When I was looking for something inspiring around inclusion, I stumbled across this quote from one of the most famous people in the world. Gandi’s life work was all about inclusion. He worked throughout India and in the world at large to raise up the importance of all human life.
What does it mean to say a culture can’t live? I think it means that the culture will not thrive. There will be more problems than solutions, and not enough joy. Culture is the sum of what we value in our lives: our choices, how we share our joys, how we support each other, who we select to lead us, how we celebrate our achievements. Culture is something often taken for granted and always hard to influence.
At a recent meeting at ASI, one of our resident advisors spoke about inclusion. She said that she was looking forward to finding new ways to bring the people she supports into the neighborhood, to be seen. She made a very passionate statement about how those who don’t understand what we do and why, will look to our behavior as a model of what is right. If we understand each other, we will the the culture that is thriving, as Gandi talked about. Another staff member told me that a Vet who saw our staff interacting with people we support, stopped to say that we were “doing God’s work”.
We have an important role in shaping the culture. We are obligated to find way that the people we support can be seen valued and honored. And we need to support people to find their place and their voice in the community.
Today I went on a nursing home visit with participants in the Alternative Program. These three ladies waited patiently to deliver mail to people in the home. And I saw how they valued and were respected for what they did. I saw the appreciation of the residents and the staff. One resident asked each one of our participants to tell her their names. Each of the participants told me how important it was to see the people in the home and to smile.
Let’s celebrate what we have done to bring joy to our participants and their neighbors. And let’s be reminded that there is more work to do before we will all be respected as equals.