Deep breath! Okay, today is one of those days. In spite of the enormity of homework on my plate, I just need to vent/share. As a motivated and persistent optimist, I generally lead the pack on number of smiles, positive compliments, and volunteered helpful ideas. I love having a great story to tell–one that makes people smile or laugh or marvel.
Sometimes however, I observe, learn, and connect dots I wish I weren’t able to. You know, life is very precious. We often zip right through it at high speed and don’t fully appreciate the opportunities were speeding past. People with great stories; people with sad stories–both need to be told, both need to be heard. Kids, spouses, co-workers, elderly people, and those who dedicate their livelihood to serving the needs of others who just need a listening ear or interested and engaged companionship.
In the realm of human experience, we all suffer, endure pain and loneliness. We also feel great elation, excitement, bask in moments of victory or success…and sometimes, feel humbled and honored. Before all other things, we are human first! Our humanity is the one thing we share regardless of age, gender, color, ethnicity, titles, beliefs, position, captive or free, employed or unemployed, sexual orientation, political leaning, etc. WE ARE ALL HUMAN!!!
It’s so easy to hide behind or use a label as an excuse to dismiss or discount another… as a reason not to feel, be curious, be patient, or be affected. But when the world takes a big dump on you, that’s when you begin to wonder where humanity has gone; why doesn’t anybody slow down and notice that you are in need? So it starts with you, with me…responsibility and leadership is everyone’s job! Too many sit around and wait for someone else to step up and take the lead. If you assume its “somebody else’s job” then its nobody’s job and you’re just as much a part of the problem you seek relief from.
So, if your organization has a health and wellness program, or makes counseling or support programs available to its personnel, be curious, be interested enough to become part of the culture these programs are trying to foster. Events like last week’s Fort Hood shooting, and the school stabbings this week happen IN THE WORKPLACE, IN SOCIAL SETTINGS.
A program that asks you to “go somewhere else” for treatment or counseling is insufficient and only plays lip-service to the spirit of the intent behind it’s purpose. We must all be part of the solution and accountable to each other as fellow humans to make real change, to touch the lives of people in need. It is not enough that you tell someone that there is a service, assistance, or that counseling is available. Sometimes the individual in need is too close to their condition (inward-looking induced by pain of some sort) to even see a need for help. Some are too embarrassed to admit to being someone who “needs” help (men especially are reticent to admit need).
Whether you are a veteran, a friend of a veteran, a doctor, a lawyer, a neighbor, a banker, a teacher …. I encourage you to keep your eyes open to the human condition filled with stress, trauma, and depression around you. Ask yourself, is there someone in my sphere or daily life who may be in need. When you walk down hallways, say good morning or afternoon–make eye contact. Ask your neighbors or co-workers how they’re doing….I mean, “how are you really doing?” Sincerity is often all it takes to break through the walls of personal reservations for someone to begin sharing their need.
And another thing…Human behavior should be viewed on a spectrum… none of us stay in a single state, condition, or behavior all of the time. Behavior is just that–sometimes people may identify or describe our behavior as strange, normal, odd, different, optimistic, stressed, cheerful, buoyant, outgoing, reclusive… I have news for you–we all slip and slide across the spectrum throughout our lives; that’s what makes us “human.”
You may say, I have entirely too busy a life…if I begin opening up to one person, I stand the risk of becoming the office counselor or a whining post. I’d much rather give a person 15 minutes of undivided attention on a recurring basis and let another human being know that I recognize, relate to, and appreciate their human condition, than to walk into work and at some point be in lockdown because I didn’t.
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