Do We Really Want Inclusive Communities?

Recently in a conversation with a great friend, I started having new thoughts about what kind of communities do we really want to live in. Is an inclusive community really good enough? Is there a better idea?

As we examine the word inclusive, it implies that there is an includer and an includee. The includee wants to be included and the includer gets to decide whether the potential includee will be included or not. We hear this all the time from people who are considered marginalized. They say “I just want to be treated like everyone else and be accepted for who I am.”

Is this good enough? That us privileged get to sit in judgement and as gate keeper. In another experience that I had with a First Nation woman, she called me a “White Savior” and she didn’t want any white savior saving her. I was extremely hurt by this accusation and did not see myself as a savior, but rather as a helper. She wanted to be my equal and ally. I believe she is more than my equal, but somehow I presented myself as superior.

So these two conversations got me thinking. Who am I to be an includer and do I really want a community where there are includers and includes?

And then I came across the word integrated. What would it be like to have an integrated community? In an integrated community, every person has a respected and important place in the community? There is no includer or includee. There are only citizens who are all respected, belonging and contributing members to the fabric of the community. This is true whether they are highly educated or not, wealthy or not, healthy or not. What ever their difference, it is an important difference integrated into the fabric and spirit of the community.

Our language matters how we call things.

What do you think? Would you rather have an inclusive community? Or an integrated community?


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