‘Being inclusive … means building an identity upon letting people in. And redefining who you want to be by who you want to be with.’*
Everyone is capable of doing something in a way no-one else can – we often miss the nuances but there’s some way of relating or thinking or behaving that brings a slightly different dimension or perspective. It doesn’t mean we have to act all exclusive because of it, though.
Alan Lightman tells a story from his early research days when, in the final days of writing things up for publication, he came upon a freshly published article from two Japanese scientist who’d solved the same problem, with results within three decimal places:
‘I experienced a complex set of emotions. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. I grieved the loss of several months of my time. I worried about whether the wasted effort would compromise my chances for an assistant professorship. But then, another emotion began working its way through my body. Amazement. I was utterly amazed that people on the others side of the planet, with no correspondence between us, no comparing of notes, had decided to solve the same problem and had gotten the same answer to three decimal points. There was something wonderful and thrilling about that’**
Beneath this personal tale of being scooped, then realising how amazing science and mathematics are, there’s a personal journey from exclusivity into inclusivity witnessing Lightman moving to a place of wonder. As John O’Donohue insightfully writes, ‘when you wonder, you are drawn out of yourself.’^
To make a personal or corporate journey from exclusivity into inclusivity isn’t easy, though, especially as it requires suspending the way we see things in order to see from another person’s perspective, redirecting our attention from ourselves towards others, and letting go of exclusive goals for inclusive ones shared with others. Inclusivity means we get to wonder from the inside of things.
“When the universe makes you wonder, all is at it should be.”^^
What’s more, people who include those excluded by others are also including themselves. Ultimately is a loving act. Erich Fromm offers a helpful framing of love:
‘Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is “standing in,” not “falling for.” In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving. … Giving is the highest expression of potency. In the very act of giving, I experience my strength, my wealth, my power. This … fills me with joy. I experience myself as overflowing, spending, alive, hence as joyous … in the act of giving lies the expression of aliveness.’
Love is giving and, therefore inclusive; it’s not waiting to receive, especially permission from others – which is how we often let exclusivity win.
Bring what you see.
… the absolute eyes of children,
dirt blobs jewelled,
rusty strips of tin,
ducks, dogs, flowers …’*^
(*From Hugh Macleod’s gapingvoid blog.)
(**From Alan Lightman’s A Sense of the Mysterious.)
(^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(^^Cirque de Soleil’s Varekai, quoted in Alex Mcmanus’ Makers of Fire.)
*^From John O’Donohue’s Echoes of Memory.)