"Diversity ... is not polite accommodation. Instead, diversity is, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim on the world as you do. And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out to create the bond that will protect us all. We are meant to be here together." ~ William Chase
Perhaps the most common response to the suggestion that New Thought spiritual communities could do more to foster diversity and inclusion is, “but we welcome all people here.” Which may be true at some level, but, as Ernest Holmes wrote, we only know what we actually demonstrate, the rest is theory. My response to the statement but we welcome all people here” is – ARE YOU DEMONSTRATING DIVERSITY? All too often, the answer is no, not really.
The commitment to greater diversity and inclusion requires a change in the consciousness of the spiritual community, both individually and collectively. Saying that we are already open to diversity is insufficient – manifestation matches consciousness. Until there is a true consciousness of invitation, acceptance, and humility, the status quo will remain the same. We experience the effects of our current consciousness until we change that consciousness. You know – New Thought 101.
Others question making a focus on diversity and inclusion a priority, when we should be focusing more on spiritually-motivated social engagement. To them I say something like what my Dutch-American friend Micheil Roelof Jan Doorn has written:
“Life on Earth is really only about spiritual evolution. And about joy. Spiritual evolution is both a deepening and widening of consciousness toward increasing diversity and complexity and deeper connections with all that is. The outer component of spiritual evolution is change. We can't grow spiritually without serious change. Change in our perspectives and, thus, in our behavior. This is why compromises, measures and solutions that allow us to continue to do what we do are not enough. They may be intermediate steps at best, but ultimately they miss the point of our existence.” ~ Michiel Roelof Jan Doorn
If as consciously evolving spiritual beings be do not see the necessity of bringing diversity and inclusion into the conversation about serious change – which must, let us acknowledge, begin on the inside of each of us – then can we expect our desires to manifest fully? If we manifest according to the consciousness we have developed to this point in our lives and we are not demonstrating peace, compassion, and justice in our personal, communal, and societal lives, does that not point us for the need to redouble our spiritual practices? Are we really ready for the massive changes ahead of us? Or are we hoping that things will settle down or that others will step forward to solve our collective problems?
Diversity and Inclusion is in the SUM Curriculum because we need every voice to be heard; every idea, every possible solution to be voiced. The problems of humanity today require our most intelligent and compassionate responses. If our spiritual communities consist of a narrow slice of humanity, can we say that we are capable of creating a truly inclusive consciousness? Also, do we accept that inclusion is a step beyond diversity? Inclusion is bringing people with different identities and backgrounds to the table as full participants in the ongoing process of co-creating spiritual community. Inclusion is not about not seeing difference; it is about recognizing how those difference contribute to a greater whole.
New Thought principles speak to the development of compassion for all as a reflection of a deep recognition of Oneness as a basic principle. They speak to the triumph of Love over fear. They also provide practices as pathways to deeper realization of these principles. We are One. Each person arriving at this realization and developing it into a deeply held knowing can fully contribute to healing self, community, and society. We must rise above the noise of fear and find our Truth in the silence of spiritual practice.
The SUM Curriculum is a pathway to and evolved spiritual community capable of engaging with the larger community. A community bringing vision, love, compassion, and competence to the process of societal change. We will find many allies along the path.
“The truth is, dear friend: there are far more people in this place working for equality, diversity, love, and justice than opposing them—and it isn’t even close. There are hundreds of millions of people in this world who (just like you) wake up every day trying to be the kind of person the world needs; lavish with compassion, overflowing with generosity, relentless with love. You are, even when you’re not aware of it, surrounded on all sides by like-hearted people who are not okay with the suffering around them either.” ~ John Pavlovitz