I am about to decide that choosing be inclusive is like swimming upstream. The choice to exclude is made with relative ease. But it takes a conscious choice to be inclusive. I have been reminded of this reality in the past few weeks, as the coordinators of my 35 year high school reunions continue to work diligently finding and communicating with ALL classmates. I should explain…
I went to school through the 7th grade in Racine, Wisconsin. My classmates that went on to graduate there have adopted me like a child that was separated from his siblings at age 13. And then there is my 1980 Monterey High School class in Lubbock. I actually DID graduate from Monterey. (A few were surprised at the time.)
Tracking classmates down after 35 years is no easy undertaking. Communicating with each person entails a major time commitment. And then persuading them to attend a reunion is another challenge. It’s swimming upstream, because it would be much easier to throw a party for the friends we have stayed connected with over the years. It would be a great time and much easier! But my peers are choosing to get in the river and fight the current.
They have inspired me to stay in the river as well. Even when the current is flowing in the opposite direction. Being exclusive is no trouble at all. Family members can plan a gathering or getaway to the mountains and conveniently leave out the siblings or cousins they don’t want to include. They don’t feel as close to that person, so someone fails to receive a call. It is easy. It is less trouble. And it’s hurtful.
Friends can to do the same thing. I think with friends it is more likely to occur because of carelessness. It takes time and effort to think about each person that should be invited or called. And sometimes we are just hurried. I know I have been guilty of such flippant behavior. But I know it’s hurtful.
Throw me in the river. I am ready to swim upstream. Quite frankly I can’t stand seeing those I love left out. I am committed to inclusive behavior. My classmates have inspired me these past few weeks. I have a lot to learn, but the only way to do better is get in the river and swim upstream. Feeling left out? Try getting in the river.