Recently I was the guest speaker at an event. Besides the standard questions any Writer/Author is asked, my main topic of discussion was on the following. Of course this is a shortened version of my address, but for this purpose it makes the point. Everyone should read and share or retweet this because it is reality, and there is a very important lesson here to be learned.
We Fear What We Don’t Understand
Let me share a story. A mentally challenged young man was shopping in the store. We have all seen these individuals. They may walk differently, their movements aren’t as coordinated, and their speech is usually not the same flowing speech as ours. A man was in the same aisle and watched as people would start down the aisle, than turn around. Those that passed the young man did so like they were walking around an open manhole cover looking like if they bumped into him, they would catch whatever he had.
Why is this, he is just a person like anyone one else. God has a way a making things come to a balance. If you ever worked with these individuals you would find where their medical condition has left them with a deficit, many of their other senses may be far better tuned than ours. Why do people fear these people so? In some cases they simply don’t know what to do, or to say, and are afraid they will stare. Some people think they are freaks and should not be in society. Some may not want their children to see them because in their eyes, this is not normal. Maybe someone should give me what the real definition of normal is. Not the dictionary one, because sadly, that one does not apply to real life.
The issue here is we fear what we don’t understand. Or what we don’t want to understand. As this story goes, the man witnessed the young man having trouble organizing things in his cart, and having trouble reaching an item on the shelf. By now I am sure you can see that this person must have felt quite alone. The man went up to him and offered to help him, which the young man initially said thank you but I think I can do this. It was clearly evident he could not, but felt the need to try. Having a disability does not mean that people still don’t feel the need to try. To feel like they are like everyone else. They are, people make them feel different out of fear and non-acceptance. Is it possible that all they need is a chance?
The man who was watching did not leave him, and in a very short time managed to HELP him, not do it for him, To wrap up this story, it ended where the gentleman who helped him, and the young man, walked around the store and did their shopping together. If you were to ask that man about the experience, he would tell you he had the most interesting conversation with this young man and enjoyed the experience. I would venture to say this man did not have of fear of something he did not understand. He may not have totally understood the condition, but did not fear it.
So what’s the moral of this story? The only way to relieve yourself of a fear is to face that fear. See it for what it is, learn and understand it. Once you do, you will no longer fear it. Now I will admit that this concept is a general principle and some fears may be so intense that this concept needs to be handled in a different way, or be modified. But the principle stills applies. In some cases, depending on the fear, if not handles properly it may make it much worse. For example, you don't take who can't swim, and has a fear of the water to a pool and just throw them in. But in this case, this type of a fear is one that does not fit neatly into that generalized package. This is a fear of acceptance. The type of fear that one thinks if you ignore it, it will go away. We live in a society of people that because of medical technology , we have the means and succeeded in making many of these disabled people much more functional, and able to live a more independent life. Do not fear this when you see it. Embrace it and you just may find that you to will have a rewarding experience.
Oh, and by the way, I was the man who spend a couple of hours shopping with this brave young man. …. Caesar Rondina