We All Belong
What does the word ‘inclusion’ mean to you? The opposite of ‘exclusion’? Well let’s focus on that word for a second…
Exclusion (or its derivative, exclusive) I see as having positive and negative meanings. In the marketing world, exclusivity is often desired, and the word ‘exclusive’ is used to attract consumers, to make them feel special (like they have some sort of elite status). Exclusivity can have its upside for sure. Socially, the upside of exclusivity can help people feel like they have status. Social exclusivity can be safe, predictable and foster a sense of belonging… as long as you are part of the group. SO what if you are the excluded? Implicit in the word ‘exclude’ is the idea of not including something or someone. Socially, that flip is the experience of being on the outs: Potentially a lonely place to be.
So, back to my original question… what does ‘Inclusion’ mean to you? Take a look at the artwork featured at the top here. It is a piece by artist Anne-Denise Mejaki titled “We All Belong”. It happens to be one of my favourites by Ms. Mejaki. Lots of her art is filled with hidden treasures: small images intricately blended into a larger theme. This one in particular features all kinds of examples of social belonging. I always feel good when looking at it. I guess the concept of inclusion, or belonging, is close to my heart and I believe she has done an amazing job of illustrating that in “We All Belong”. This piece has been used for fundraising at public education events with the Canadian Mental Health Association in North Eastern Ontario, to raise awareness of mental health.
Why mental health you might wonder? The emotional impact of social exclusion can be devastating particularly if the exclusion involves aggression. Think about how often we hear about bullying in the school-age population; aggression that now includes persecution and exclusion in the cyber world… many times having tragic outcomes. Even without aggression though, feeling excluded hurts and can lead to mental illness.
As you go on with your day today, I hope you find a small way to include someone in your world. The smallest gesture of a smile or a compliment can lift someone’s spirits and help them feel connected. Feeling connected can go a long way toward preventing loneliness and promote validation.
If you want to know more about the “We All Belong” painting, click here for the story of the work, written by the artist.
Wishing you a day full of meaning and belonging,
Lisa Goddard BA, BScOT, Certified Pilates Mat & Reformer Instructor, Owner