The most misunderstood quote I have ever heard of is by Jean Paul Sartre. His line about "Hell is Other People" is usually translated as an excuse to withdraw from society as a whole - not unlike that actress (whose name escapes me at the moment) who famously said "I want to be alone".
The true meaning of the "Hell is Other People" quote is more along the lines of "Hell is Other People's Opinions, Fashions, Fads, and Judgements" especially when - no matter how much you attempt to conform to the ideals and conventions set down by someone who has never met you - you know you are going to come up short.
As someone who has a lifetime's experience of trying to conform in one way or another - with varying degrees of failure - mainly due to my sight, I wish we could all just treat each other as valuable humans.
The second part of the title to this post is a bit of a play on words. The medical definition of "Astigmatism" is blurred vision caused by an irregular shaped cornea or lens which results in blurred vision. I borrowed the word because it sounded a bit like it was along the lines of "asymetric" or not symetric (ie, uneven - as in Asymetric Bars now known as "Uneven Bars" in gymnastics).
"Stigmatism" is s something we all face in one form or another (and to differing degrees). It seems like not a day goes by without someone somewhere deciding to have a protest or campaign against inequality of some kind.
So - my definition of "Astigmatism" would be not having (or being subjected to) any kind of stigma.
There is a dangerous flip side though. If we concentrate on removing stigma from sections of society, ie, women, disabled people, homeless, unemployed, etc, how are we going to treat them as fully paid up members of society? More to the point - how are we going to "empower" (you really have no idea how much I hate that word) them to realise that they can achieve anything everybody else can???
As a "Disabled" person myself - I really hate it when people decide what I need without asking me, or judge me on what they see before they allow me to show them who I am. Yes - I may do some things differently to how you do them but I work on the assumption that "as long as it gets done that is all that matters".
You can have all the "Anti-Ism" Days you can fit into a year, you can even hold focus groups about how you are going to fight discrimination against every section of society you can think of. However, if you don't listen to the people affected by discrimination when they telll you what they want to be done about it, you are just wasting your time on a "Look At Me - Aren't I brilliant?" mission which helps nobody.
Richie Sambora wrote "If God Was A Woman" http://youtu.be/9EJMduFhgqM talking about exactly what I have been discussing in this blog post.
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