Updated: Feb 13
A perspective on inclusivity
Ever been told by someone else that you “aren’t being inclusive” or “narrow-minded” just because you disagreed with them on a subject matter? On the flip side, how would you normally react when someone expresses a viewpoint that contradicts core values and beliefs that you hold on to?
We live in a world where the need for inclusivity has never been more pressing and apparent. Across all matters of the heart such as race, religion, gender, education and socioeconomic status, there have been growing efforts to promote inclusiveness amongst people from an individual to international level. The question is, why is inclusivity so necessary to us?
Inclusivity, as defined by the Cambridge dictionary, refers to "the fact of including all types of people, things or ideas and treating them all fairly and equally". Take a trip down world history and we quickly realise just how hard some of our forefathers had to fight to preserve their rightful place in societies that did not value them because of prejudices towards their differences, even if it meant sacrificing their lives. We see how the fight for racial equality within countries manifested itself in some of the most violent wars and riots, and how some of the biggest cultural revolutions happened all because of one person’s radical conviction for equality and fairness.
The importance of Inclusivity
As we observe, inclusivity holds a very sacred place in the heart of humanity where every individual genuinely desires to be seen and heard regardless of who they are and where they come from. Its sacredness stems from the basic need for belonging and acceptance which are both predicated on the fundamental human right to human dignity. When we experience a clash of values or principles with others, most of us naturally feel vulnerable and subjected to their criticisms and judgements. To cope with the possible threat of having our deepest prejudices exposed and dogmas deconstructed, we often stoop to either asserting our opinions and rejecting everything the other party says, or we rather downplay our convictions and momentarily agree with their opinions even if we do not agree with them just to avoid feeling outcasted. Sometimes, while it may be wiser to agree to disagree in some cases where all parties are unable to come to a concrete resolution about a topic, it is also perfectly normal not to have an opinion about something if we have yet to reach a certain level of understanding about it. Regardless, we must always consider the inseparability of one's dignity and strive to preserve it even when tensions are high during disagreements or whether or not they can constructively contribute to a conversation.
What should inclusivity look like?
Real inclusivity safeguards the universal virtues of human dignity and equality, where there exist genuine respect for one another regardless of our differences. To build an inclusive society, it is imperative to first acknowledge that every individual has a voice. This voice, no matter how soft or simple it may sound, is deserving of a place in society to be articulated and listened to. It may not always need to be acted upon but it is only fair that we pause to listen to its intended message.
However, while we may have a choice of how we want to voice our message, we do not always have the privilege of deciding the consequences that come with it. Facing opposition is only normal and it is up to us to set and hold ourselves to a standard of discernment and class that we choose to uphold in the midst of it. Therefore, true inclusivity does not seek to segregate alternative prospects just to build uniformity but takes into account opposing views and seeks to improve the lives of those around us. Being inclusive individuals do not mean that we must nod our heads in agreement with every opposing view especially when we are not fully convinced. Given that the purpose of inclusivity serves to unite us despite our differences and disagreements, the pressure to conform to the majority just to feel included should never be the case. Rather, the desire for inclusion should drive us to connect with others who are different from us to understand them better.
Food for thought
After all, how can we become an inclusive society if we do not make an effort to build bridges of mutual understanding with those who are different from us?
More importantly, how can we grow if we are always so insistent on keeping to like-minded people for comfort's sake?