As we evolve towards communities that celebrate and love people in their weakness, Vanier suggests that fear is the primary barrier that prevents us from moving from exclusion to inclusion.  Though a community must practice exclusion from time to time, in order to create separation, protect its members, and build in-group dynamics, communities must be constantly weary of closing themselves off and refusing becoming open to change and new understanding.

Fear is at the root of exclusion, while trust is the root of inclusion.  The primary driver of fear comes from a multitude of sources.  We fear change, instead holding onto stability and the way things have always been.  We fear disagreement, rejection, and arguments with others, because we are afraid of seeing things through the eyes of others.  We fear failure, because we have not accepted our own limitations.  We fear the poor, the disabled, and others who have been disadvantaged, because when we engage with Lazaruses of the world, we are afraid our hearts will be touched and we will be called into the messy compassion of relationships, recognizing that they are not as different as we are.  If we understand the way these fears hold us back, we must open our hearts to accept, forgive, and understand the unique creation of each individual.  Only when we recognize that our own worth comes intrinsically, and not from any sort of achievement, will we be able to recognize our common humanity and emerge from feelings of superiority and prejudice.

The way of the heart does not seek control, but seeks liberation in others.  When we allow our heart to lead us into simple relationships, with laughter and fun, we create open spaces that allow the uniqueness of each person to emerge. When we focus on living in the present and accepting the broken, we can lay aside the acts of aggression and power.  As we lay aside our prejudices, we can begin to speak with tenderness and call forth what is most beautiful in each other.

The path to freedom involves laying aside our compulsive need to succeed, to have power, and be praised.  Unfortunately, these compulsions have become very addictive powers that have built up over a lifetime of society’s influence on us.  To find freedom, we must find a way to lay aside our past hurts and the fears that cut us off from other people.  We must put to death the false self, learning to accept our true self.  However, we cannot do this without trust and forgiveness.  We must learn to forgive ourselves and others for the cycle to end.  Only true reconciliation with our past hurts, abusers, and  those we dislike will liberate us, because we must establish a common humanity.

Forgiveness can only occur when we recognize our common humanity, lose the shackles of hierarchy and power, believe that redemption and change are possible, and yearn for unity and peace.  When we practice forgiveness, we can remove our masks, and see ourselves and others as we were created, in the imago Dei.