A Reflection on Freedom for All

When I reflect on my own personal experience as a person with a mental health condition dealing with stigma or bias, I am quickly reminded about the silent and overt cultural expectations about what being an acceptable person in society should act and appear like. These are very prevalent and accepted in all forms of media and I am sure everyone of us can name a minimum of ten terms to describe someone who struggles with various conditions. It is made very clear that you should not appear vulnerable or even slightly unstable or you are some kind of threat to an ordered society. So for me, I knew very early on that I should strive with all that I contained to observe what I believed to be an acceptable level of outward and inward success. So, for me most of my experience was silent or self stigma. From my outward appearance I could for the most part hide in plain sight, while I worked on my inner health and self. Now, upon analysis I have come to realize that for others these stigmas, bias and generalizations are not silent. I imagine how things would have been very different and immeasurably more difficult if my struggles or genetic differences were on the outside. That possibly no matter the level of achievement I obtained, that I would not be able to affect in anyway how others perceived me. A frightening realization of an already difficult struggle layered with an almost unchangeable reality. To have a new found understanding of the certain levels of freedom taken for granted, given simply because of external appearance. I am understanding that these beliefs in otherness are based in our biology and how our brains perceive differences, but they are obviously pervaded by culture and accepted views that are transferred between each other. To begin to live within a society where we don’t see ourselves as very different from one another takes a shared experience and understanding. An effort to reflect on our own struggle based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, age or health. To have a deepening of how each of us has our own story about the burden we have had to overcome. To interrupt a quick decision that another lacks something, so they can be easily discounted. Division separates us and some will benefit for a while, but overtime we will certainly all loose out on variations of perspective and unique life experiences. To come together will benefit us all in the end and in my view we need all the perspectives available to solve our current conditions. Cooperation creates diverse possibility, community provides the fertile space for potential to grow and be heard. For me getting closer to this place of unity and oneness has come through breaking down my own barriers, built upon fear and contacting a place of loving universal compassion within. A place where a sensation of equity is a natural outpouring of the peaceful heart. A reflection of our natural state, one of beauty, love and true freedom for all.

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