He chose to include the things
That in each other are included, the whole,
The complicate, the amassing harmony.
(Wallace Stevens)

INCLUSIVENESS LEADS TO A VERY DIFFERENT LIFE THAN EXCLUSIVENESS. Those whose basic instinct is to “include” end up with different circumstances than those whose first thought is to “exclude,” so our decision between these two outlooks is far-reaching.

Ideas. The lens through which most of us look at ideas has a pretty narrow focus. We tend to consider very specific ideas, and we don’t think about how those ideas are connected to other ideas. Intellectually, we would do well to use a wider-angle lens. We need to back up and see more of the big picture. Viewing ideas in their larger context will help us to prevent errors in our thinking and judgment.

Interests. Our interests are often as narrowly focused as our ideas. Intensely practical in our interests, we have little time for anything that doesn’t solve an immediate problem. But truly, the world in which we live is a fascinating world. For those who are fully engaged with life, there is not much that is not interesting. And the more inclusive our interests are, the more useful we’ll be to other people.

Activities. In these days of specialization, many of us spend so much time in our individual silos that our activities begin to be very narrow and predictable. While it is certainly possible for a person to be too busy for his own good, I believe most of us would profit from a greater variety in our activities. I urge you to look for things to do that will stretch you — widening your imagination and your experience.

People. If we would profit from more inclusiveness in our ideas, interests, and activities, we would profit even more from a richer variety in our relationships. This is, by far, the most important kind of inclusiveness to strive for. There is a tendency for us to limit our contacts to individuals within a narrow profile, but if we would make an honest effort to be more inclusive, the results would surprise us pleasantly. With human beings, inclusiveness is hard, but it’s worth it.

“The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, ‘I was wrong’ ” (Sydney J. Harris).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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