I have an international family. I was born in the US and my wife overseas. This has literally brought home insights into the difference between intended inclusion and true inclusion. The very real tendency to look down on people not from our own culture or circumstance is all too often not even realized.
I use the phrase “intended inclusion” to reference a counterfeit inclusion, where our good nature tells us that we really want to be inclusive, but an often-subtle pride makes us feel we are somehow better than or should in some ways have more privilege than others and this causes us to treat them differently. Our society is clearly focused on racial differences as a root cause of this disparity, but social class, education and personal philosophies can also create powerful barriers to inclusion.
This is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
True inclusion is when we no longer care about these differences. True inclusion is true love, simply because we are all children of the same Father in Heaven. He loves and cherishes each of us perfectly.
The Warehouse Guy…
Ken was a worker in our warehouse many years ago, a young guy without much education. At the time, I was excited to be designing what I hoped would be a revolutionary new component of our robotics system. Being a very small branch office, we were often in our tiny lunchroom at the same time. He was genuinely curious about my project work would ask me many questions. One day, as I described a design issue that I couldn’t see a way to solve, he surprised me by saying, “Why don’t you just change this to this…” and he proceeded to present an idea that I thought was brilliant. When I told him that I would like to try the idea, but didn’t know if I could get the special circuit board pattern fabricated in time, he volunteered his mechanical skills and he actually etched and cut the part for me from a piece of FR4, and in a very short time, with his pattern, I demonstrated the design could work. I came to look forward to our conversations because I was no better than him. He was my brother. My heart cries to this day because he struggled with a drug addiction. When office laptops began to disappear, we had to let him go. I lost a dear friend that day.
A man in a previous church ward I attended had some cognitive disability and spoke with a slight speech impediment. He was relatively young, and very hard-working, but he was not in a position to be independent and so he lived with and cared for needs of his aging parents. He and I were companions together in visiting the homes of members of our church, and I loved his simple and profound testimony and his willingness to speak up. As a church Sunday school meeting finished one day, we exited together and he began apologizing that the ideas he offered weren’t very good and probably didn’t make sense. I stopped him and, calling him by name, said sincerely, “I found what you said today inspiring. If I can’t learn from you, then I am surely lacking the Spirit of the Lord.” He also had become a dear friend. I felt more power from him than impediment, and once someone is in your heart, it really doesn’t matter. They have become part of you.
My inclusion test:
The real test of inclusion is not in trying to make someone feel welcome, but in coming to where, if that person were no longer there, a piece of you would be missing.
The Lord practices ultimate inclusion, and he practices it even if we really don’t deserve it.
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.2 Nephi 26
33 … and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
His arm is stretched out all the day long. Only we can practice exclusion, by excluding ourselves from Him, because he wants to be one with us in our thoughts and feelings and love.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:John 17
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
A final thought…
But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.D&C 49:20
I perceive that this scripture speaks of more than just material wealth.
I have failed to be inclusive too much of my life.
What do I think I have that I think is above another? What can I impart to be more inclusive?