When people are trying to create unity, they often end up hiding or excluding the people and things that do not ‘fit’. This kind of exclusion of people is often at the heart of sin and certainly at the heart of conflict. It is not what God wants.
In the Bible we see God’s people commanded to welcome the alien and stranger in the land (Leviticus 19:34; Deuteronomy 10:17–19), and Jesus reminding his listeners that everyone is their neighbour (Luke 10:25–37). Jesus himself was a man who was identifiably Jewish but had a mission of inclusion – both of those Jews who had been excluded under Jewish law, and of the Gentiles – into the kingdom of God.
Listen to René August talk about the way that God’s story always seems to point to inclusion.
It is important for peacebuilders to think about diversity and inclusion, because peacebuilding must deal with differences between people while treating all the people involved equitably and with the dignity they deserve. A part of the peacebuilding process is the recognition that we have not always treated each other as equal before God, and the willingness to make amends.
It is also important that peacebuilders recognise people’s differences and diversity as well as their equality, and do not assume that equality necessarily means that we must ‘treat everyone alike’.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, reminds us that all humans come from different backgrounds and have different experiences during their lives. If peace is to be lasting, the process of building it must take this into account. Making space for others as different-and-equal within the kingdom demands some concession and change from all of those involved.