Monday, December 30, 2013


Inclusiveness is a positive thing, right? I have always thought so. At CYC we have practiced "intentional inclusivity" for decades, though I am not sure we call it that anymore. Basically, we make sure that every member of our community is part of all our programs and activities in a way that is good for them.

Recently, I heard of a different take on inclusion.

In preparing to go to  Burma, we were advised to call the country "Myanmar" in public because that is what the government wants it to be called.

When we got there, we discovered that that's really not very crucial ... the government isn't concerned overmuch with what tourists call the country, They have chosen to call it Myanmar. They say it is more "inclusive" because "Burma" refers only to the majority ethnic group, the Burmese, while "Myanmar" covers everybody.

We thought that was good, because inclusion is a good thing.

So we believed (and do believe as regards how inclusion is viewed here)

However we were later  told that the government in Myanmar wasn't being positive about inclusion. There attitude is more one of control. Also, they chose "Myanmar" from one of the darkest periods of the history of that nation. They are using the name and the idea of inclusion to assert authority, not to foster equality.

Oh. Well, that's a different story isn't it? The Burmese people in refugee camps outside the country prefer "Burma," even though that's a name that British put on them. Burma is the name I learned and the one used by the people who love the country so that is what I will continue to use.

All this did make me reflect on inclusion, though, and attitudes surrounding it. It may be good to consider why we want to be inclusive and how we want to be inclusive. Certainly it is good to examine how others are using words and what they mean by them.

What are your thoughts?

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