From Tolerance to Inclusion

It has been an adventuresome week for me in so many ways.  As a grandfather, I got to attend my grandson’s grade 8 graduation.  As a citizen of Canada, I was intrigued by the celebrations of 150 years since Confederation. As a member of a proud community I watched and listened to local celebrations.  As one who still has work to perform I moved between the highs and lows of life itself.

There have been a few words that also have been quite prevalent this week.  One word that seemed quite positive at one time, yet now doesn’t hold the same for me is the word “tolerance”.  It used to be that tolerance was a good thing, but maybe not any more. It is no longer acceptable to just tolerate one another and our differences.  A better word I have heard used is that of “inclusiveness”.

A number of months ago I participated in an Inclusion Tour offered by our local Community Living Association.   The main purpose of this event and others like it was to show us that individuals with what have been called disabilities should not continue to be left out of society.  The Inclusion Tour reminded me that all people have something to offer.  They are to be more than tolerated; rather they need and want to be included.

Of course, the next question often asked is: included in what or with whom?  There has been much controversy over the 150 Celebrations in that for the most part the Indigenous people have not necessarily been included.  The concern is very legitimate.  As a first generation Canadian I realize the errors of “colonialism” and the need for change, but what change?  It begins with listening and more inclusiveness as a nation.

I was impressed with the words of Buffy Sainte-Marie when she spoke of creation not be longing to any of us, rather we are only caretakers. It would be a good start if we could all start to think along these lines and less of an “us against them” approach.

The same can be said for all of life itself.  In this world we are given a life but need to respect it in all forms.  Too often we take life itself for granted.  Sadly though, none of us knows when something may happen to bring about a major change.  When I was starting out in the work force I was quite sure that even my job was secure – not so much for the young and even not so young of today.  Yet the truth is that we don’t have job security.  In Canada, we have universal health care yet no one knows when we may be stricken with a life-altering disease or even death. But we don’t even want to think about that, let alone talk about it.

Let’s not just tolerate the fact that life is uncertain (and do more that eat dessert first).  Let’s include all aspects of life in our living.  When we do we can be certain that life is even more worth living.

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