Cultures and People are complicated. This isn’t hard to recognize when there are entire studies of science focused on this subject. We are really hard to understand. Thanks to several factors we are also widely diverse. Humans have entire spectrums of different traits, beliefs, and personalities. This, sadly, ends up driving conflict and also driving people apart, sometimes creating rifts that are difficult to mend.
For a long time, I have been putting off the idea of writing an article on diversity in roleplaying games. This was not because I didn’t believe it was a necessary topic. In fact, I believe the exact opposite. I believe this is a topic that we absolutely must tackle, and possibly one of the most important topics of our time. I resisted writing this because I am a straight white male. I did not feel as if I had anything to offer that people would want to hear. Then, while at GenCon 2018, I miraculously found myself sitting on a panel specifically about diversity in roleplaying games. So, guess I can’t use that excuse anymore.
Before I dive too far into some of the nuances and directions that I believe we should be taking with diversity, I feel it necessary to clear up some terminology. Because the fact of the matter is, diversity is a core feature of role playing games with character customization. The fact that you can change features and traits of your character is exactly what diversity is, a range of different things in this case features and traits. There is a keyword in all that: range. For anyone who has taken a math class ever will know that ranges come in different sizes. So, when people are asking for more diversity in games, they are asking for a wider range of options. Funnily enough, this is what inclusion is all about. So to keep things simple when I talk about diversity and inclusion, I will more or less be using them interchangeably.
Diversity at Your Table
A hard fact for some to swallow is that what you do at your table is between everyone who shows up at that table. What topics you choose to tackle, how inclusive you want to be, all of it is entirely up to you. However, if you like being a decent person, you will need to be more aware of the differences that people have, especially of those you have at your table. If you never play for more than your super exclusive club of individuals, feel free to ignore anything I say. I don’t play at your table.
It is said that there is no cure for stupidity, and that is 100% wrong. The cure for stupidity is education. A year ago I had only a notion of understanding about the LGBT+ community. It wasn’t until it started to become a much more relevant topic in my life (the slow accumulation of LGBT+ friends) that I actually started working harder to understand it. I have done everything I can to try to get terms right and change my own habits. And yes, I have messed up. I do it even today sometimes with pronouns. It’s not that I don’t respect them, it's that what I was raised with and what is correct were not exactly the same. I have to make an effort to change the pre-existing assumptions that come without thinking. I have to change my habits. I have had a great group to help educate me on these subjects, if you want to learn more feel free to reach out to Nerdolopedia and ask questions. There are some truly inspiring and understanding people that are within this group.
Now, this does not excuse me from getting things incorrect. It's my duty as a community member to work at getting this right and learn for future encounters. It is also the duty of every community member to educate its members in the correct terminology; open communications before jumping to conclusions. Not everyone is getting it wrong on purpose. It can be easy to let emotions lose and get angry, I’ve done it myself. People have been hurt over this stuff, and some emotions are inevitable but speaking with emotion is not always the right path to bettering a situation. Sometimes just stating the correction can lead to more clarity and less conflict than attacking with emotion.
The Public Table
The moment you start to stream, record, or run a game for the general public, say like at a convention or on twitch, you cannot ignore being inclusive at your table. You have no idea who is going to be sitting down and consuming the game that you are playing. At a convention, you might get people of very different walks of life, and being exclusive can cause people to walk away from the table and possibly ruin the experience for everyone.
With streams, YouTube, and podcasts your game will also contribute to the pool of media that people consume throughout their lives. The messages and characters you have will speak volumes to your opinions on diversity and inclusion. For both good and ill, media has a huge impact on our society as a whole. For a positive example, we can look to the show Star Trek. While science fiction has always pushed us to great heights of inspiration, Star Trek brought much of it to the public eye. Without Star Trek much of the direction of modern technology wouldn’t be quite the same, or if it was it would be inspired by something else. The “flip phone” and the push of wireless technology is one way in which it impacted our society. There are so many other examples of how media influences society that several courses could be made on the topic.
Change is not instant. Societies usually take time to fully adopt changes to the status quo. By more individuals adopting and representing ideals that they hold, the more commonplace it becomes. Over time, this becomes the new status quo, the change has been normalized. This is why active support from public figures is so important for different movements, it validates the movement and pushes it towards being the norm.
Why Diversity is Good
Up until this point, you might have noticed my severe lack of taking a stance on the topic of diversity. To give you a more concrete answer, I believe that far more diversity in our games creates a lot of good. At the same time, I believe that the diversity we include has to be believable to the situation and used with a subtle hand in order to highlight the amazing differences that exist. Too little diversity and everything is flat, too much diversity and the things that make individuals special starts to lose their meaning. This isn’t to say that I think certain groups need to be excluded; just that consideration needs to be made with how you use it.
In nature, having a wide variety of genes is actually super beneficial. Mutations in genes start to create specializations, sometimes even branching out into different niches. This is natural selection where species with traits unsuited to the environment die off and those with traits suited to the environment survive and pass on their genes. This is NOT “survival of the fittest” but actually just “survival of the fit”, all groups of species fit to survive do so and continue the cycle.
“Okay Jake, what the hell? We were talking about diversity and now you start going into crazy stuff about evolution, and I know this leads to some incredibly racist stuff!” Well, no actually. The last part of my previous paragraph should point out where I’m going. The basis of this is that all species that manage to survive do. They are not superior in any way to each other, just are just suited to their particular niches. This is why I love human beings. We have managed to evolve in different locations and environments all over our world. Our bodies have adapted to the various climates our ancestors lived in. This is also where our fantasy races come in. Those racial abilities and traits you see are supposed to be a model for this. Elves developed better eyesight and are more dexterous while Dwarves are stronger and resistant to being poisoned (thanks to alcohol). The differences that developed in these fantasy races are not reason to be separated but instead embraced. After all, who knows when an adventure will require a tightrope walk or a drinking contest. Just like having people of various skills and knowledge is beneficial for any real world team, diversity allows for adaptability to challenges. It’s the same reason the Dwarves in “The Hobbit” came to hire Bilbo. They needed someone stealthier than a Dwarf could be.
What about variations in personalities, sexual orientation, gender (not sex, and yes they are different), and disabilities, why are these good to include? Well, because in the real world these are variations that exist. Not including variations in these things will actually make your world feel less real, and not in a good way. If you had a fantasy world where everyone had the same personality then it's not going to feel like a real place. We are captivated by fantasy realms that feel real. Increasing the diversity within these spaces will increase the depth of how real it is and therefore increase engagement. Anything that increases engagement in entertainment is almost always a good thing. As a Dungeon Master, I actually have tables for nearly all of the variations in personality, gender, and sexual orientation (yes I know I’m missing disabilities, but I’ll get to that later). I can pick and choose which ones I want if I think one will fit better with a character, but when making up characters on the fly a table for these things are great. Especially so when the player’s inevitably try to seduce the NPC, you want to know if they are even going be into that sort of thing.
Races, Ethnicities, and Cultures
Upon first writing this section, I got into learning some ideas I didn’t know existed. I had started by going into some definitions and doing my normal thing of elaborating from there. That works, assuming that my definitions are correct. The debate on what the definition of race is and isn’t in our society is a topic I simply am not equipped to properly address. It requires far more attention than the two weeks of study that I have to write this article on top of a seperate full-time job. For the purposes of this article and because of how many tabletop games refer to them, I will be using the term race to define what is scientifically called a species. So Humans is a race. So are Elves. All this is categorizing is the general physical characteristics that make up that race. For example Elves have a longer lifespan than Dwarves, but Dwarves have resistance to being poisoned.
Using this terminology when people are asking for diversity at the table they are not just asking to include different races, they are asking to including ethnicities. See on planet Earth we have a wide range of ethnicities, this should be obvious if you have ever picked up a history textbook or watched the news. Yeah people are happy to see people play more than just humans, but most of the time they don’t want to see an entire cast of pale skinned folk. Representation is important, especially in a culture that has a history of marginalizing people because of the ethnic group they belong to. In my opinion ethnicity shouldn’t be given mechanical benefits, as this then starts to bring the discussion of balance into the mix. Let’s face it, no system is perfectly balanced. So making different ethnicities a mechanical change just opens an even worse can of worms.
I don’t want to, however, mix ethnicity and culture. Ethnicity is part of your ancestry, often tied to a geographic location, language, shared history, or shared culture. However culture is just the social norms of a group of people. Cultures can also overlap. For example you can be a part of the “American” culture but also show differences within it. For example people in the Midwest have a difference in culture than those in the Pacific Northwest. Within each of those are a wide array of different ethnicities.
To date, I can’t think of any roleplaying game that gets race and culture right. D&D, in my opinion, does not get enough into the cultures. The background mechanic (which is shockingly forgotten quite often) is the closest D&D has, but it only offers more of the profession rather than the overarching culture that person is from. Which makes sense when you notice that while D&D does have a setting, it’s actually an amorphous setting. It’s not a totally generic setting as there is difficulty running a modern superhero story using D&D but it can be fudged if needed. How this system fails is language. Why wouldn’t an Elf being raised in a Dragonborn society not have a chance to learn Draconic?
Meanwhile, on the other spectrum is the Lord of the Rings RPG which includes zero races and only cultures. This surprised me at first considering that Lord of the Rings for certain has unique races. It assumes that if you are in a specific culture that you are of a specific race. That works just fine for Tolkien’s world of everyone staying in their own homes and being completely xenophobic, but only for that setting. The only way I can see race and culture being properly represented is by using a roleplaying game system that is used for one setting. At the time of writing I haven’t found one so please feel free to leave a comment or message me if you know of a system that tackles this problem better than the two I have listed here.
A case could be made to cut out mechanics for them entirely and have every race and culture work exactly the same. In some cases this works, however for some narratives this completely kills the reality of coming from different backgrounds. If you have carved stone all your life because you live underground with dwarves, then having that bonus to stone identification when it finally comes up is really rewarding.
I respect Tolkien for his contributions to Fantasy, however I also cannot help but dislike some of the themes that come from his stories. Before the hardcore Tolkien fan’s rip on me, I know that his world is very in depth, but a lot of the surface elements of his work have permeated into the public mind especially with the movies. My least favorite thing about the Lord of the Rings has largely been how little diversity is shown in the cultures that are explored throughout the movies (and maybe books, I’m only halfway through). Elven cities have elves, Dwarven cities have dwarves, and Human cities have humans, period. In almost none of the scenes do they show elves living among humans, or human bones along with the dwarven bones, it’s all very distant. In a world where all these people exist is this to say that no one ever moved anywhere and that everyone is so isolationist that they kick out anyone who isn’t of their race? If that is the case, then I’m not sure I believe Middle-Earth could even remotely exist even if all the magic and different races did exist.
People travel. We have to in order to survive, but sometimes we travel because we like to. Sometimes we do it because we go to war, or our own country is at war. I’m going to demonstrate this with a fairly simplified example. Let's assume we have two nations: the Human Empire, and the Elven Republic. Let’s assume that the Human Empire, at the start of this example is 100% comprised of humans, and that the Elven Republic is 100% comprised of elves. We will assume this for simplicity sake using the idea that the area of these two nations have the climate and habitat suited for these two distinct peoples.
Now, let’s assume that the Human Empire gets attacked by a third nation that we will call Orcadia. Let’s assume they are 100% comprised of Orcs.
When Orcadia attacks the Human Empire, some of its people may flee. Some to other parts of its own empire, some to the neighboring Elven Republic. The amount of people who can enter the Elven Republic depends on how accepting the Elven Republic is of refugees and the Elven Republics ability to keep out those people if they don’t want them. For the sake of the example, we will assume they are indifferent to begin with.
With this one event people have already moved. The Elven Republic is no longer 100% Elves. At the same time, the war between Orcadia and the Human Empire stops. Either Orcadia is driven away or a peace treaty was made. Some of the invading forces may abandon their previously stated home. Maybe some Orcs switched sides to help the Humans in their fight, or decided that they liked the new country and instead chose to move to it. Now the Human Empire is not 100% humans either. This is all from just one event.
The now displaced people who have chosen to stay where they are, maybe because a generation has passed since the war, want the comforts from their old home. For this, let’s say they want potatoes (because potatoes are amazing and you can’t change my mind). To get them they start to trade. Merchant’s travel between borders to deliver potatoes from their homelands. While they are there they sell potatoes to the other inhabitants of the land, getting Elves interested in their potatoes. Then more traders begin to go between the nations, some deciding they like the other nation more than the nation they currently call home so they move. Maybe they move because they see a chance for a better life than their previous home.
Over long periods of time various outside influences causes people to move from their original homes. Maybe some humans in the Elven Republic get better trained with bows, while humans and elves mate creating half-elves. Having a Human raised in a once predominantly Elven nation will still retain their biological traits of being Human, but adopt different skills and maybe even some personality traits from the Elven culture.
And now, back to complaining about Tolkien. My reasoning for why I think the races are so segregated being so unrealistic is because of the above model. While its simplified, the fact that in Middle-Earth some trade and even wars being shared somehow resulted in no mingling of the human and elven nations. In their fight against the Dark Lord, after they won they put down their weapons, went their separate ways, and continued to be completely separated societies. The only place showcased to have any amount of mingling was in Bree with both hobbits and humans living together. With the elves however no such thing occurred, with the exception of maybe Elrond letting some people chill at his place for a little while.
However, I do have to give Tolkien some credit, and that is the resistance of travel. Some people in Middle-Earth had never seen a Hobbit before or had only heard of them. While I think this is extreme, this does hold some merit. Going back to our “nations” example, let’s rewind time to when Orcadia invaded the Human Empire. Let’s assume we have one more nation, Dwarftopia, that is 100% Dwarven and it is on the far side of the Elven Republic. During the invasion a majority of the people leaving the Human Empire would flee to the Elven Republic. However, some might not stop, some might keep going until they hit Dwarftopia. Just like earlier, the actual rate in which people enter Dwarftopia is based on how isolationist they are and how well they can actually keep people out. Let’s assume that they are stubborn and don’t want any refugees. Since the distance to get to Dwarftopia is so much further it is unlikely that anyone would actually be able to enter as Dwarftopia only has to keep out a handful of people.
Fast forward again to when the populations of the Elven Republic and the Human Empire are now more mingled. As the distance of people traveling becomes shorter, it becomes easier for people to get where they want to go. Let’s assume a potato famine hits the Elven Republic and people start trying to leave. With the potato famine also hitting the Human Empire, the Elven Republic has nowhere to go but Dwarftopia to avoid the famine. Now Dwarftopia is going to have a much harder time keeping out all the people trying to enter their nation.
The resistance of travel is not only determined by distance, but also the environment. An ocean between two nations has a huge resistance when transoceanic travel has not been invented. Technology will inevitably decrease this resistance making it easier for people to travel through areas that were far more difficult. Even just inventing the wheel will reduce this resistance. Maybe I can’t complain too much about Middle-Earth without knowing every detail about it, but at least it gave us something to talk about.
It’s Not Just People That Move
In my examples up until this point I have only been really using different races to define how populations become diverse even if natural selection made them start less diverse. In reality, my example was far more on the extreme side, but it was done so to simulate very specific ideas and how people get intermingled. Populations start out far more diverse and it’s not until you get into a small group that you really start to see isolated ideas like the Human Empire or Elven Republic were representing. It also was not meant to be just about races. You could swap out races for culture, cuisines, technologies, religions, etc. When people move so do their ideas and ways of life. The more accepting other cultures are of the traveling ideas and people the more diverse they will become and as I pointed out earlier, diversity gives adaptability.
A real world example of how powerful accepting new ideas can be is seen with the Mongol Empire under the rule of Genghis Khan. Under his rule, instead of killing everyone he defeated, he gave them the opportunity to join them (assuming they weren’t leadership). He accepted them into his growing empire and allowed them religious freedoms. Controlling the Silk Road they gained access to a great number of ideas and technologies, giving those who passed through safety assuming they paid taxes. Now, it's a lot more complicated than this and a lot more nuance but it shows how giving people the freedom to be themselves can increase your own strength.
Disabilities in Roleplaying
Up to this point, I have primarily been talking about the inclusion of people of different races, personalities, and cultures. When I started out thinking on this topic that was what had been the focus of my attention. It was not until that panel at GenCon that an audience member asked about how we include disabilities in our games that I realized there was an entire area I had been neglecting. My instinct was to say “well when magical healing is a thing how would there be disabilities” but that answer is incredibly one dimensional and totally not true.
Magic requires resources, at least it does in D&D, and that means that even if it does exist there will be individuals out there that cannot afford to obtain those resources. Even in high magic societies, while the number of disabled people may be lower, that doesn’t mean it will be entirely gone. For any self respecting world builder, one has to take this into consideration. How much magic does your world have? What are its limits? How do these things affect those who cannot get the magic to just make their disabilities disappear? This, however, is just tackling how magic affects the disabled, physically or mentally. What about mundane solutions? While saving up for the magical solution to say be able to walk again, would it be easier to get an item that grants you other movement that will compensate for the disability. These are questions I have been tackling in a set of supplement rules I have been working on for some time. I will be talking more on this subject in some future articles.
So, how is it best to represent someone with a disability at our table. The best solution in my personal opinion is for a player to create a character with a disability. This allows the game to tackle the challenges of being a person with a disability. For a recent example, I played a character who was soul-bound to an awakened Raven. The pair were Raveneye and Domino, Domino being the Raven. They had a telepathic bond and so they could communicate with each other. However, I had written it so that Raveneye was completely mute. When Domino was around Raveneye could communicate to the party because Domino would say everything for Raveneye. On multiple occasions, however, Domino left the party to scout or find an individual, leaving Raveneye with the party unable to speak. This challenged me as a player to figure out how to properly communicate without using words and the interesting ways I took to the challenge. I also didn’t make it easier on me that I made Raveneye illiterate, so I literally could not spell out what he was trying to say.
Disabilities are beyond the physical body as well. Mental disabilities arguably impact people more heavily than physical ones. This should be represented in a way that is not all that different from how we represent physical disabilities, only the challenges to overcome are different and often can be more varied. Feel free to talk with your Game Master about possibly including mechanical elements based on certain triggers. An example of this is in Critical Role where Liam’s character, Caleb, has a form of PTSD. Whenever he kills something with fire Matt Mercer makes him make a saving throw to avoid triggering an episode. Do your research when choosing to include a mental disability as they are commonly misunderstood.
For DM’s, including characters who have a disability is another great way to give representation. The key is to not just make it a character quirk, but something that is a part of who they are. Make it be a part of their personal story, and if the party figures out a way to cure the character of their disability what impact does it have on the character? Bake ways society assists those with a disability directly into your world. In our everyday lives, we see handicap ramps and probably don’t even consciously think about why they are there, we just know. When we build up a world, we sometimes forget these minor details. Wouldn’t a house of healing have a ramp and railings? If a character is disabled how does that change their home, dungeon or otherwise?
People are not stereotypes. This means when we create characters that expand into the territories of diversification that we do not make them a walking stereotype. Gay men don't hit on any guy they see any more than straight men hit on every girl they see, they have tastes and sensibilities like everyone else. At the same time, you don’t want to just make them a carbon copy of everyone else. Different people have had different stories, and that needs to be taken into consideration in your world building and NPC creation. If you do voices, look up how to actually do the accents and not just go with the stereotype, doubly so if you plan on playing anyone with a mental disorder. Putting effort into the authenticity of people will make your work stand out and not just be a combination of every stereotype in the book, it will give depth and immersion into your world. This sensitivity is not because people are hypersensitive “snowflakes”, its because it is just plain respectful. If you mess something up, try harder and apologize if you did hurt someone’s feelings. If you don’t think they should be offended take a step back. It’s not up to you to decide if you made someone hurt or embarrassed especially when they’ve already gone out of their comfort zone to try and talk to you about it. This is a thing we call “caring about others”.
A Look into the Drow
You also need to take careful consideration when you put diverse people in your world and create cultures for them. What you choose can say a lot and sometimes have the wrong impact. When you are creating a society, race, etc. ask someone to read it over for sensitivity, otherwise you might end up with something like the drow. For those not familiar with the drow, they are the evil race of dark elves, with black skin and white hair.
Now, I love the Dungeons & Dragons team over at Wizards of the Coast, they are a truly sensitive and inclusive group of individuals who want to make their game accessible to everyone. However, they carry a lot of baggage from older editions and changes that have been made over the years. The drow are one of these pieces of baggage that I wish they would change. Yes, there are entire stories and many, many player characters that have made “good” drow, but those are deviations from the norm of the race. This poses some issues in my book, and for many others out there. Not only do I not like the implications of racism (which may or may not have been behind their creation because of their Mythology background to the Norse, it’s hard to tell without actually having been there or being inside the creators heads) but I also don’t like it from a scientific standpoint.
In the Forgotten Realms lore, the Drow were cursed and that is, apparently, where their dark skin comes from. I’m all for magically hand waving some things, but many of the other underground races also seem to have this dark skin (looking at the Deep Gnomes aka Svirfneblin). I have no issue with the explanation for how they got their dark skin, but that isn’t the case when it comes to every homebrewed world. Because D&D has so much of the lore of the Forgotten Realms baked into the system this leads to many worldbuilders just using the same lore as a part of a worldbuilding shortcut. While there are many factors in what color the skin becomes it is a result of melanin which is produced in the body to regulate the amounts of ultraviolet radiation penetrating the skin. To put it briefly, the more melanin you have in your skin the more resistant you are to ultraviolet radiation, and this developed in humans thanks largely to natural selection that I talked about earlier.
Now, the amount of melanin the body produces naturally is largely due to genetics, but with exposure to large sources of ultraviolet radiation our bodies will be triggered to produce it. The biggest source of ultraviolet radiation that we humans deal with every day is the sun. When you tan, that is your body producing more melanin causing a darker skin tone. In time, your body will begin to return to the normal levels of melanin in your system, but as you are exposed more and more to sunlight this level can stick around. Over generations those who are more exposed to locations with higher levels of ultraviolet radiation are going to start having darker skin tones.
This works in the opposite direction too. As generations go by that are exposed to less and less ultraviolet radiation the lighter their skin tones become. This means that a society of individuals who experience less sunlight will have lighter skin tones over generations. And where is there less sunlight than at the bottom of the ocean and underground? In reality, the Drow should be pale skinned. If you look at real world examples of underground or deep sea creatures, you will find an entire subset of them that have completely lost all pigment in their skin. While this would be unlikely for every underground race, since albinism is actually a genetic mutation that is fairly rare, the creatures that do have had a lot longer to multiply and have significantly more generations for albinism to become the norm and we already know that elves have a far lower rate of reproduction than humans do.
However, this is all fantasy and the extremes are way more fun to consider than the actual science behind it. In my world, I have actually rewritten my Drow to have lighter skin than the other elves from their lack of exposure to the sun. That also means that I changed the skin tone of two other elven subraces. I have both Sand and Sea elves in my world. For those, I have the Sand elves be the ones with the much darker skin tone as they tend to live in deserts and have a higher exposure to the sun. The Sea elves I have be tanned, more like the Polynesian people, as they are along coastlines and that shallow water can actually act as a magnification of the sun rather than a damper.
Not all of my issues are solved with this however. There is still that nasty aspect of the society being evil. Even changing the skin tone I am not out of the woods yet. Now, if you have read some of my previous articles you might be aware that I absolutely do not like the alignment system. In particular, I am not a fan of how the system pidgeon-holes people into a certain way of acting. That isn’t how people or societies work. Society is really freaking complicated. I have actually swapped out the Good and Evil aspects of my own creations for one I think is way more interesting, Creation and Destruction. Now, I still don’t assign players and races to these either. I mention them because it changes the view that different cultures have. Let’s take the Goblins for example. They are little green humanoids that we generally think of as evil. Are they actually evil? Or just incredibly destructive? Destruction doesn’t have to be inherently bad, in fact, some ancient societies saw it as a necessary part of the way the universe worked. It’s a theme that comes up in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Now, Goblin’s may be more destructive towards other peoples but to them that is not evil, and that is the reason why I don’t like the assumption of good and evil. Those concepts are actually incredibly subjective to the individual. What is good to the drow might be considered evil to another race. Good and Evil are labels we use liberally for concepts that are very deep and complex. Asking the question “what makes an act good?” leads to an entire topic in itself.
It is not normal for me to get into such detail when going over a topic for one of my articles. I prefer to keep things shorter and to the point. I could not do that for this topic. As I mentioned at the beginning, I believed that my voice would not would not be welcome or have impact. When I got deeper into learning about different communities, I learned that many people are scared to talk. I do not have that excuse. Being a straight, white, male I don’t have many things to be afraid of. The fact that others are afraid to speak out is saddening to me. I don’t see myself as an expert on this topic, in fact, I know there is so much more I have to learn. I have learned that my voice is just as important to put out there. I mentioned how this topic needs to be talked about so that it becomes the status quo. Which means that where I thought I was wrong to speak about it, that I felt like an outsider, was harmful thinking. We must all use our power to bring others to our level, to assist them when they need help, in order to be truly equal.
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