Blog & Opinion
19 March 2019 • Karel van der Lelij
How you can still exclude people while trying to be inclusive
At the beginning of the year, our colleague Alwine Lousberg died unexpectedly. Her sudden death came as a great shock and it took a week before I was able to collect myself. I got very little done. I spent a lot of time thinking and exploring my emotions. But it still seems completely surreal that Alwine is no longer here.
At the end of an emotional week I realised that in the previous days I had been doing the rounds to talk to (a few) colleagues. I told them what I appreciated about them and it was only afterwards that I realised why I had done that.
My first thought was that I had never done this with Alwine. I identified with the words from her memorial: “We have lost a lovely sweet person.” We had many wonderful conversations, but I had never told her what I appreciated about her. That was quite a rude awakening: I can tell others how I feel today, but I will never again have a chance to tell Alwine.
It took a while before I allowed myself to reach a second insight: perhaps because it hit a little too close to home. But I finally realised that in my round of appreciation I had skipped some colleagues. I hadn’t told everyone that I appreciated him or her. In my appreciation I turned out to be less inclusive than I would like to be. A week before Alwine died, I had written a blog in which I described that I wanted to get rid of every form of exclusion, but apparently it’s a lot harder to think and feel inclusiveness than I would like it to be.
This way of thinking reminds me of the evil dilemma of the Jewish father in the film God on Trial (2008). On his way to Auschwitz the German guards made him choose between his two sons. Which son did he love more? As the reverse of inclusion implied exclusion, he couldn’t choose. And who can blame him?
It doesn’t necessarily have to be on such a large scale. Unintended exclusion – because that is the unavoidable reverse of inclusion – is not the same as deliberate exclusion. It’s more pragmatic. The educational view and framework of THUAS makes inclusiveness manageable so that it https://nieuws.hhs.nl/wp-admin/edit.php?post_type=ba_shremains an achievable goal. This pragmatic leeway removes the dilemma and brings the issue back to a human scale.
I had great respect for the way in which Alwine embodied inclusiveness. She was a role model to me in that respect. For students, I continue to serves as a role model, whether I want to or not. By being inclusive, I hope I can help students experience how we can make inclusiveness happen. By not excluding anyone, I hope that students and colleagues experience first-hand that everyone belongs, even if it doesn’t happen automatically.
Karel J. van der Lelij #hiker and #cyclist; #man and #father; Senior Lecturer IT; #experience in #IT, #HR and #education; recruits #professional practice; loves his #students; above average interest in #philosophy and #literature; #Christian