Gossip destroys the congregation
Spreading rumors wrecks community
Any controversy built up with the sword
Orunmila will cast it away with Irukere
- Holy Odu OyekuOdi
The includer is someone whose basic philosophy of life us that there is room enough for everyone who wants to participate. If you are one of those people who hates to see people unnecessarily excluded, who is continuously trying to expand the circle of community and who sincerely believes we're more similar than different, then you're probably an includer.
Orunmila himself became the people's choice for leadership precisely because of his inclination to accommodate all characters. At the same time, however, inclusion brings with it special responsibilities. When I worked at a major university in California, for example, the administration was very frustrated and a bit discouraged because their diversity initiatives only seemed to have created lots of animosity and chaos. "What's the problem? What are we doing wrong?"
The basic problem of inclusion is that you have to change the way you operate. You cannot keep doing things like you dis before and expect that to work for new comers. In the university example, they had not realized that the cafeteria food, the music at the social events and even the guest lecturers and symposia were either irrelevant or offensive to anyone who is not of European descent. They were fatally unaware of their biases.
The exact same problem occurs in Orisa Lifestyle, wherein new devotees are disgruntled by the language and cultural barriers that divide them from their priests. In fact, a considerable percentage of my own students have gravitated to me precisely because I speak a language they can understand. Here are three things you can practice to make inclusion easier and more beneficial to all:
1. Know your biases: take nothing for granted. Question everything you go, why you do it and how it might be perceived or experienced by someone seeing it for the very first time.
2. Manage expectations: get very clear about the limits of your practice. As a rule, it is smarter to under promise and over deliver.
3. Over communicate: explain it like you're talking to a seven year old. Be concrete. Be specific. Avoid generalities and relativism. Leave no doubt about what you want people to think, feel and do. Tell them! Tell them again and again. It will seem redundant. But it is necessary to help people understand the context for their experience.
Inclusion should increase understanding, not sow seeds of suspicion. Try these practices and let me know what kinds of results you get. And if you're interested in 1:1 coaching, please give me a call at 510.485.2336