October is the month for awareness of a number of things directly related to me: Clergy Appreciation, Infant Loss, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Dwarfism, Disability Employment. There are many other items featured this month and here is what is probably a partial list: Spina Bifida, Domestic Violence, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Down Syndrome, Breast Cancer, Bullying Prevention, LGBT History, Hispanic History, Cerebral Palsy, and AIDS Awareness.
Every month there is a new list of "Awareness Campaigns". So what is the point? What does an awareness campaign hope to accomplish? For some it is about fundraising, research and providing resources. For others it is about recognition of issues. I think for all of them, it is asking the greater population who may NOT be affected by the issue to pause and observe, "This is my experience."
Our "Western culture" focuses on the individual. Eastern culture has more focus on the community and the good of the whole. Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" has "self-actualization" as the top of the pyramid. Spiral Dynamics theory places our highest evolutionary stages as ones in which we are self-actualized in service to a greater whole.
Awareness campaigns seek to lift up into our conscious vision a part of the whole we may never notice or acknowledge as different from our own experience. With awareness comes empathy and compassion and a desire to support the divine potential in others. With each "Awareness," there are social, economic and political issues that impact individual's lives, health and happiness. We are called to identify ways in which we may do the greatest good for the whole.
Let us listen to one another and have compassion for the experiences of others. Let us see the divine potential in one another and take action when possible that supports others in accessing what we desire for ourselves: a healthy and purposeful life. Let us be aware of one another! Reverend Joy