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So many times, I sit back and watch the news and I hear and see horrible things and it simply breaks my heart. The news is filled with so many stories of blatant disrespect, disregard and misunderstanding. I also see stories of misrepresentation in the disabled community. I never thought that in 2017, that I would see so many people get treated less than or like we’re a pity project. I can’t speak for the entire disability community, but this is my view. We’re not *all* looking for a cure (some are and that’s okay). We’re looking for compassion. We’re not looking for your pity. We’re looking for acceptance. We’re not looking for sympathy. We’re looking for empathy. At the end of the day, we ALL want to be loved and accepted like everyone else. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again… Sometimes, we spend so much time focusing on our differences that we forget to appreciate our similarities. I accepted myself and my life circumstances a long time ago. Now, I’m just waiting for the world to do the same. I don’t feel like I should have to accept being treated differently or poorly or be excluded from something just because the other person or the place just doesn’t “get it” and won’t take the time to learn and adapt in a positive way (like I’ve had to do my entire life). We don’t truly benefit from exclusion. We benefit from inclusion, acceptance and positive change. We need to start learning how to co-exist with each other in a more productive, loving way. We need to learn that being different (on any level) is okay. We need to learn some compassion. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to have different beliefs and backgrounds. It’s not okay to be hate-mongering solely bases on the fact that we don’t understand something or haven’t taken the time to understand what might be on the other side of the fence. We all face challenges. Unfortunately, we sometimes face those alone. My challenge to each of you today is to get out of your comfort zone. Take time to understand the other side without immediately jumping to anger before understanding. Try to understand something that you don’t fully comprehend by truly listening to someone that DOES understand. If you can’t understand where they’re coming from, at least try to show some compassion for the fact that they face a challenge. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but please don’t form judgement if you’re the one that doesn’t understand. This world can be such a beautiful place. We need to learn that part of the beauty comes from unity and our differences. It comes from the common goal of each of us wanting a better tomorrow. Most importantly, we need to understand and unite with one another!

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