Not being included, not having a feeling of belonging, or of being welcome can be uncomfortable, lonely, angry, sad (to name a few) – all of which add up to a feeling of separateness.
Depending on who we are, this feeling of not being included (of exclusion) can be familiar or unfamiliar.
If it’s unfamiliar, we can walk through our days with a sense of belonging that we can take for granted.
But if exclusion is a familiar feeling, there can be daily reminders that we don’t belong and are not welcome – looks, comments, actions, not feeling safe, physical altercations, being ignored or left out…etc.
Bullying is used to exclude: to make someone feel alone, unwelcome and ‘less than’. It happens in schools, on the playground, in workplaces, on the transit, on the street – and through the media on a large scale.
Spreading fear of the ‘Other’ is a more insidious form of bullying, which creates a negative stereotype of a group. “Othering” is a tactic often used to ensure people (populations) follow suit, and participate in the alienation of a person or a group of people. These fear tactics producing an “Us vs Them” mentality have happened throughout history with devastating results (Nazi Germany & Rawanda are two examples) and it is currently happening quite visibly to the Muslim population Canada – whether already living here or as a consideration for entry. They are not the only group experiencing this in Canada, but it’s a current and particularly public example.
If you haven’t yet read the article in the Globe and Mail by Sheema Khan published on October 7 (Fifty years in Canada and now I feel like a second/class citizen) please do.
And then please reflect on the type of country you want to live in, and how your actions contribute: a country that values inclusion and human rights for everyone, or one where those values only apply to some people?
Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion
Radio Show Host – Creating Families