working together for social inclusion in America

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Assimilation is Annihilation

If you google the term social inclusion, you'll come across volumes of sites and articles, but basically only two concepts: bridging the digital divide, and promoting literacy. There's lots of discussion about how development of employable skills and social infrastructure like libraries and public transit help, but at the end of the day, the whole point of this global initiative--touted by governments and associated institutions--is to mold more people to fit the wage and welfare society that caused the problem of social exclusion in the first place. In other words, same old.

Access to the Internet and education of one's choice, of course, are good things--and indeed essential to creating social cohesion--but if there are no opportunities to use one's education or digital connections, then what's the point of becoming another unemployed, uninsured, unwanted, net-surfing statistic? Where's the dignity in that?

George Manuel--the legendary First Nations organizer in Canada--once remarked, "Assimilation is annihilation." We could apply this principle to the embracing of diversity in the collective hope process, now endangered by institutional malign neglect worldwide.

Unless we make room for and nurture all the creative energy now dissipated by conventional philanthropy, and routinely crushed by state and market misanthropy, we will soon find ourselves living in a quintessentially anti-social society. Maybe we're already there.


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