March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month and this year’s theme is “See me for me”. My first thought on seeing this was ‘Wow, what a universal dilemma. Isn’t that something that we can all relate to, that we have all dealt with in some way?’ In fact, this has been a human struggle since the 4th century BC. Aristotle once said:
“Friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them, and it is this mirroring that helps them improve themselves as persons.”
The first step to this, of course, is knowing who you are and being yourself. At Overture, that is the entire purpose of our person-centered approach. We encourage everyone we serve to be the person they want to be by making their own decisions and pursuing opportunities which are meaningful to them. If you don’t know who you are, how can anyone else?
The next step is not so obvious. It seems to me that by having a strong sense of self, it would project to others but that is often not the case. Because another human struggle that has existed just as long is that of prejudice. During Hercules’ battle with the Lernaean Hydra, when he chopped off one head, two more rose in its place. It seemed hopeless, but in the end, he was victorious. Throughout history, prejudice has worked in much the same way.
One head at a time, we can move toward a compassionate and united society of equals. So the next time you feel prejudice influencing you, remember to hold up your own mirror. Imagine what you might see in them, and in yourself; learn to view each other in new ways. Be aware that every human being is a unique and valuable individual.
If we all did this each day, we truly could change the world. And that is what Developmental Disability Awareness Month is all about. One month, one day, one person at a time, we can come to understand, respect, and love each other for who we are.