When you see the words forensic, criminal or bipolar near my name or face what does it make you think? Would you welcome me into your home? Would you let me watch your children? Would you stop and talk to me on the street?
Unfortunately we carry attitudes and assumptions based not on the specific situation but anything that resembles it. It is a shortcut to feeling secure. When someone is afraid of dogs it is unusual that it involves a specific breed. Anything with hair and a long snout will keep you at a distance.
Stigma is similar. It is an attitude held for everyone without making an informed decision regarding the specifics. We see the long snout and draw from our minds a series of barks. We do not trust or expose ourselves to the new information because it is safer to be mistaken and impoverished of the individual than it is to be exposed to the negatives the group has been identified with.
I was blonde when it wasn’t fashion and Dumb Blonde Jokes were plentiful. When we assume someone’s intelligence is co-related to hair colour we can chuckle at the absurdity. When we assume the mentally ill are dangerous or violent and that they should be institutionalized it has a direct impact on their treatment. Blondes weren’t being put back in school because people thought they were stupid. The mentally ill are affected by attitudes. If you cross the street what does an employer do? If you laugh at us what does the world do but laugh with you? If you close yourself off to the specifics of someone with a mental illness you may remain safe but you will be immersed in your own ignorance.
If you keep your distance from dogs you may never be bitten but you can be guaranteed you will never be licked.
Is it human to seek despite what you have found? Even at the grocery store we don’t stop when we have what we need, we continue until we have everything on the list and then some. There is always one more record for the vinyl collection, one more place to visit or another gigabyte or pixel to be had.
Is it something in our ancestry; times of scarcity or are we being played? If compact disks weren’t marketed would we have any need to abandon cassettes? I won’t argue with the improvement but as necessity is the mother of invention I simply question the necessity. With all the “progress” in music formats why do audiophiles swear by vinyl? If vinyl is the pinnacle has the last 25 years of “progress” been for naught?
Without doubt some advances are clearly so (at present). I am satisfied that health care professionals wash their hands but how many people have been saved by Prozac and how many have died because of it?
Mental illness used to be locked in the attic or asylum; now it resides on the street or in prison. I fear we cannot see the forest for the trees. As we shake our heads at the past, so will the future at the present.
When mental illness is given the degree of respect we hold for physical ailments, change will be inevitable. Mental illness may not be locked in the attic but the window has only been cracked and the breeze of stigma still fills the room with its stench.
If I have cells in my brain that form a tumor I am one thing. If I have cells in my brain that chemically affect me I am another. We split much less than hairs and walk on the opposite side of the street.
We pride ourselves on our technological advancements but fail to see our compassionate stagnation. If only we valued new ideas, new thoughts and new attitudes as much as new products. If only we rushed out an obtained a new point of view as quickly as a Blu-ray. If only we could package and promote understanding and put ignorance to the curb with the garbage where it belongs we might see true progress.
The next time you reach for change in your pocket; ask yourself if it is the change you need to make.
I always marvel at people who have done something for decades. It could be an occupation, hobby or even a relationship. I can proudly boast to have breathed for such lengths of time but little else.
Is it some character flaw or am I inherently dynamic? Is it natural to be somewhat static or are we meant to be instruments and products of change?
If you look at technology and products, change seems to be an aim as much as a need to fulfill a present need. If you look at nature change seems to be part of the design. Mountains become hills, rapids brooks and trees soil. Death may seem to be static but a life lived carries forward in the hearts and minds of many. We ripple through the ages through family, friend and foe. A word spoken or a fist raised may weaken but does it die? If a poet inspires one person or a generation is it not somehow felt by the next?
Possibly, our notion that there is an end to something leads to carelessness. If you believe the gesture is simply that, it may be easier to be casual about it. If you believe it is a current that touches more than one shore, it may be prudent to be more tactful.
Have you ever scolded a child or pet? They are forgiving and resilient but what is said remains lurking somewhere in their minds. They may not cower at the next consonant but what do they carry into their futures beside your words and actions?
Some argue that the past is simply the past but I see my past as essentially what I am made of…it can’t be anything yet to happen. What I have seen, what I have heard and what I have experienced and felt have a huge impact on today. It may be something like coming out of a cave. The present experience of the outside is directly impacted by the former experience of being in the cave. Is it the brilliance of the light or lack thereof in the cave that causes you to squint and blink? Is the view actually unimaginable or has the sterility of the stone walls made it so?
We all live in caves of habit and routine. It could be the aforementioned occupation or hobby or something less productive. What we continue to do we continue to experience. How we react and act towards one another is a result of these experiences. Can we change anyone or anything without changing ourselves? The past will always reside in the cave but do you want the future to reflect those stone walls or the brilliance of what lays beyond?
I’m a little slow on the take but I have been informed it is a new year. What the hell does that mean? Longer days and spring on the way? For the impatient and intolerant it may mean migration to warmer climes. For most of us it is a belly full of booze and food and a list of ignorable resolutions.
Why does the sun have to be at a certain point in space to summon the willpower or lack thereof to make changes to our lives? Is it easier to lose weight in January than in June? I might argue it is less so as we cozy up in our dwellings. I for one don’t even try my “Speedo” on in January which for anyone familiar with me would provide sufficient stimulus to do several crunches. I keep a few old outfits which when worn would shock any self-respecting person to purchase, rent, borrow, fabricate or steal a treadmill. This time of year the beach is so far from my mind that I am oblivious that I undo my pants anytime I am not in public. I am not a closet exhibitionist by choice…I only own one pair of stretch jeans!
I am inspired by the many joggers I see this time of year. I honk encouragement which is a subtle disguise for my theory that I will never see them again despite their new shoes and insulated spandex. I may be jaded. What resolutions do people make where it is seasonably warm? They live with the horror of being called on at anytime to wear a bikini.
As my partner who is ironically a personal trainer points out, there is no shortcut to symmetry. Symmetry? I just want to do my pants up! I just want to pull the seat-belt in one smooth motion without it locking up at the point where a fit person fits. I just want to be able to utter complete sentences at the top of the stairs.
Please tell me how to keep a resolution. I think my problem is I have “nervous” habits. No, I don’t bite my nails or bang my head but it’s the damn “Speedo.” If you saw me in it you would be nervous too. It’s a bit like Michael Jackson showing the world his baby. There is a bit of beauty but all you want to do is scream.