Who are you accidentally excluding?

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”.  I can’t recall the first time I was told this, and I bet you can’t either. Ingrained in us from grade school, we are taught to look beyond what we see, but we also learn that skim milk (sometimes) masquerades as cream. And yes, we all revert to presuming that what we see, or rather what we think we see,  is indeed, what we’ll get.
I walk around everyday making snap decisions and assessments about who or what someone is and isn’t..
We all do.
This is the principle of conditioning, which was first identified in animals, who are particularly susceptible to simple cues. For example turkey mothers will look after any animal that makes the right ‘cheep cheep’ noise, even a stuffed polecat (a predator)! But if you just take away the noise and the turkey will attack it. Similarly, a robin will attack a bunch of red feathers, but not a stuffed robin with no red. So, we all bump along with our conditioned ideas about what is and isn’t.
We forget that a person’s identity is simply the wrapping paper that covers them. You can’t get to know the value and the gifts inside if you don’t take the time to unwrap who they are.
You can’t know someone’s value if you don’t know them, and you can’t get to know them if you don’t value them. You’re in a catch 22.
Like likes like… but like also means we are alike and alike means we bring many of the same things to the table. Similar education, similar skills, similar tastes, similar.
Where we benefit immensely is from someone who brings what we don’t already have to the table. Something new.  Different. Or other.
We are proud, deeply so, of the diversity evident at NOVA every day.  Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire need Heart to summon Captain Planet and a box of rags comes together to make a coat of many colors. Out of many, one.
We recently attended Safe Zone Training at George Mason University.  Mason’s LBGTQ Office hosted and led a great seminar giving us lots of information and ideas on how we can continue to make NOVA a house of wellness for all people.  We cherish that everyone is so welcoming and people from all walks of life feel welcomed.
Community is a word that gets tossed around a lot. What we have at NOVA isn’t adequately described by the word community.
For me, the word is hospitality.
In Greek, hospitality (philoxenia) means “stranger love” or “love of strangers”. Figuratively, it means the readiness to share hospitality (generosity)  to strangers and I can’t think of a better way to describe how I see our members greet friends and strangers alike.  Every day. Always.
Thank you for being part of our crew of kind, inclusive, hospitality minded people.  CrossFit gives us a perpetual invitation to engage regardless of our age,  gender, sexuality, religion, race, country of origin, cognitive or physical abilities, language, socio-economic class, level of fitness, politics, education. I could go on and on.
Every one of you used to be a stranger to me and to each other. Thanks to the gifts of hospitality we make a family. Thank you for being part of this tremendous experience.

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