-phobes and -isms
A note on -phobes and -isms; Beware of the hidden characteristics of the audience onto which you are puking your judgmental toxins.
From the Online Etymology Dictionary : -phobe comb. form meaning "fearing," from Fr. -phobe, from L. -phobus, from Gk. -phobos "fearing," from phobos "fear, panic, flight," phobein "put to flight, frighten" (see phobia).
From the Online Etymology Dictionary : -ism :suffix forming nouns of action, state, condition, doctrine, from Fr. -isme or directly from L. -isma, -ismus, from Gk. -isma, from stem of verbs in -izein. Used as an independent word, chiefly disparagingly, from 1670s.
-phobes result is -isms: fear of something reveals it self through the disparaging of it.
Some things can be seen, but others cannot. You can avoid acting on your racism because you can tell by looking at a person (much of the time - I realize that as the world becomes more intermixed that races are disappearing) that they are of a certain race. You can avoid acting on your fatism (yes - it is a word) because you can see by looking at someone that they are fat. Same with disabled people - you can usually see a physical disability and sometimes a developmental disability. Nobody except a SEVERELY insensitive person would say something derogatory to these semi-obvious audiences.
More things cannot be seen; learning disabilities, alcoholism, depression, violence at home, eating disorders, diabetes (and tons of other diseases). If you have a strong opinion on any of these things, you might want to keep them to yourself unless you KNOW your audience. Someone might be on medication for depression that you don't know about. Someone might be starving themselves to death. Someone might be fighting alcoholism or violence at home with all the strength they have left. Your uninformed and unsolicited opinion on people in these situations (when you don't know that you are talking to one of them) can only hurt.
People need to THINK about what they say no matter to whom they think they are speaking. If you have opinions that you would not share knowingly with the relevant audiences, then perhaps you should review your feelings and thoughts on the topic. If you don't want to work your self improvement in these areas, then at least keep your mouth shut.
Why am I writing this now? Because another instance came up at work recently and it reminded me of how people speak and act all the time for no reason and with so much ignorance. The instance at work reminded me also of two instances in which ignorance on the part of the person speaking/acting almost killed two people I love. I guess you could say these feelings have been simmering for a while.
So what happened, you ask? At work the other day one of the supervisors was acting really oddly and someone joked that she 'must have taken her happy pills today'. What that person didn't realize as they made this comment is that someone in their audience fought depression and rage for years before getting help through medication. I looked at the person immediately to make sure they were ok and did not take the "joke" personally. What compounded the insensitivity was that the perpetrator continued to comment "she really *is* on medication" as if it were a shameful thing.
Most of the people who are on medication for emotional issues are not there through laziness or lack of will. Usually, it's just the opposite.
This is something that people who have not experienced it first hand or through a friend or loved one do not understand. People who have come to the point in their own development and wellness where they take medication have already been through hell and back (and so have the people who love them). The people who take medication for depression or rage issues have fought hard for themselves and for their loved ones. For whatever reason (epigenetics?), these people have brains that work against them in some ways instead of with them. The work they go through - from being miserable and angry - to realizing/admitting they need help - to finding someone who can help them - to choosing medication for the benefit of themselves and their family.
These are not weak people. These are not lazy people. They are stronger than you will ever know - unless you've been walking their road with them.
A story from the past involves my friend who went through an anorexic period when we were teens. I still don't know what prompted it - but she just stopped eating one day worked out as much as she could. At first people just thought she was just dieting to lose weight. Of course everyone congratulated her - because that's what we do in America - encourage weight loss no matter the health consequences to the individual.
Her parents, teachers, acquaintances all encouraged the weight loss. It seemed I was the only one who knew something was wrong. I tried to get adults to help, but I was just told that I was jealous of her efficient progress in losing weight. *Please note that I was not overweight as a teen* As time went on, my friend used the classic tricks of wearing baggy clothes and not showing skin to anyone. She pretended to eat - always at another time or place when asked - and started drinking coffee so nobody would notice that she had *NO* energy. To me, she started looking skeletal and had big dark marks under her eyes. To everyone else, she was looking fantastic.
After many rounds of begging and some threats, I got her parents to take her to a psychologist - who of course diagnosed the anorexia immediately and provided referrals. She was finally getting the help she needed and she worked hard to become better once she realized she had a problem. She worked hard to start eating again - which is another thing that people will never understand unless they have walked this road with someone.
The American obsession with thin-ness fought her at every turn.
People who did not know their audience would comment on what she was eating or that she looked like she was gaining weight. This derailed her several times as she fought tooth and nail to become well. It was a hard journey for her and for those who cared about her. I am aware that it is common American custom to congratulate weight loss and be negative about weight gain - but it's stupid and dangerous. If my friend's parents had not been threatened into getting their daughter help, her family and friends might have very well congratulated her on her weight loss right into her coffin.
The other story involves a cop that was so ignorant about Type 1 Diabetes, he almost killed my friend.
Have you ever seen the movie Steel Magnolias? This scene in the beauty parlor gave me chills when I first saw it and it's upsetting enough that I will not watch it again. I have always thought Julia Roberts deserves an award for her eerily accurate portrayal of a woman having an insulin reaction. I have seen real ones many times - and this is what it looks like. It is terrifying to witness.?p>
The cop that almost killed my friend had obviously not had any training regarding the illness. My friend was driving when he became aware that he was having an insulin reaction and the only goal in his head was to get home. He knew that once he was at home, he could get the help (and sugar) that he needed. A person having an insulin reaction is very focused but not terribly logical. Sure, he could have stopped at a gas station to try and get a snack or stopped driving and called someone for help. But he didn't. His brain told him that he needed to get home to help and safety. In his attempt to do this, he was driving erratically, weaving and speeding. This caught the attention of a cop who tried to pull him over. Since his brain was on auto-pilot to get home, he did not stop. The cop, of course, found this unacceptable and followed my friend all the way to his house.
As my friend was stumbling out of his car to try and get to his house, the cop started to tell him to get his hands up, etc - at this point there were witnesses because of the lights and siren. My friend tried to tell the cop he was having an insulin reaction, was diabetic and needed sugar and needed to get in his house. The cop refused to listen to my friend until he ended up unconscious on the ground and the paramedics were called by a witness. By the time my friend's sugar level was tested, it was so low that the paramedics were surprised he was even still alive. The cop's ignorance and unwillingness to listen to my friend's attempt at communication almost killed my friend. I thought my friend and his parents should press charges, but they did not agree.
Luckily, all three of the people in this post are alive and - relatively - well. The chemical depression and chemical rage has been brought under control enough with medication that my friend can work on continuing to improve herself each day. My (formerly) anorexic friend is a normal size for her build and continues to workout regularly but she no longer starves her body. My diabetic friend continues to struggle with his Type 1 Diabetes, but does his best to control it as much as he can every day.>
The moral of these stories is threefold. One lesson is KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. You may not mean to offend someone with your -phobes, -isms and judgmental-ness, but you can cause irreparable damage. Could you be the cop who ignorantly ignored my friend into unconsciousness? Could you have contributed to congratulating my other friend right into her grave? The scary thing is - you probably wouldn't even realize it until it was too late. The second lesson is SHUT UP. If you wouldn't say it knowingly to someone with the characteristic, then don't say it at all. The third lesson is LOOK AT YOURSELF. If you look at yourself and think about the things you say, determine whether or not you need to make some changes to your biases.