I remembered today a conversation that I had with a friend in high school. I used to mentor mentally handicapped students throughout high school and college. One day, a friend of mine saw me walking out after one of my mentor sessions and told me that he thought what I was doing was great. I responded by telling her that I didn’t see what was so laudable about just hanging out with kids. I enjoyed it; it was a fun time for me. She then proceeded to tell me that she felt so bad for them, and I immediately told her that I didn’t, without thinking about it. It’s just how I felt. She asked me why not, and then I realized, I didn’t feel bad for them because they didn’t want me to. Everybody around them felt bad for them, and all their interactions were informed by their conditions. They really liked me because I treated them like I treated all my friends; I treated them like people and not just diagnoses. This memory is the inspiration for today’s thought.
Thought of the Day
People who have handicaps or who have experienced tragedies are sick of being pitied. They don’t want people feeling sorry for them and forgetting everything other than that one negative part of them or their lives. We act like we’re being good people when we feel sadness for those less fortunate. Yet, we don’t do anything to help them. We just treat them differently and pretend like we’re being noble.
Pity is a useless emotion. It accomplishes nothing. All it does is force you to treat people like they are less than people. It makes you see tragedy where there is justice. It makes you deceive yourself into thinking that you are an empathetic caring person. Instead, try treating those less fortunate like actual people. Don’t focus on their handicap; it doesn’t define who they are.
You will be remarkably surprised at how positively people will respond.