away so that none of the kids can eat it. And then she serves up slices of white bread instead.

Inconceivable, right?

But that would be inclusive, if you go by the definitions being cooked up around us.

Whether there’s dairy-free cake at the party, or not, my son tends to have a great time because the environment is one of love, fun and participation.

Here’s what I think about this topic.

Words like inclusivity, tolerance, equality and antidiscrimination are being used to try to litigate love. They are cheap substitutes for love that attempt to bend wills to meet personal and political agendas. Look at the Safe Schools program – there’s been some noise to have it pulled from schools lately after parents raised concerns at content that advocates for students (as young as 12) becoming activists for gay marriage and experimenting with their sexuality, among other things. Teaching kids how to be transgender, how to bind their chests and draw rainbows on footpaths is not going to encourage an inclusive culture.

Love will.

I heard a talk by Dr Allan Meyer recently and he explained that love is not a “feeling” but a language.

He gave the example of our mother tongue. We learn language by observation and experience, picking up words and phrases from the environment we are born into until it comes naturally.

Love too, is learnt, felt and understood by the environment we occupy – so it goes to follow that love can be cultivated in loving spaces.

We need to get past the misconception that love is an involuntary feeling that just comes over us. We have control and we can choose love – to love the people we disagree with or have nothing in common with.

If our focus was less on accommodating this and that sub-section of society and more on Jesus’ directive to simply “love one another”, there would be no need to litigate cardboard cut-outs of love as we’re seeing.

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First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday February 22, 2016.

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4 Comments

  1. Bronwyn Baker says

    Your article brings some common sense repercussions of debate atone these issues so thank you Claire for speaking out with courage. It’s important that both sides are heard so the community arrive at their personal conclusion.

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