I was recently having a conversation with a comedian friend of mine, Nemr (nemrcomedy.com), after one of his shows this past weekend and we were talking about differences and similarities in our upbringing and backgrounds. He is an Arabic Christian from the country of Lebanon… and although our cultural backgrounds are different, we very much have common ground. It hadn’t occurred to him, but as a disabled female, to some degree, I am an outsider in many circumstances myself. I get disrespectful comments. I deal with a lack of understanding and compassion for circumstances that are beyond my control. My conversation with him got me thinking… We (as a society) spend so much time concentrating on our differences and pulling each other apart for being different (in whatever way), that we forget to treat each other with compassion. We fail to take the time to understand each other and our different backgrounds. Instead of embracing what we don’t understand, we avoid it. We will never grow in a positive direction as a society if we shy away from compassion and understanding.
During one portion of his comedy show, Nemr mentions that hate is more powerful than love, and it hit me that he’s absolutely right and I’m saddened by this. We should never, ever let fear, hate or misconceptions keep us from doing what we love, from standing up for what is right, treating others with respect and creating a world that is safer… not only for our generation, but for future generations. As a disabled female, I don’t necessarily face the racial hate or cultural misconceptions, but I very much face lack of compassion, lack of understanding and fear (in varying levels) on a daily basis every single time I choose to go out in public. “People with disabilities are victimized by crime at higher rates than the rest of the population”, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). I worry about whether I am vulnerable to assault. I worry about whether I will be able to participate in things to a certain degree because of lack of accessibility. I am constantly combating sarcastic comments or misconceptions from strangers on a daily basis. No, it’s not racial profiling or religious profiling, but it still feels like discrimination. It still feels hurtful, unfair and frustrating at times… but at the end of the day, I make a choice as to whether I let it hold me back or not. Whatever issue you are facing, you have a choice as to whether it defines you negatively or positively. You don’t have to let it keep you from letting your light SHINE. I choose to use it as a teaching tool for others and to help them understand my personal perspective of what is appropriate and inappropriate. We have to teach and lead by example. I don’t want to just be known for being the girl in the wheelchair with the pink wheels (although I embrace it when I can), but I want also to be remembered for how I treated people (in a good way). I want to be remembered as the person that supported others and cared enough to show up, learn about their lives and be known as someone they can count on. I want to be remembered for the things that I love, not the things I hate. I want to be remembered for the good that I brought into the world. I don’t mind being the “example”, as long as it’s a positive one. I never want to be thought of as “less than” or an inconvenience because someone had to take the time to accommodate me and it was somehow hindering their day. I like being the person that added something positive to someone else’s life. My wish is that others want to do the same… but we can’t do that fully if we spend too much time talking and not enough time listening and at least TRYING to understand. At the end of the day, we are all human. We all have insecurities. We are all unique, and we all have feelings. We need to embrace out differences, learn from them and learn to respect them. We all share this beautiful planet. Let’s spend time making it even more beautiful, instead of destroying it. We need to set a positive example for the next generation, so they can learn and know how to set a positive example for future generations.
This topic has honestly been on my heart for awhile, but I have been trying to find the right words, and seeing Nemr brought it full circle for me. Things needs to change. We need to start treating each other with more kindness and compassion. We are lacking it right now and things will never get better if we keep bringing each other down. As Ellen Degeneres says “Be kind to one another”. If we don’t, things will only continue to get worse. We will spend so much negative energy on the bad things, instead of concentrating on positive things and living a happier life and bringing positivity into the world. We weren’t designed for hate, but we have allowed it to take over. We were MEANT TO BE kind, loving and unique. The world would be pretty boring if we were all the same. Don’t lose sight of that. Show love and compassion. SHINE your light when you see darkness. Remind others that in the grand scheme of things, we were MEANT TO BE different, and then go embrace the differences.