Innovating a Better Way to an Inclusive Society…Kindness is Key. #70 #cong17

By Thérèse Kinahan.

I used to call my Dad ‘The Genius’.  He used to be ahead of his time on many aspects of life.  I wonder if he would have enjoyed a weekend in Cong, if he was still with us.

He was recycling back in 1966 and built a rainwater tank at the back of our house.  As a farmer in the rural midlands, his philosophy on life was ‘everyone is my neighbour’ and my ‘life hack’..the code I live by ..Kindness is Key.

Our family is often compared to a mini UN, and I have in-laws who are Italian, Greek American, Irish-American, English, Dublin, Meath…the joke being the Dub is the real foreigner.  I was married to a Liberian and have two bi-racial children, one biologically biracial and one culturally biracial.  We are not a melting pot.  We certainly retain our individuality and create a beautiful mosaic.

In recent times, there is much in the media on racism.  Most racism is due to lack of experience and lack of knowledge.  When I was doing a study some years ago on culturally diverse teams in our health service, I found a difference in understanding between the Irish staff who worked only in Ireland and the staff who had worked outside of the country.  I came on a quote from the writer Hofstede (1991) who said that

‘Cultural Sensitivity is subtle.  Bias is always looming around the corner’

I raise the question, in the light of recent publicity, as to why some people experience more racism than others.  I discussed this with my daughter.  She offered the point about resilience that we as parents build with our children.  There is that great nature/nurture nugget!  We have to move away from the ‘our own’ mindset and also the stereotyping, be it of the refugee or the Dublin Executive standing up stereotyping the Tech Exec in ‘The Country’.  We have different ways of doing things in different places but we should be able to respect that.

Ironically, on the morning of Cong17, my son sent me a link where he was interviewed by RTE.  The message RTE and other media outlets who shared this piece are trying to convey is that there is a rampant racist problem everywhere in sport.  The message my son was trying to convey in his interview was that he had one isolated incident in his childhood and his overall experience was positive.  We had just been chatting on the topic recently and he has had no bad incidents in years, he’s now 21.

Key: How change is managed and openness to change is the key to any strategy

The question can we influence society for the common good to be more inclusive?

Can we create a beautiful mosaic together?

How can we hold our media to be more accountable ..and dare I say accurate?

One last note of interest…we chose a Catholic School in Tullamore for our daughter when she was starting as it was quite international, including travellers.  Yes, there was a Gaeilscoil.  I learned that some people chose the ‘Educate Together’ school (in another town) because Travellers didn’t go there….but ‘oh we want to be open and inclusive’…missing the point, eh?

Thanks Eoin and Class of Cong17.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie