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“Seeking truth leads to social inclusion”
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“Seeking truth leads to social inclusion”

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NnadozieReflecting on why many are quick to exclude those who are not like them, Nnadozie Onyekuru, 28, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria now studying in the USA, finds it is easy to dismiss such people as hidebound, but a patient apprehension yields other answers.

All over the world, there are people who hesitate to include others in their societies – not because they are intolerant but because they fear losing their identity. Identity, then, is at the heart of the struggle to build inclusive societies. Identity reveals that to include, ironically, also means to exclude in some way.

Every society is defined by its premise of inclusion. In the opening book of the Politics, the Greek philosopher Aristotle points out that every community exists for the sake of some good. This means that every society has a peculiar goal that encourages the common action of its members. That goal is its premise of inclusion. It determines who belongs and who does not belong voluntarily to that society. This fact can be easily glimpsed from the operations of smaller groups like sports teams. The good of a soccer team, for instance, is to play soccer. The soccer team would therefore exclude badminton players, except the ones among them who also play soccer.

The Commonwealth of Nations is not set apart from this truth. At certain moments in her history, she found reasons to exclude some of her members. My country, Nigeria, was one of such members and importantly, at a time her national was included in the governance of the organization.

Now, this argument about inclusion finally excluding presents its own dilemma. Doesn’t it justify those who always seek to divide us? Doesn’t it justify those who seek to exclude peace from our cities and villages because we do not share their nightmarish visions of society? Doesn’t it embolden those who argue that we should always refuse the other?

We ought to dissolve such a dilemma by proposing that whenever a rally for inclusion is in accord with truth, it would not fail to evoke a universal moral authority. Consider the outcry of some movienistas over a perceived lack of diversity in the recent Academy Award nominations. The cornerstone of their advocacy for excluded thespians was the artistic excellence evinced in movies like Selma and Concussion. The inclusion desired by the disappointed movienistas was in accord with truth. Those responsible for the nominations also indicated that their omissions were on the basis of art, not colour. This means that the debate over inclusion in the nominations was framed within the context of truth.

The same can be said of the inclusion that William Wilberforce fought for. If his fight turned out to be the siren of slavery’s end in other parts of the world, it was only because it was in accord with the truth that all men are created equal. In testifying to that equality, Gandhi invoked the endurance of truth with his concept of satyagraha.

Another freedom thinker, Pope John Paul II, was also a proponent of truth in political societies. Writing to his flock and the world in Centesimus Annus, he observed that “if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power.”

The world finds itself at such a moment. Recently, the Oxford Dictionary declared “post-truth” its international word of the year. Many who lament this development do not realize that the post-truth age arrived long before now. It came to the public in stealth mode like lightning, which strikes long before the rumble of thunder in the clouds. The only hope for an exit from such an age is a deliberate return to truth, not just in the news, but in all aspects of socio-political life.

Truth builds lasting inclusion because truth does not change; it unites time. Whenever I think of inclusion, it is truth that lifts my hopes. If societies across the world would fashion their premises of inclusion in truth, not even the faults in the world’s stars would stop the fruits of inclusion from ripening and spreading the peace which we hunger for today.

Photo credit: Liz VH

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About me: I am a Nigerian student. I love books. I am young and enthusiastic with firm dreams that are only tempered by Christianity. I dream of a world where people, inspired by their common humanity, engage in a global wheel of ideas and do not use history as a tool for blame game but as a lesson for the future. In my spare time, I write stories, speeches and participate in activities that advance the respect of human dignity.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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