Embracing Inclusiveness – Part One
This week I gave a talk on diversity to the Lincoln Food Bank as part of their lunch ‘n learn series. I was asked to do this by a friend of mine, who has asked for my help many times in doing presentations, serving on panels, and facilitating group discussions. The topic: LGBT. Now for those of you not familiar with acronym, it means Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender. I always add a “Q” and an “A” to the end of it for Questioning and Allies. In addition, it seems I have been bombarded with videos and blogs about the conversation more than usual. And, I have talked just a tad to others about the impact our trip to Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia, had on me in regard to the Aboriginal population. I have all these thoughts swirling around in my head, and some times it helps for me to write them down. I am going to ask that you bear with me as you read through an imperfect flow of thoughts around inclusiveness.
Let me give you some history. Because of the gift I have been given in this life, I began to learn the true meaning of the word tolerance in my 30s. The seeds of this awareness were planted in my early teens, as I watched and listened to the struggles of the Civil Rights movement, and argued with my father about the intolerance of our country, and humanity in general. However, it came to rest with me when my beautiful child, Josef, told me he was gay. My fears were for his safety in a country intolerant of any sexual orientation dissimilar from heterosexual. This is my history…and I am very aware of any behavior less than embracing of others, for any reason, even as we seek to understand.
The issue of inclusiveness goes far beyond the struggles of the LGBTQA, and embeds itself in the very heart of the struggles we see every day between religions, countries, races, sexes, politics and so on. It seems we focus on our differences rather than what we have in common, and we often strongly resist those differences. This behavior sits in our churches, boardrooms, governments, schools and in our homes. It drives the issues we talk about: “bullying”, equity and equality, civil rights, Occupy Wall Street, politics, sermons, and yes – leadership.
As I share with you my core value of inclusiveness, I ask you to recognize that there is a continuum of behavior that goes with it, just as there is a continuum of skin color (white to blue-black), sexual orientation (homosexual to heterosexual), sexual identity (female to male) and spiritual growth (each person’s journey to the full understanding of the Source). The continuum of inclusiveness moves from:
Tolerance Acceptance. Inclusiveness. Embracing
Tolerance means the ability or willingness to put up with behavior or opinions that one does not necessarily believe in; the capacity to endure continued subjection to something.
Acceptance means the action or process of being received as adequate into a group; the willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation.
Inclusiveness means to deliberately not exclude any parts of society.
Embracing is to accept or support willingly and enthusiastically; to include or contain someone or something as a part of the whole.
I sit daily in my prayers and meditation with thoughts of how I might embrace everyone. I recognize with compassion that I often slip into tolerance with situations and people. I celebrate my progress in that happening much less often than it used to. I most often reside in and practice inclusiveness, with significant time being spent embracing my world.
I encourage each of you to practice the Buddhist meditation of love. It makes a difference in how you view yourself and others. It is simple, with four easy steps.
- Close your eyes, coming to rest deep inside your heart and soul. Wrap yourself in thoughts of love and compassion for yourself.
- When you are ready, think of someone you love and care for. Wrap them in thoughts of love and compassion. Sit with them for as long as you need.
- When you are ready, think of someone you meet on occasion; a store clerk, your neighbor three blocks over. Wrap them in love and compassion, praying for their greater good. Sit with them for as long as you need.
- When you are ready, think of someone you struggle with. Someone you tolerate or only accept. Wrap them in love and compassion, without judgment, recognizing with compassion that your feelings are yours, based upon your assumptions or beliefs, and move yourself deliberately to inclusiveness and then to embracing of that person as part of your whole. Sit with them for as long as you need.
When I see you next, I am hoping you are called to share a “belly hug” during our greeting. A belly hug is one which doesn’t stop with the shoulders, with your rear end sticking out. It embraces each of us fully, hearts touching, and let’s the other know that they are fully part of your world. It is full of love and compassion, and let’s the other know that you support them completely. I recognize fully that our culture frowns upon this type of bodily contact – and for that reason, you get to choose our greeting, whether it is a hand shake, an arm around the shoulder, a shoulder hug, or a belly hug.
For those of you who know me only through my newsletter, blog, facebook or twitter… as we get to know each other, I rejoice in the fullness of who you are.
Either way, I am hoping you know that I am consciously embracing you in my heart.
This is a short (or maybe long, as I am called to share) series of blogs. I will share with you videos and blogs I have received in the last week. As I receive more, I will share them with you as well.
I would love to hear from you about your adventures into and beyond inclusiveness, into compassion for and embracing of others.
Where do you reside most often?
Has the meditation helped you move through the continuum?
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