We’re all different, somehow

It’s frustrating to read the language used by individuals describing residents of Ferguson. It extends further than that, even when “different” individuals attempt to do good, the language remains consistent and the result usually remains the same — discrimination.

When discrimination comes to mind, it’s usually focused on racial issues in America. Though over the past decade or so, discrimination towards women has increasingly garnered attention again. But then there are other issues regarding unalterable individual characteristics; sexuality, color, national origin and disabilities whether physical or mental — possibly even emotional. The discussion may even extend into personal choices in a limited manner; modes of transportation, living accommodations, or career choices.

During my lifetime, I have learned much by talking, reading and observation simply based on the desire to grow. Though I never learned as much about the differences between individuals as I have during my relationship with my wife. I am a healthy, straight, nearing middle age, white male who doesn’t really have any roadblocks in my way. It’s a legitimate statement to make that I am “privileged.”

I have not experienced discrimination directed towards me, likely never will. But regardless how much I talk to people, when they express frustrating situations involving discrimination they have endured, nothing matches the conversation when the event just occurred. I have experienced many moments like this where she has faced real discrimination, just by being deaf.

Discrimination causes real pain. Pain that, at it’s very core, is disturbing, exhausting and makes the struggle to hold on that much harder by chipping away at a person’s well-being, little by little.

The individual committing the act of discrimination likely doesn’t know their impact, the end result, which is why they continue to do so unscathed. What if they actually do though? That the pain they inflict empowers them in a perverted way, to believe they’re right and should continue?

If you view others as stereotypes first and individuals second, it’s time for you to reconsider your approach. Step away from how you typically process interactions, think about how your actions and words impact others, review what society has told you to perceive. I’m not asking anybody to become vulnerable, but if you’re going to utilize a defensive approach to anybody, apply it to all not just particular demographics.

In the end, we all must learn to display compassion. I have always cared about other people, though I never knew what it truly meant or how to describe it. Maybe that’s why I was able to accept the fact that my wife is deaf — she is still an individual, a human being.

That’s what we lack though, compassion for others. Discover a route that allows you to exhibit this trait and allow it to grow and progress to strengthen others while strengthening your own foundation.

Let’s enable, not disable, others.

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