Activity Being Avoided: laundry
Music In My Head: Hunting Girl – Jethro Tull
Tea Being Drunk: lemon mint
Book Being Read: The Sentimentalists – Johanna Skibsrud
A couple of weeks ago, Sister #2 came to visit me in my habitat, as she puts it. This is a pretty big thing: she doesn’t often volunteer to leave her own habitat. I was honoured—and we had a great time talking and eating and shopping and eating and complaining about food poisoning (which is what we call it when we over-eat, because it’s so much better to blame hygienic standards than to confess to one’s greed).
Sister #2 is one of those people that I trust implicitly because she’s never dishonest. Never. Not in any situation. As she works for the Government of Ontario, she’s found herself in some unpleasant positions because of this; for me, it makes a refreshing change from the politically-correct society I seem to inhabit. Anyway, Sister #2 was describing an “Inclusion” meeting she had to attend. Perhaps it was the stress of attending a meeting, or perhaps it was our upbringing, but she came up with an alternative to the mandatory lectures and great reams of incomplete, ever-changing policy : Exclusion.
Her theory behind Exclusion is that the current Inclusion meetings assume that there is a group of acceptable people, and said group is being forced to include others. Now, here’s where I see our parents’ influence: who said that one thing was acceptable and that others were unacceptable? Because one or more of your body parts doesn’t work, you’re unacceptable; because you are sexually attracted to something that someone else isn’t, you’re unacceptable; because you wear clothing or hairstyles that seem weird, you’re unacceptable; because you’ve had elective surgery, you’re unacceptable; because some white guys took away your land and converted you to Anglicanism, you’re unacceptable?
So, Sister #2 and I are creating a new type of meeting. These are Exclusion Meetings; they’re a litany of people you’re allowed to exclude from whatever you’re doing. Current Inclusion Policies will be burned and replaced with a list of things you’re allowed to cut corners on so that the Excluded People remain excluded.
Welcome to the Exclusion Meeting. Because you’re the Accepted Group, here’s the list of people you’re allowed to exclude: no one. Because you’re the Accepted Group, here’s the list of things you’re allowed to cut corners on so that the Excluded People don’t get in: nothing. Thus spake The Sisters. You may depart the meeting now.
Now, our parents also taught us that there are two sides to every argument. For every idiot who truly believes that they are The Golden Mean of Humanity, there’s someone who likes playing the victim. The fact is that humans find it difficult to understand things that they haven’t experienced, and if the Brass Extremes don’t educate people, they’re part of the problem. I thought about this a couple of weeks ago when I unintentionally embarrassed someone who, in a noisy room, kept turning away in the middle of her question. I’ve known this person for about a year, and somehow I’ve never had the occasion to tell her about my defective auditory nerves. I felt just as embarrassed as she did: if I’d told her, she probably wouldn’t have turned away.
I’m (finally) making my 2014 New Year’s Resolution: rather than just saying “Sorry?” every time someone mumbles or turns away from me while they’re talking, my request will be a full sentence. “Sorry, I’m hard of hearing. Could you look at me so I can read your lips?” As far as I know, no one has ever had the audacity to Include me, and it would be ridiculous to force them to unintentionally exclude me.
I think it’s very easy to sit tight within four walls (literal or figurative), where things are guaranteed to remain the same and one never has to confront the hard reality that is Inclusion. When large numbers of women stepped out of the kitchen and made themselves noticed, they started the process of gender equality; when the blacks had a dream in public, they saw glimmers of racial desegregation. If we’re ever to see the end of Inclusion meetings, we have to wipe out the perspective that there’s someone that could be excluded.