All of us, who are interested in a more inclusive community, are hard pressed to identify the key variable in the process. In my time on this task I have identified 5 critical issues, all associated with inclusion, and wrote about these in my book, Beyond Difference (1996). The issues I identified are, Kindness, Hospitality, Generosity, Compassion, and Forgiveness.
All these years later, I still feel these hold, but I have begun to order these a little differently, putting "hospitality" in a more prominent spot. This upgrading of hospitality has happened over time as I have thought more about the core of inclusion. Recently, in a learning circle I conducted on inclusion and social capital, I asked folks in the session to define "hospitality" in a word. Here is what they told me it means:
Open; Unselfish; Loving; Warmth; Generous; Welcoming; At home; Accepting; Not on a schedule; Comforting; Excited; Belonging; Shelter; Inviting; Unconditional.
Next, I asked people to think of the most hospitable person they know; then captured some demographics on these people. Out of 25 folks in the learning circle, 60% thought of a women, 50% were relatives or a spouse/partner and about 30% saw a younger person (under 30 years of age).
So what does "hospitality" mean to you? And who is the most hospitable person you know? More, look for more ways to be hospitable in your life, and when we do this, we create a more inclusive community by our actions.