Why this strong title for a post on hope? Because I wanted to write about social exclusion. When I was studying for my Masters in Social Work, I read an excellent paper by Robert Merton on this topic, entitled Insiders and Outsiders: A Chapter in the Sociology of Knowledge.
I think back to a memory of my school days when they were picking teams and I was the last one to be picked, an afterthought, an outsider. I think I have always felt on the outside, looking in. I think we either feel like an insider or an oputsider.
Now where does hope come into all this? I would like to turn to a man I really admire, named Yeshua, or to give Him His English name Jesus. I think Jesus was the champion of the outsider. And here is one example. The leper was healed when Jesus spoke the words “Be healed”. No, Jesus did not touch the leper to heal him. He touched him to show His acceptance of a man who felt rejected. The gospel of Mark, which recorded this same incident, mentions that Jesus touched the man because He was filled with compassion for him.
Jesus touched the lepers, the lonely and isolated. the rejected., the outsiders. Jesus displayed social inclusion. Working in a food bank, I meet many people who are poor. do not have a home, have drug and alcohol issues, physical or mental health issues. And they are all welcome and not judged. They are outsiders welcomed in.
I think having experienced that feeling of being on the outside, it makes me acutely aware of when I am not included or invited along. However I use this to try to ensure others never feel like that. I try my best to make everyone feel included, no matter how challenging they may be. Of course social etiquette is important, however some people in society do not experience much kindness and it is my mission to be kind to others.
Today’s recipe of hope is to think about those on the margins. It is to consider helping people who may be outsiders and struggling. It may not be possible, but even a smile to someone who lives on the streets is important, because it means they are not invisible.
May you all feel welcomed and cherished X
Also published on Hope 2018.
https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/225294 (accessed 13/08/2020)