It all depends on where you are…

I’ve noticed an unusual phenomenon lately.  The temperatures have been in the high twenties, with the humidex in the low thirties, yet I’ve seen an unnerving number of people wearing jackets.  Two days ago, I saw a man mowing his lawn with a bomber jacket on… and not only on but completely zipped up!  Then this afternoon, in less than a thirty minute span of time, I passed by at least seven people wearing jackets.  Three of the guys were in one group, leaving me to briefly wonder if I was the one improperly dressed for the weather!

Several years ago, Sesame Street demonstrated how perception of something depends on our proximity to it, using an elephant as an example.  NEAR………. far.  The slogan was “it all depends on where you are”.

I’ve come to conclusion that this slogan can be applied to life.  Or to wearing jackets in sweltering heat.  Or to wearing shorts in the freezing cold.

You get my point.

Everyone is at a different place in life, and so their perceptions tend to vary.  It’s easy for us to decide that our way is the right way or the best way or the only way but the reality is we’re not always right.  And, even if we are right, the other person or people might not see it the same way because they’re not in the same place.  It all depends on where they are.  Just like it all depends on where we are.

The answer isn’t to force anything on anyone else.  The world would be a much better place if everyone voiced their opinions or convictions without judgement, hatred, or ridicule.   It’s the least we can do for others because it’s the least we hope for ourselves.

It’s ok to respectfully explain our viewpoint but that’s where it needs to end.  Sometimes the most effective way to get our point across is to do more and say less.  With the more important things in life, hopefully others will take notice and see that we’ve put our money where our mouth is (in a manner of speaking…).  But, with the less important things in life – like wearing jackets in sweltering heat – maybe we’ll realize that it’s ok to be different.  That there’s no right way or wrong way.

After all, at any moment the winds of change could blow, and we might be tempted to put a jacket on after all.

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Let’s focus on the ‘ability’ of others and not on their ‘dis’…

I work for a not-for-profit organization that helps developmentally disabled people get where they want to go from where they are.   My job is to walk beside the people I support to help them accomplish their dreams.  The sky is the limit.

The most important aspect of what we do is to focus on total inclusion of the people we support, whether it be in a social environment or in a work environment.  We give them the support, tools, and opportunities to help them succeed in an ‘able’ focused world. Part of that support is by modelling the way disabled people should be treated, and that’s exactly the way everyone else is treated.  Everyone deserves to be included, to be valued, to be respected, and to have the chance to reach their hopes and dreams.  The problem is that, for far too long, the focus has been on the ‘dis’ and not on the ‘ability’.  But, no matter how severe the disability, there is always ability.

As a society, we’ve decided which disabilities are acceptable and which are not.  But, when you stop to think about it, most of us have a disability of one sort or another.  It could be vision problems, hearing loss, migraines, asthma, back problems, arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, or a stutter, to name a few.  For that matter, at any given moment, any one of us could become disabled in a car crash or diving accident or through a stroke, chronic illness or terminal illness.  So, it seems to me that we should put aside our prejudices and preconceived ideas, and just treat everyone the way we would want to be treated ourselves.  The world would be a much better place if we would all commit to focusing on the ‘ability’ of others and not on their ‘dis’.