Creating Radically Inclusive Environments
In a world that often feels divided, I stand strong in my belief that embracing kindness in the face of adversity is how we live our best lives. Kindness isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. It’s the foundation of every meaningful interaction. Whether we’re with folks who see the world like we do or with those who challenge our viewpoints, kindness is our superpower. It’s not just about being nice; it’s about being courageous enough to lean in and truly celebrate what makes each of us unique. So let’s make a pact to approach everyone with an open heart and radical kindness, because that’s how we create a world where everyone belongs.
When it comes to legally mandated categories of inclusion, we’re all in agreement. But we should also embrace people with kindness no matter what they’re passionate about, what their political beliefs are, what fandoms they’re a part of, or any other differences we encounter. Our differences are what make us unique and interesting, and should be respected.
For example, I’m not really into Harry Potter, but my friend Shelby is, and I find it fascinating to observe her enthusiasm about it. She has a stunning Harry Potter-themed tattoo sleeve and is always talking about the latest updates, from the movies to the video games.
Sadly, there are many people out there who are disrespectful to other people’s passions, such as Shelby’s love for Harry Potter. Instead of appreciating her passion, they might say things like, “Seriously? You’re still obsessing over Harry Potter? You’re so lame.”
Overcoming Political Divisions
Even in politics, we follow this principle. In our society, people are deeply divided and view the “other side” as enemies. It’s painful to see so many people filled with anger and animosity towards those who don’t share the same political beliefs. It is crucial that we remember that these people are not inherently evil. We’ve all been conditioned by society in various ways such as our upbringing, cultural beliefs, and personal biases. Just because they see things differently from us does not mean they are “bad” or “wrong”.
I’m not proposing that we need to discuss nor embrace others’ politics. But we should at least try to understand the other perspective and respect each other’s beliefs even if we disagree. This what it means to have an open mind. Who knows — we might even find some common ground. But even if we can’t, we can still approach the person with a loving heart.
Through personal connections, we can create more inclusive environments in our workplaces, our communities, and our social circles — a place where everyone feels valued, accepted, and cherished. We should strive to be more than just surface-level acquaintances; we should strive to forge deep, meaningful connections everywhere we go.
The Challenge of Responding with Kindness
At times, life brings us face to face with individuals who challenge our values. Recently, I found myself working alongside someone who seemed to lack the spirit of inclusivity and kindness. On multiple occasions, he expressed his general dislike for the people around us, making it clear that he had no intention of befriending anyone in our workplace. He endlessly complained about and criticized others within our organization. His humor was divisive and mean-spirited, and he always found a way to put others down.
In some instances, he would abuse his authority to pull mean-spirited jokes. One time, he called a colleague, demanding to know their whereabouts and reprimanding them for being absent from where they were “supposed to be.” I was taken aback when I discovered that it was all just a cruel joke, a form of hazing which left the rest of us feeling uneasy and disconcerted. This and other incidents highlighted the stark contrast between his behavior and the way I believe we should treat others — with respect and empathy.
It was a challenging experience, especially when I was repeatedly the target of his abusive behavior and mean-spirited humor. With each incident, I could feel myself becoming more cynical. The toxic environment left me feeling burned out, and as a result, I started to build up my own emotional defenses. It would have been so easy to retaliate by treating others poorly, but I knew deep down that wasn’t the right way to handle it.
Embracing Kindness in the Face of Adversity
As I reflected, it dawned on me — this person’s behavior was challenging my principles, testing me. Was I going to allow his negativity to influence my worldview? Was I at risk of becoming just as unkind? How long before I’d start shutting people out, building walls around myself, and abandoning my commitment to being open and vulnerable with others? These questions haunted me, forcing me to examine my core beliefs and examine whether I was truly capable of embracing kindness in the face of adversity.
Rather than dwelling in disillusionment, I resolved to deepen my dedication to living a life filled with love and empathy. It dawned on me that I needed to live up to these values, even towards him. This was a chance to exercise compassion, even with someone who seemed closed off and distant. I committed myself to understanding him better so that I could engage with him from a place of genuine empathy. I aimed to serve him to the best of my abilities, demonstrating kindness and offering assistance wherever possible.
Embracing kindness takes us on a journey, calling on us to offer compassion to all, even to those who may not reciprocate. It challenges us to delve deeper into the depths of empathy within ourselves, seeking to understand the life stories that have shaped their perspectives. By choosing love and vulnerability rather than defensiveness, we create an environment that fosters meaningful connections.
Every day, my conviction in living a life that uplifts others around me grows stronger. I am committed to treating everyone around me with love, kindness, and empathy, and celebrating the beauty and uniqueness of their lives, including their passions and interests.
Through navigating the challenges of working alongside someone whose actions go against these values, my dedication to them strengthens rather than falters. By choosing to respond with kindness, understanding, and compassion, we not only uphold our own principles, but also inspire others towards positive change. As we continue to nurture meaningful relationships within our communities, we contribute to creating a more empathetic and inclusive world. Let us dedicate ourselves to uplifting others and building a brighter future together.