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The Lake News Online
  • My view: Fear, hate are the biggest handicaps

  • We live in a world swamped with fear.

    We fear the government watching us.

    We fear the spread of radical Islam.

    We fear those who are different from ourselves — be they of a different religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
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  • We live in a world swamped with fear.
    We fear the government watching us.
    We fear the spread of radical Islam.
    We fear those who are different from ourselves — be they of a different religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
    We fear the stereotypes of others will rub on our children, friends, etc. if exposed to different types of people.
    The pervasive fear that has leeched through the country has translated into hate and hateful acts.
    Fear and hate led to the burning of a mosque in Joplin and a shootout at Sikh temple in 2012.
    It was fear that spurned a hateful confrontation in Florida that led to the shooting death of a black teen in Florida in Feb. 2012.
    Something as simple as a difference in sports team rendered a father hospitalized for years after a severe beating at a rival stadium — all over minute human differences.
    In my college years, I took a course that required each student to volunteer 40 hours during the semester to an agency or program that catered to people on the fringes of society: people with physical or mental challenges, the ill, the economically disadvantaged, etc.
    I spent my time that semester volunteering at Services for Independent Living, an agency that helps people learn the tools to live and function on their own, despite physical or mental limitations.
    On my first day at SIL, I had to interview with my “boss,” the person responsible for the implementation of several programs aimed at adolescents just beginning their journey into independence.
    I was dressed to the nines, hoping to make a good first impression, when out came the program coordinator. He was not what I expected.
    The coordinator used a motorized wheelchair, was unable to shake my hand because of physical limits and spoke slowly and deliberately. At times, I had a hard time understanding his speech.
    On my first day volunteering with clients at SIL, I encountered people with serious physical limitations, something that completely threw me for a loop. I was out of my comfort zone. To be honest, I was a little afraid of some of these children — yes, children — that didn’t have legs like mine, or bodies like mine, or heads like mine. I didn’t know how to react to them.
    That night, the few volunteers were supposed to interact with the kids, get to know them and play games with them.
    I took up Wii bowling with some of the kids there that night.
    That night set in motion a series of changes in my thinking about people with differences compared to myself.
    Page 2 of 2 - The project coordinator was a person of high responsibility, motivation and understanding, despite using a motorized wheelchair and having speech impairments.
    The children and young adults in the programs in which I volunteered — most of whom do not look, speak or act like most other people I know — more readily displayed love, acceptance and patience than almost anyone I’ve encountered in the “real world.”
    The people at SIL taught me that no physical limitation is as crippling as fear.
    No mental challenges is as inhibiting as hateful speech and actions.
    Fear and the ensuing hatred causes the doors to close on a life where anything is possible and the happiness is just on the horizon.
    If only everyone could have the same experience and learn the same lessons from those exemplary people.
    A heart full of fear, anger and hate towards others is no way to go through life.
    Letting go of the fear of others, no matter how different, can set in motion healing in the personal sphere and on a national level.
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