Inclusion / Separation
January 16, 2006

Sometimes what you do doesn't matter nearly as much as the one thing you neglected to do or that you forgot to do.

Sometimes what you see as a simple alternative becomes a threat to someone else. Or, it gets translated, somehow, into a veiled complaint even though no threat was intended and no complaint meant.

Sometimes ... sometimes exclusion hurts even more than a vicious comment.

But the problem is, how do you balance the very human desire to be who you are, to say what you mean ... and to also be in a place where you feel comfortable and not attacked? How do we build a place to relax and be ... and still let others be who they want to be?

Any time there's an us and them division, there's hurt and people begin lashing out.

Today, in the U.S. is Martin Luther King, Junior Day.

Its mere existence is enough to piss some people off.

Sometimes, in the attempt at non-violence, we simply attract more violence to us. It's easy ... it's human ... to become enraged when others don't react as we expect. Particularly when we lash out in anger and expect others to lash back out at us. After all, when we're both lashing out in anger, we're at the same level ... we're communicating on a common ground and wrestling. But when only one person lashes out, the division between us and them feels even greater. There's that back of the mind guilt that we might not even be able to admit to ourselves is there ... if this person can withhold that anger, why can't I? And then it becomes, "why should I withhold my anger? 'They' deserve it ... they're not better than me or anyone else." And then the anger intensifies.

Societies, passwords, restrictions ... openness, anarchy, freedom. Where's the balance between safety from the darker instincts of human nature and inclusion?

The civil rights workers congregated in safe places ... they congregated in their churches, in homes. But, as the movement became more well known, those places were no longer so safe. People lashed out against them, burned the churches, burned the homes, beat people, killed them. Despite being dedicated to non-violence, they tried to protect themselves by posting guards during meetings ... not to perpetuate violence, but to serve as a warning to those inside. They tried to create a safe zone. But in doing so, the feelings of "us" and "them" simply intensified. And yet, knowing that the divisions were still building, they still tried to work to break down those feelings of exclusion and violence, knowing that while it might help in the long term, in the short term ... the short term would probably be very painful in many, many ways. They met as safely as they could ... and then they left and went out to try to spread their message.

Sadly, those who truly try to challenge the prevailing system and ask us to try harder ... to try harder to work toward inclusion of all ... despite all of our faults and our failures ... are often destined to be hurt by the people they are trying to include. Where is the balance between shaking the dust from our feet where we are not wanted ... and working for change? When is working for change simple suicide ... and when is it for the greater good? And how do we ever learn to discern the difference?

The problem is not so much in creating a safe place with like-minded people. It's in never venturing out of the safe place into the larger world ... the more risky world. There's no shame in congregating in safety and bolstering each other ... so long as we then venture out into the buses, the diners and march for what we truly believe in.

Posted by Red Monkey at January 16, 2006 7:30 AM | Blog | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

Wow... what a great way to write this... What great points...


January 16, 2006 8:05 AM


Otto K. said:

Great post, Ender. There are parallels here to so many things going on today.

January 16, 2006 8:55 AM


Nicky said:

Excellent writing, and a point well made about human nature.

On a slight tangent (you know me) this:

"Societies, passwords, restrictions ... openness, anarchy, freedom. Where's the balance between safety from the darker instincts of human nature and inclusion?"

..reminded me of a book I read recently, where one of the characters said:

"Freedom without restriction is just a word"

It's much like what Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching, pointing out that we unfortunately need the dark side of humanity to exist for us to fully appreciate, and ultimately to actually define, the "bright" side of our society(ies).

January 16, 2006 1:41 PM


EF said:

Ender, I am so impressed with this post. It has helped remind me of the responsibility of freedom. Thanks.

January 16, 2006 6:31 PM


Moody Loner said:

Good one, Ender.

January 17, 2006 9:52 PM


otilius said:

The balance between Comfort Zone and Safe Haven can be tricky. You're right, we can't get/be so comfortable that we never leave the house or blindly condemn anything foreign. Or just settle for How Things Are...
Yes, too, it is very ironic how non-violent protestors get treated so violently...

January 18, 2006 9:10 AM


seawave said:

Ender, all I can say is, wow. I am stunned by this post, by its depth, by its application to so many aspects of the world we live in. Brilliantly written and thoughtful.

January 18, 2006 6:03 PM


Lonnie Hodge said:

You went to writing school or sumpin' din you?

Great post Ender!!!

From the lone white face in a sea of similarity...

January 20, 2006 8:24 AM
Free Pixel Advertisement for your blog