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Chickens and Inclusion

I've been thinking a lot lately about inclusion and exclusion. Who's in and who's out. To some degree, we all experience what it feels like to be left out. Sometimes it is a small slight that stings a little. It's hard to understand why someone would not want us to belong, accept us. It often goes to our core sense of self and our value to others. We have to work at not letting the message become true to who we are.

We have 27 chickens and ducks now at our farm. It is interesting to watch them navigate the social order. They are all sizes and colors, and even species. When we put the small black ducks with the bigger, yellow and white ducks, there was a bit of pecking but in a day or two, they were all nesting together. It took longer for them to accept the chickens, who were much smaller. I watched them approach each other, sometimes to lie down next to one or sometimes, to chase one away. Now there is a sort of détente among all of them even as they nestle in two group.

I've reflected a lot on inclusion as I have watched these birds the past 10 weeks or so. I have spent my life promoting inclusion and a sense of belonging for all children. Sometimes it was an easy sell for people who believed the same way. Other times, it was hard to change long-held attitudes. If people were given opportunities along with tools, though, inclusion had a chance at greater success.

I know the human experience is much more complex than chickens and ducks. I know that we may never had a world where everyone feels accepted and equal, deserving of the same liberties and opportunities. Sometimes it is simply overwhelming when we look at the world and all the injustice. But a community can be built by acknowledging differences and purposely, lying down together. It is scary to share a space with someone who thinks differently but I believe that peace is possible when we say, no more.

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