In a vibrant corner of the world, amidst the lively celebration of Blacktoberfest, organised by the team at UK Black Pride. I stumbled upon a quote that would become the catalyst for profound introspection:
"Who belongs? Everyone that is present here. The only world we belong to is one that includes all of us."
These words, delivered in the warm embrace of my LGBTQIA community and allies, stirred a whirlwind of thoughts about the concepts of belonging, conformity, and that elusive term - "normal."
Let's embark on a journey through the tapestry of belonging where we'll explore the threads of kindness and empathy that have the power to shape a world that truly includes all of us.
The Illusive "Normal
The word "normal" is like an echo in our daily conversations yet it remains an enigmatic concept. Who defines what's normal and who determines the criteria for belonging? As we peel back the layers of this elusive word we realise that normality is a fluid, ever-changing construct. What's normal today may be considered eccentric tomorrow.
The Paradox of Conformity
Conformity, often conflated with normality, can be a double-edged sword. While it can provide a sense of belonging to a group, it can also stifle individuality and creativity. The question arises: Do we conform to fit in or celebrate our uniqueness, enriching the world with diverse perspectives?
Belonging: A Universal Desire
Belonging is a primal human desire. It's that comforting feeling when you're surrounded by your chosen community, a place where you're accepted for who you are. It transcends labels and embraces the beautiful mosaic of humanity. Belonging is not exclusive; it is inclusive. It doesn't discriminate based on race, gender or identity. It embraces all, just as the quote suggests.
The Toxic Air of Hate
In today's world, hate sometimes lingers in the air like tear gas. We see it in acts of discrimination, intolerance and violence. However, if belonging is the destination then kindness and empathy are the vehicles that will take us there.
Leading with Kindness and Empathy
Kindness and empathy are the foundations upon which a world of true belonging can be built. Kindness is the balm that soothes wounds while empathy is the bridge that connects hearts. When we lead with these qualities we create a space where everyone feels heard, understood, and valued.
The Power of Community
Blacktoberfest, like many other celebrations of culture and identity, exemplifies the power of community. It's a space where individuals can be their authentic selves, free from judgment. By fostering such communities and extending their principles into the wider world we can combat hate with unity.
The quote I began with, the one that sparked this journey reminds us that belonging is not a selective privilege; it's an open invitation to all. To achieve this, we must reject the constraints of "normal" and embrace the diversity that makes our world extraordinary. Let's champion kindness and empathy as the building blocks of belonging and in doing so let's weave a tapestry that includes every thread of humanity.