Awareness overload

exclamationThis issue first started bothering me shortly after I escaped from my domestic violence situation. Before that, I barely paid attention to all the awareness events. October rolled around, and I discovered that domestic violence awareness was the same month as breast cancer awareness. I have a few friends that have been affected by breast cancer, so I am in no way minimizing this important issue; but I was mad. “That’s not fair! Something very important to me is now overshadowed by something else I’m supposed to care about!” Of course the guilt set in after that…how could I be so callous?

The second time this bothered me was last year when I volunteered in a hospital gift shop. A woman came in for an awareness bracelet, and started complaining that her particular problem only had a very putrid-looking greenish-gray bracelet (I can’t even remember what her illness was). She became very upset about how all the other illnesses had pretty colors, why did hers have to be so ugly. Oh come on, people. This is getting out of hand.

An article titled “What Good is ‘Raising Awareness?’” in The Atlantic, states:

According to a commentary published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, the United States has almost 200 official “health awareness days.” (The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists all national health observances on its website.*) And that’s not counting all the unofficial ones, sponsored by organizations.

A New York Times article, “Awareness is Overrated,” comes to the conclusion:

But the funny part about all of this awareness-raising is that it doesn’t accomplish all that much.

There are only 12 months, 52 weeks, and 365 days (except Leap Year), every year. Some health issues, tragic events, or causes are going to be left out or overshadowed. Then throw in all the current events with hashtags in social media, and curmudgeons like me just want to throw our arms up in the air and yell “Enough already!”

Here’s a novel idea…how about if we become aware of the human beings around us and the struggles that everyone goes through, and try to show compassion to everyone we meet? After all, do we really know what’s going on behind that smile or those tears?

*I started to type out all of those awareness days, but just go to the website if you’re really interested…I don’t have all day!

Tagged: awareness, compassion

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