October is Down syndrome awareness month.
If you would like to read some run-of-the-mill facts about it, please click here.
If you would like to read my personal, in-depth experience as I learned about Down syndrome from Brady P, you can purchase a copy of my memoir, Digging for Light, here. (Use coupon code "friends" to save 30% on all items. All orders over $20 ship for free!).
But this is not a commercial, and I am not just trying to promote awareness about Down syndrome.
I am writing to you, right now, to promote love and acceptance for EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THIS PLANET!!!
Yes, people with Down syndrome are extraordinary. I've learned so much from my son that I would never trade my life before him (or life with an "ordinary" child) for my life now.
But do you know who else has great qualities?
Your best friend. The people in your family, even if you don't like them. The lady with funny glasses who walks through the cafeteria humming the same song everyday. People with skin of a different color who live across the globe. The guy driving the taxi cab who almost hit you this morning. The kids at the school near you.
Every single person on this planet has something good in them. Something worth nurturing because growing the good is better than growing the bad. And what we focus on is what we get.
Everybody is different, but everybody has a gift to share.
It's easy to see the good in people you already love. Not the people you might say you "hate." Hate is a strong word. Even though I have had some horrifying experiences with other people in the last couple years, I can still say that I don't "hate" the people who treated me that way. I don't even wish them ill will. I actually wish them the best! Because, dag nabbit, there is something good in them, or I never would have gotten involved in the fist place!
Don't think I am an instant angel. It took time, forgiveness, meditation, prayers, lots of journaling and buckets of tears to get to the point where I can honestly say that I wish those people the best. I just choose not to be around them. We have gone our separate ways, and I can breathe fully.
Okay. Your turn!
Think of someone you feel an extreme dislike towards.
- Maybe they harmed you or your family. That is unacceptable, but not a reason to hate them. They probably had a rough upbringing that they never got over, so they took it out on innocent people. It happens all the time. I'm not trying to minimize any hurt that you feel, but taking back your power and realizing that you are no longer a victim is going to help move things forward. I did it, too.
- Maybe the person you dislike has a position over you at work or in society, and they are always putting you down. That is also unacceptable behavior. So why would they do that? (You can call them names, but then you are using the same tactic as they are.) They are in a delusional position of authority which makes them think it's normal to feel separate from you or better than you. Somewhere they lost the importance of respect. That is not okay. You should never let someone treat you as less than the amazing person you are. How would you fix it? Tell them! Tell them you do not feel respected (and chances are that most other people around you feel the same way, so use that to your advantage!). And do it with respect to show them what is possible. If you lose your job/position because of it, then good. That gives you a chance to start over some place you are respected and appreciated. Your whole life will improve. I did this, too!
- Maybe you don't even personally know the person in real life. Perhaps you only see them on TV or the news. Well, then, how can you really hate them??? You don't even know them! Yes, they might make selfish decisions and say horrible things about other people, but why do they do that? How do they really feel about themself? Is it all for show? To pretend they're in control? Lack of their own self-esteem? What childhood scars do they need to work through? Perhaps they should do work on themself before they try to be a leader or a role model. I completely agree with that. But does hating them help? No!
Right now you either think I'm a wacko or that I have a really big, squishy heart. I'll let you decide. Either way, that doesn't change how I feel about you.
I will still send you love.
We all must send love.
Let me just stand on top of the pulpit here and throw my fists in the air when I shout this:
WE HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO LOVE AND BE KIND TO EVERYBODY!!!
Look at this world! How did we get into this mess???
We divided ourselves into groups. Us vs. them. But that's not the truth. We are all in this together. If one part of the earth goes under, we all go under! We are all on the same sphere floating and spinning through the galaxies!!! How can we separate ourselves from that fact???
Doing that is our greatest flaw. We simply have to change our mindset.
This will be easier for some people than others, but we have to try. Not just everyday but in every moment. It's a journey we all have to take, and it will take constant practice.
Not only do we need to love an accept ourselves for who we are and where we're at, we need to grow. We need to get through our own pain, so we can recognize other people's pain and show them compassion. Then they can grow and recognize somebody else's pain and show them compassion and on and on and on until we are able to put our own egos aside and realize that we all want to be loved and accepted.
When we get down to brass tacks, what else is there?
We are made from love, my friend, and love will sustain us. It is the only way we are going to save ourselves.
Now let me get off this soap box, and say, Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Because a little boy with Down syndrome taught me the meaning of life.
Brady P. says, "You're welcome!"