Friday, December 11, 2015

Taking a stance Value 5: Treating people like survivors

People need support, not pity.

Patients with terminal conditions, people in accidents, mental health patients and people who have been sexually assaulted are all survivors.

Treat them as such.

Too often we see people who have the best intention to help yet go down the line of pity. To a survivor, it’s a challenge to be thankful. Some can be gracious but to others, this stings. It feels patronizing or demeaning.

Still, this is a better option than what other people give.

When a person is diagnosed with a terminal condition, has a catastrophic accident, a mental breakdown or are sexually assaulted, you’d think people across the board would show compassion and support. Yet in many cases there is revulsion and these people are shamed and treated as if they’re tainted. Think about that, it’s not enough that this person must endure this, now they get to enjoy the wonders of being judged and shunned.

What does that say to you about people? That someone with these situations is almost shooed away.

Mom survived cancer while dad wasn’t as lucky. People showed support and didn’t judge. That’s not the case always. I’ve met people who when they shared the news with their family, they suddenly became the hot potato, i.e. let’s see who gets stuck with this burden. That’s actually exactly how one cancer patient I know described it.

With survivors of sexual assaults, it can be even worse. No one would wish to be sexually assaulted. Everyone can agree this is a heinous event in anyone’s life. Yet the amount of shaming that goes to survivors is alarming and I have a hard time to even begin to try to comprehend so I won’t.

Someone who has been sexually assaulted can still be beautiful and handsome. They are not tainted and treating them like lepers is as unjust and inhuman as I think it can get.

Unfortunately, shaming is a common thing or just judging. In our lack of empathy we treat these people as person + situation. The moment we look past someone’s circumstances, that’s when we give our best, which is what we should give and what we’d like to receive.

If you know someone who is a survivor, take your hat off to them and recognize that they were thrown to the fire and are still here, which makes them a spectacular human and someone you can learn from so much.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

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