Juliet Rogers, Sierra Leone
Inclusiveness in society is a requisite by which democracy ensures that the systematic development of a society is done conjointly with the participation and the input of the very society for which the development is being planned. “Governments can enhance growth by increasing inclusiveness,” said Joseph .E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, University Professor at Columbia University and Chief Economist at Roosevelt Institute. “A country’s most valuable resource is its people. So it is essential to ensure that everyone can live up to their potential which requires educational opportunities for all.”
The inclusiveness of everyone into the fabrics of society is not only left with the leaders and elders. The youths are often regarded as the future leaders of society. Without debating the merits and demerits of this submission, it is my considered view that one cannot isolate the youths and then claim that they are tomorrow’s leaders. As youths, we believe that where we are today are where our leaders or parents were yesterday, and that where they are today, we shall be tomorrow if given the opportunity. Therefore, the inclusiveness of youths in society should start ab initio. The mistake of totally sidelining the youths, poses a great threat to society because the idle mind is the devil’s workshop. The absence of adequate jobs, the widespread poverty, the lack of commensurate food and dwelling for the youths have made us a society of idlers and drug addicts soon to become devilets, bedevilling the society for which we are otherwise destined “leaders.”
In addition, in a society like ours in Sierra Leone, the women constitute the majority of the population and for this reason alone, they too are a vital component of our society and must never be ignored in the planning process. Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, an American politician who was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, and served as the junior U.S. Senator from New York from 2001 to 2009 and 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, remarked:
“It is important to recognize that expanding the circle of opportunity and increasing the democratic potential of our society, as well as those across the world, is a continuing process of inclusion”.
Taking cognizance of this, the United Nations has committed to “leaving no one behind” in an effort to help countries promote inclusive growth and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In accordance with The Word Bank Group (2018), “Social inclusion is an integral part of—and vital to—achieving their twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.”
The World Bank Group (2018) went further to describe social inclusion as:
“The process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society, and the process of improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity to take part in society.”
In connection to this, it behoves me to state with no iota of doubt that a divided society is an unstable society which in effect denies that society of achieving excellence through togetherness and unity. This presumes that, society is most effective when all sorts and manner of its citizens are included (and or) involved in all facets of planning and decision-making. As the American poet and peace advocate Mattie J.T. Stepanek pointed out, “Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” It is also biblically said that “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” These are all true statements which cannot be contested justifiably.
With the inclusion of all in the development process of a society, it is almost invariably ensured that the actual needs of the society and not only individual needs are addressed. In order to achieve this collective requirement, it is incumbent on the legislative body in Sierra Leone which comprises the parliamentarians, mayors, councillors that are elected in every district, to ensure that they relate with every section of the community in a bid to ensure that the needs of the people are expressed and accordingly addressed by the Government. Justice Williams O. Douglas (1918-1980), the then Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, asserted: “The concept of the public welfare is broad and inclusive…the values it represents are spiritual as well as physical, aesthetic as well as monetary. It is within the power of the legislature to determine that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well balanced as well as carefully patrolled.”
I have dared to explain that inclusiveness in society is a vital process through which the actual needs of society can be identified and addressed. I have also made it positively clear that unity is strength. This is a positive attribute of inclusiveness. The idea of segregation and or un-inclusiveness is noxious to development and oftentimes than not, leads to egoism, selfishness, dictatorship and other facets of under-development. “Segregation is evil;” said Lillian Smith, “there is no pattern of life which can dehumanize men as can the way of segregation” As The World Bank Group (2018) describes, “There is a moral imperative to address social exclusion. Left unaddressed, exclusion of disadvantaged groups can also be costly. And the costs—whether social, political, or economic—are likely to be substantial. One study found that exclusion of the ethnic minority Roma cost Romania 887 million euros in lost productivity. In addition, exclusion also has damaging consequences for human capital development.”
In the meantime, reflect on these words:
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South. ( From Abraham Lincoln, former President of the United States, on June 16, 1858)
With all the things considered, I wish to state unequivocally that a fragmented society cannot succeed in its developmental efforts. It is pellucid, as I earlier on mentioned that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Therefore, it is but undoubtedly important to note that unity is strength and thus, very much necessary to see “inclusiveness” as a vital weapon for economic and social developments. Without the cooperation of all facets of society, there can hardly be achieved the consensus needed to fast track national development.
Our strength lies in our diversity and we are only as strong as we are united. We are as feeble as a broom fiber when divided. We can reconstruct Sierra Leone with the “right ideology” and the new commitments to positive change.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success,” reported Benjamin Franklin.
The most developed countries in the world have achieved positive development status largely because of unity and cooperation from all facets of society.
We must all remember that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) (Which was also known as the Soviet Union) (1922-1991) became a world power before it became fragmented during the Second World War (1939-1945). There is no doubt that in this 21st Century, the USSR now Russia is struggling to regain its positive glory as a world power. This goes to prove beyond doubt that the efficacy of a nation largely depends upon its inclusiveness of all facets of society in the pursuit of national development.
The Chinese, a most populated group of people, have achieved great economic and political advancements because they have all come together and rallied round their natural leaders in unity. This has without doubt resulted in the socio-economic and political strength of this part of the world as a super-power. There could be no doubt as the subject suggests that inclusiveness and national cohesion are not only essential ingredients of civilized living but also a sine-qua-non for socio-economic development in any country.
The writer, Juliet Rogers, is a Sociètal Engineer, Life & Emotional Intelligence Coach.
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