Monday, February 6, 2012

Fear Not Fear

Ignorance.  According to the Merriam-Webster (M-W) dictionary, this means: “lack of knowledge, education, or awareness.”

Lack of knowledge.  Knowledge is defined as “the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association.”  Many people’s ignorance around individuals with developmental disabilities usually has to do with their lack of familiarity through previous experience or association.  M-W further defines knowledge as “the range of one's information or understanding” which implies one has the facts, not presumed information. Presumed “knowledge” is based in cultural and social mindsets carried from generation to generation, often created out of ignorance.
Lack of Education.  Education is “the action or process of educating or of being educated.”  Most people take not the time or make not the effort to educate themselves on the facts, circumstances, or conditions of a situation, a thing or a person.  Blindly trusting what is taught from “socially acceptable” authorities such as parents, grandparents, the media, teachers, and socially defined “norms” holds a person hostage within one’s ignorance.

Lack of Awareness.  The definition of the word “aware” is as follows:  having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge.”  Awareness is the state of realization, perception or knowledge.  Without knowledge, awareness cannot exist.  Without awareness, one cannot realize, know or perceive there is another way of looking at things, missing information, or ignorance.
Here is some basic knowledge with which we all can unconditionally co-exist in acceptance, greater awareness and understanding:

Individuals with developmental disabilities are like you and me – creations of God, created by God. They are unique individuals like you and me.  Just as some of us humans are fat some of us are thin; tall and short; pale-skinned or dark-skinned; male or female.  Physically, we all have a body, a physical vessel in which to travel, to function within this God-given life, that’s unique to each of us.  Mentally, we are equipped with a brain wired for learning: some of us learn things easier than others, in different ways, and some of us are dealt with circumstances at the start of life that limits our educational opportunities, our mental capacity to learn.  Emotionally, we all are wired to experience feelings, and different ways in which to express those feelings verbally or physically; repressing them or wearing them on our sleeves; denying them or over-expressing them.  Spiritually, we are children of God, created with a soul that connects us to our Creator.
Ignorance is the cause of discrimination.  Ignorance is reflected in our thoughts and prejudiced beliefs; rooted in our own fears and insecurities; sustained in our choice to remain uneducated, unfamiliar and unaware.  No matter whom it is we discriminate against, we demonstrate our ignorance.  We subject upon them the influence of our own inner weakness of fear to gather more information, ask more questions, and exert more effort in understanding.  We function in ignorance based on a generational history of what our family, culture and society has taught us through actions, words and beliefs.

Knowledge empowers. Familiarity lessens fear.  Awareness opens us to countless viewpoints to facilitate compassion, sensitivity, even respectfulness.  Fear holds us hostage in our ignorance.
In the Next Blog Entry:  They Ruint my Breakfast - “. . . when talking to an acquaintance about what I do, he proceeded to tell me “some of those people ruint his breakfast” one morning while dining at a local restaurant . . . “

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“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
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