Why do we need to feel included, why does everyone need to call attention to it, even? One complaint I hear a lot among older generations is that this new generations are too "soft" or that they get easily offended, and that they want to be coddled and accommodated, that they lack the backbone that people in their generation had. That they don't understand that the world is a hostile place, and won't change- that it is up to you to adapt and survive. What I think they don't realize, is that line of thinking is actually a trauma response. They grew up in a world they thought they could not control- so why even try, why call attention to yourself when that could endanger you, why rock the boat? It is indeed a cruel world, because we humans make it so. But it doesn't have to be. We might not have the power to change a whole culture, but we can start by changing our mindset, and helping others change theirs. Empathy goes a long way, and feeling that there's other people there to support you, even if they don't understand you, means the world- even if there's only one.
What these new generations learned from them, is that hiding the problems won't make them magically disappear. They will fester and rot in the shadows, sometimes becoming worse than they originally were. What these new generations have understood from watching their parents and grandparents struggle, is that is not that they were not offended, but that when they were and dared to express their feelings, they were mocked, and dismissed and ostracized. Or mistreated, relegated to the back of the bus, even killed- for what they believed, for the color of their skin, for the way they loved. The ones that were not allowed, or couldn't, express their feelings- learned to mask them, hiding their true selves, lowering their heads to avoid the danger. In both cases, the problem was there, the damage was done. Not acknowledging the problem didn't save either from pain.
These new generations decided at some point that it was enough. I'm not sure when these changes started, because it came on the backs of many people that were strong enough, and courageous enough, to put their lives in the line and change things. Generally, people look back at the 60s and 70s as the time when most change was effected, but in reality the fight was started many years ago, slowly changing the minds behind the scenes, until the ones in charge began to notice.
These changes we see today, the diversity that these new generations have fostered, the desire that they have for inclusion, for empathy, for understanding the marginalized, for giving them a voice- It's the result of years of pain, and the work of so many that endured that pain. It's not that this new generation of people suddenly lost their backbone, or became "soft". I think it's the exact opposite, they decided to use that backbone and stand up for what they believe is fair and honorable, and to use their "softness" to empathize and help the ones that needed it. Listening to my daughters speak gives me hope that the world will indeed change, and that this change is for the better. As my 9 year old brilliantly said to me the other day, the bullies of the world are just hurt people, we need to love them and show them what kindness look like- because they probably never had anyone do that to them. Modeling inclusion to the people that oppose it, might work the same way. Slowly, they will come to get used to it, just as they got used to not having it in the first place. It won't be an easy task.
Inclusion of all individuals, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, color of their skin, or whatever determinant someone singles them out for, should be the norm. We shouldn't be surprised when we see it. It should be so common, that we forget how it wasn't, just a few years ago. Everyone has intrinsic value, everyone deserves to be able to use their gifts to help in society, and to be recognized for their efforts, to have the same baseline to start from, to have a shot at the life their work can bring them when they are fairly compensated and acknowledged.
These new generations still have a long way to go, but I think their work is already changing the culture. And as hard as change always is, that is a good thing.
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