One international example comes to mind: refugees. A couple of months ago, the issue of Syrian refugees became a hot potato in international politics. The very heart-breaking stories of small children dying out in the sea during a desperate attempt to seek sanctuary were broadcast. Yet no nations are taking active measures to include these people who have lost their safe homes, and the refugees are still drifting around risking their lives, in the blind hopes of settling somewhere.
There is another example that is closer to the everyday lives of people in Korea: pregnant women. It is a social problem in Korea that people do not easily give away their seats for pregnant women in public transportations, thus diminishing the level of inclusion for pregnant women. In the case of subways, the seats specifically designated for pregnant women have been recently redesigned to be screaming pink, stressing that these seats are meant for expectant mothers. However, subsequent reports show that despite such apparent signs, the situation has not improved much and pregnant women are still struggling to get seats on subways.
I would say the problem of lack of inclusion comes from indifference. Of course, we do superficially know that the situations of refugees are terrible. We know pregnant women must be having physical difficulties and should sit down. But we simply don’t care enough because it is not our situation. We remain indifferent wrapped up in our own bubble of life, busy with our own lives and problems. We don’t think we have enough time to worry about others.
The issue of indifference I pointed out is rather obvious itself, and the follow-up cliché solutions would be to “walk in other people’s shoes,” “be more active and caring in inclusion matters!” Yes, these are all still good suggestions, and no, I am not creative and ingenious enough to think up of original, fresh solutions.
So what I want to ask here is this: are you yourself truly included in this society? While looking into the topic of inclusion, I personally thought that inclusion is another word for respect and acceptance. True inclusion would be being respected for your original self and being accepted and admitted to be a part of society. Then are you truly respected and accepted as a member of your society? As a student? As a female? As a citizen of your country?
My concern and question is that maybe none of us feel really included in society these days. Maybe we are all living separately in our own world that we fail to include anyone, including ourselves. Maybe inclusion is not an issue specific to particular groups of people we label, such as gay people, people with disabilities, refugees and pregnant women.
If this is the case, then all individuals are involved with the question of inclusion and are constantly struggling to be included whether they explicitly know it or not. So the attitude of being indifferent to the issue, thinking you have nothing to do with problems of being included, would not be appropriate. Everyone should strive to make a more inclusive society for everyone.
I hope this discussion serves as a chance for you to ask yourself the true meaning of inclusion. How do you want to feel included in the society you live in? What would a truly inclusive society be like? What is your part in realizing the ideal inclusive state?