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Embracing diversity

February 21, 2022

I have friends all over the world, I don’t mean to brag, but it is so much fun to know people in so many places. What brings us all together? A love for community development, justice, and, in many cases, our love for God and our deeper understanding to be part of the solution.
We don’t see eye to eye on everything, we all have our own stories, our own experiences and our own passions, but we have learned many things through our years of journeying together.
As we work with communities we all value these things:
We recognize that everyone has their own story and we cannot assume that our understanding of the world is the same as theirs.
We never want to do for people what they can do for themselves.
We want to see justice and equity happen rather than bandage solutions.
We value the gifts and strengths of our neighbors, no matter where they are in life right now.
We value the journey.

In the last few years I have seen a sad development in business life, political life, social life and religious life: we are trying to become the ‘gatekeeper’ of who is considered ‘in’ and who is ‘out’.
In business it might be the language we use, the way we dress and interact, the way someone gets a job.
In political life, it might be the events people attend, the extreme swings in one direction or another.
In social life it might be the access to resources and connections.
In churches it might be the rules that are established for who is ‘in or out’.

I have been reading about the bounded set vs the open set and I love the concept. Instead of creating barriers, rules, and systems that keep people classified and separated (bounded set), we could be a lot more open, creating intentional ways for people to draw closer or further away. Are we primarily building bridges or fences? Both are important.

In business that might mean being open to the input from the young generation (and vice versa) and not majoring on the minors.
In politics it might be a way to bring people back together by creating open dialog instead of extreme boundaries.
In social life, let’s make sure we have opportunities for everyone to have access to resources and opportunities to grow.
In churches, let’s not keep people out just because they are different, but invite them in and let God love them.

By nature, I am a rule follower. I like my boxes. But my heart is changing, and today I would rather let someone into my circle instead of judging them first. It’s a start.

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