I was writing about being different yesterday, in a somewhat vague sort of way. I thought about that today while I was working and felt that maybe I ought to visit that subject again. There are more reasons that cause one to be or to be considered different than there are stars in the sky. But lets discuss a few anyway.
Socialization--or lack of said socialization. Sadly you hear of more and more cases where children are kept locked away in a house or room. They are left alone, possibly a crumb of food tossed in from time to time, other than that, nothing. They are underweight, under skilled and afraid- if they survive. Then there are those who are not abused, but are not around their peers enough to know how to act in a social setting. They may be a bit clumsy, confused as to how to act, what to say or not say, they may join in the discussions or activity, or they may find a place off to the side to stand and watch the others. You can see the 'want to' expression on their face, but they simply don't know how to join in.
Disease--For a very long time, AIDS caused people to be avoided and shunned. I recently read an article of how Leprosy is still causing the same actions and reactions in India. This are long term conditions that cause people to be afraid. They may not be educated enough to understand how many diseases are spread so they fear them all and do all they can to get rid of the one who is ill. Even when the one who is ill is not contagious, they are still treated as if they were.
Handicaps--There are too many different handicaps to try and list them here. We will just take a few to discuss then I'm sure you will understand. Autism, a development issue. There are high and low functioning autistic individuals. Yet, the very fact they are autistic makes them different. They may be able to function just as well or even better than one who is not autistic, but since it is known, they are treated differently. Sadly, there are individuals who think it fine to ridicule or deride a person with a handicap such as this..forgetting that these are individuals with feelings just like anyone and everyone else. Slower, even minutely, does not make them less.
Handicaps that one is born with-there are unfortunately times that a medication that the mother takes, or if the mother uses drugs or alcohol when the baby may be born handicapped. There may be malformed or missing limbs. They may not be able to function properly physically. The strong live on in spite of the handicap.
Handicaps that are life created-accidents unfortunately are a part of life. We get hurt at home, at work, on vacation, in auto accidents to name only a few. There are times that those accidents cause great harm to our body leaving us handicapped. Whether we become confined to a wheelchair, a walker or even a cane, we are changed. We are now different. Limbs may be lost, creating cause to change our lifestyle, another difference.
Personality--one could have the personality that doesn't fit in the box called normal. They could have a greater, more unique sense of humor, they could be artistic, they could be simply themselves seeing life only as they can see it. They march and dance to the beat of their own drummer. One that no one else can hear leaving them at a loss to understand why someone would act the way they do.
Maturity-some kids are slower to mature than others. Some people never fully mature in the way that society expects. They find enjoyment and entertainment in the simply things, laughing at the childish, delighting in the offbeat.
None of the above is anything that hasn't been said many times over. We've all heard it, but how many times have you witnessed someone being cruel to another simply because they are different? Think about the movie Forest Gump and how he was tormented by others simply because of his differences. Think of all the articles and news reports you've seen where people have been cruel, rude, and uncaring in public places. Think of the reaction that some of those articles have gotten when there was someone involved who cared enough to take a stand for those being mistreated.
Different, is not wrong. Different is not weird. Different is simply- different.
We do not honestly want to all be the same, a cookie cutter humanity with no humanity. That my friends is machinery- robots, androids, what ever you want to call it. Everyone would be alike, likeing the same things, saying the same words, reading the same books, playing the same games..it would be in a word, boring. We would find ourselves trapped in sameness. Nothing new would be discovered, nothing beautiful would be created. Even those, and sometimes especially those who are different for what ever reason are the ones who find the beautiful and create the new quicker because they aren't trapped within the boundaries of 'normal'. It is also very possible that for the same reasons mentioned, that these people called different, are able to in many ways have more fun.
I believe that it is important that we realize the pain that we cause when we mistreat others. Even those with handicaps can understand body language and rude, cruel comments. They know when they are being laughed at. How would we feel if we were in their place? How would we feel, if we woke up tomorrow and found ourselves on the receiving end of cruelty? Different is as different does- be different today- be kind to someone. Be different tomorrow- pass it forward, kindness and concern, kindness and compassion, does not diminish, it only grows larger, spreads wider, moves farther when shared.