It’s Christmas Day, and everyone is doing the ‘season of goodwill’ as well as they can.
We will all have our favourites – our favourite relatives, our favourite topics of conversation, our favourite TV programmes. At national holidays, when people gather, we are faced with sharing resources – people, minds, time – with others, and it has some interesting effects. During the year, we tend to live according to our own agenda. This society encourages individualism, after all, even if it eventually causes loneliness.
But at certain times, the agenda is generalised, people are brought together, and they have to work it out between them. The referendum on the UK’s membership of, or independence from, the European Union, was such a case in point. It took at least three years for the people of the UK to begin to resolve the difficulties caused by having to come together on a single topic.
Christmas can be like this. It can cause family rifts, or exaggerate those that are already there. Individuals or groups who have spent the year doing their own thing and getting by, are suddenly forced to collaborate with people and groups different from them.
ARE YOU INCLUSIVE?
What does ‘being inclusive’ involve? Perhaps:
Not assuming that you know what should happen next. Go with it.
Not assuming that you know the answer on every topic. Respect, and be curious about, others’ views.
Resisting the temptation to run away. Respect the presence of others in your life.
Not jumping down others’ throats. Tolerate everyone’s different way of doing things.
Not invoking the law of the jungle. Make an effort to ensure everyone feels welcome.
Just for today, watch yourself for signs of bigotry, arrogance, disgust, argumentitiveness, or dismissiveness.
See if you can encourage yourself to be fluid, engaged, respectful, tolerant, and welcoming.
Christmas, and similar public holidays, push us together to share time with others. This can cause disharmony, as it restricts individual freedom.
If we put our own interests above others’, we can cause rifts that last a long time.
If, however, we participate in a fluid, engaged, respectful, tolerant, welcoming way, then we give everyone the best chance.