I’ve been thinking about inclusion. (This post contains profanity, you have been warned.) Out and about, driving one long pull from place to place. Subtract 6500 feet of elevation then add fifty degrees of friendly. Taking deep breaths until I get dizzy and need to kneel down. Recovery, really. A Black-crested Titmouse. A Blue Jay. A quiet calendar shattered by demands. The way it should be. So, I think about inclusion. The political climate in America rings hollow. Trivial, petty, divisive, but above all else, the political climate rings dumb. Profoundly dumb. Sideshows and posturing while hundreds of millions of tax dollars go to waste. The political stunt replaces policy. And the internet steps in to deliver it all, to everyone, at all times. What could be more perfect?
It has always been this way. The castoffs, the misfits, the outlaws. This motley crew is why America grew and why it continues to grow, but there are those among us who want you to believe that exclusion is the way forward. Us not “them.” And it doesn’t just mean “them” coming from the foreign lands. It means “them” internally. Those who fit a certain profile or category or demographic outside the most common. The only way to move forward, however, is as a collective and that means everyone.
I sit here typing with heavy machine gun fire in the background. A military base a few scant miles away. Short, controlled bursts my friends. Keep that barrel cool and save your rounds for the next attack. Clean and polish that weapon. You might need it again soon. Inclusion is where the power lies. In fact, the countries best positioned for end times are those with the best immigration policies. Those with the worst policies face an aging population headed for pain and drastic decline. You don’t want to keep out, you want to let in. With parameters, certainly, but in they must come.
And those who are already here, whoever they are, whatever they are, get to stay. And they get to stay who they are otherwise their talented is wasted. When I look to the sods we have in positions of power I don’t see talent. I see tainted goods. I see compromise. I see corruption. I see greed. I see hate for sport, and for political gain. When I was in middle school and facing down another day of football in physical education class, I would look at the lineup of my scruffy fellow inmates and laugh. What a bunch. What a of truly fucked up group of kids from every walk of life, every part of town and every as yet to be defined category. And yet there we were, all finding ways to fit together like human puzzle pieces, jagged and flawed, imperfect yet fully functional.
When it came time to pick teams I would often pick the kids that nobody else wanted. That oddball on the fringes who couldn’t run, kick or pass. He couldn’t defend, couldn’t hit, but nobody had ever asked what he could do. Turns out, he knew strategy and was a goddamn devious motherfucker. And when he was finally asked to offer his advice on this blunt instrument of an American game, well, well, well, the little shit had a plan. This was during the shirts and skins age, one team shirtless, the other wearing the standard black and grey shorts and t-shirt uniform. “Easy,” he said. “When you run across the middle, hold your shirt under your chin to make it look like you are on the “skins” team, then as soon as the ball is passed your way, lift your chin so your shirt drops and you make the interception.” NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY had thought of this. Sure, it was cheating, but rubbing is racing and all is fair on a middle school football field. It was magic. And it came from the kid that nobody wanted. All he needed was an invite to the game.
When it came time to play dodgeball, I picked him again. He had no arm, couldn’t catch and was an absolute liability but when I asked for his take he calmly looked at me and said “Stand near the edge and hide the ball behind your back.””Stand motionless and do not move.” “Eventually they will forget you are there.” “When you can, quickly turn and face your own team.” “Then, very slowly walk backwards until you are at the very back of the opposing team’s area. “Now, run forward at full speed and drill someone in the back of the head and then continue running back to your original side.” GENIUS. DEVIOUS. EVIL. But so goddamn tactically superior to anything else I had ever seen. It worked. And it came from the kid that wasn’t wanted. All he needed was an invite to the game.
Anything important in the world can be tied to a middle school analogy, and this little story is proof. We need to vote out the finger pointers. We need to vote out the racists, the antisemites, the sexist clowns and the phobic types and start working together to right the ship. It was estimated that Alan Turing saved over ten million people and shortened WWII by over two years. (He and his team.) And what did we do? Threatened him with prison and pumped him full of hormonal drugs. Then watched as he killed himself. The fact I’m writing this on a computer means the irony is firmly noted. Even though this was half a century ago, apparently, we haven’t learned a whole lot.
So, I’ve been thinking about inclusion. How can I not? I prefer addition to subtraction. More diverse, more better. More flavors in the field, more better. More options, more better. Perhaps I’m fortunate. Perhaps I don’t fear the unknown or unfamiliar. I don’t fear differences. I keep seeing that kid in dodgeball. I see his awkward haircut. I see his gangly frame. I see his agitation at the indifference. And I keep seeing his sly contribution that came from uncompromised observation. Geometry, algebra, slight of hand and the superiority of a keen intellect. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Ya, this little nugget rattling around in my head. There’s that.