Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Give People the Benefit of the Doubt

This is hard for me to write, but this is a matter that's been percolating for a while in my mind.

If you've been reading anything that I've been posting on for a while, you'll might have heard me mention sarcoidosis-- it's an auto immune disease that I have. These sum it up nicely:

Okay... hopefully you get the picture of what it's like living with sarcoid. 

So, here is the story that started this line of thinking: my family had this big Disney World trip planned for about a year-- and literally 2 weeks before we went I got out of the hospital after a 10 day stay due to sarcoid complications and getting surgery.

Well, the only way the doctors said I could go is if I brought my wheel chair because I couldn't walk more than 5 minutes without my oxygen dropping, which would bring on hearth arrhythmia, yadda yadda yadda. There's nothing wrong with my legs, though, so nothing stops me from transferring to rides-- it's actually nice to get out and stretch a bit. And I always fold up the wheelchair for the buses because it takes up less room. 

So I'm at Disney World, and people are getting snarky with me. Like they wheel me in the back entrance of Splash Mountain, and I get out to transfer to the ride, and some couple across the platform who had to wait are muttering about how people shouldn't use a wheel chair if they don't need one. And some people even complained to the bus driver in the WDW transportation system for letting me on first, as per federal regulation.  

Well, way to dampen my day, everyone. I just worked a year and scrimped and saved to take a nice vacation and looked forward to getting my mind off my freaking disease, and people just go and ruin it. Thanks. 

Guess what? I do need a wheelchair, for my lungs and heart. Just because my legs work don't mean I don't need one. You don't get a wheelchair just because you're lazy, and believe me, those of us in a wheel chair would give anything to change places with people who can walk, because ya'll are always tumbling over us to get past us, and cutting in front of us to make us have to stop short-- okay? And don't even get me started when I'm sitting there watching some show going on, and you walk in front of me and stand there because there was 3 inches of space in front of me for you to squeeze in. 

And guess what? I'm not in a wheelchair to cut lines. I've lived near Disney a long time and have had Florida resident passes. I'd never taken an actual vacation there, staying at a hotel, but I know all the ins and outs of it. I know how to plan my itinerary to avoid long lines, how to make the most of the Fast Pass system, and I could do it long before I ever had a wheelchair. 

Contrary to popular beliefs due to sensationalized reporting, people in wheel chairs or mobility issues do not get to walk right on rides at Disney World... sometimes they make us wait elsewhere. Sometimes we have to wait even longer than the regular line, because we have to wait for accessibility. 
The vast majority of rides do not have special secret entrances for people on wheels. I wasn't getting any special treatment-- and frankly if I could walk like I used to be able to walk around, I'd get on twice as many rides if I didn't have to wheel from place to place.

And, finally: newsflash to people. I did not rent a wheel chair just to be able to board the bus first. In fact, most of the time when lines got long, I would have to wait with my family, watching 2 and 3 buses pass, waiting for one that had enough space for me.

Yes, it hurt-- I was there to have fun and not doing anything wrong, but people assumed I was just lazy and trying to scam the system. I really tried not to let it bother me, but it was one recurring incident after another. It was frustrating.  

So what is my point in all this, and how does it relate to Wicca?

Okay, so my point is this. It sucks when people jump to conclusions about you, and your character, and make assumptions. And it was a real lesson that hit me over the head because I've done that myself to people in different situations. I try not to judge, and I've certainly gotten better about it over the years since Wicca taught me to be more relaxed and open minded. But sometimes it's just a knee-jerk reaction, and I realize I can still be guilty of it.

So whether this was karma or what, I don't know... it certainly was something that I chose to turn into a lesson. It made me want to be more aware of how I reacted to other people, or how I might make assumptions about their meetings or motives. I remind myself that we're all coming from different places. So I try to give people the benefit of the doubt more now. 

I realized that I shouldn't even be angry with the people who made me feel bad... because they were misinformed. They are probably lucky enough to be healthy; at least healthy enough for it not to occur to them that there are other afflictions besides paraplegia or broken legs that could put someone in a wheel chair. They probably read some of those nasty BS hype articles about some underground Disney World smuggling ring where people in wheelchairs accept thousands of dollars under the table to get wealthy people on all the rides without waiting for a single line.

I learned something a long time ago, from someone who was very wise and taught me a lot: you can't change other people, but you can change how you react to them.

So, finally, My Tip for You Today:  Give someone the benefit of the doubt. 

Don't assume the guy cut you off in traffic because he's an unfeeling SOB... maybe he's racing home to his pregnant wife who called him to tell him she felt sick. Don't assume the person who might have stepped in front of you in line was trying to cut-- maybe they got distracted and really didn't see you. Don't assume the lady who yelled at you at work is just a horrible person-- she might have treated you horribly, but maybe she's under tremendous pressure and she's just trying to hang on to the frayed end of her ropes. 

A lot of people will say they don't trust others, too many people have let them down, treated them like crap, etc.; but do we ever stop to wonder how much of that was maybe what we read into the situation, but making presumptions about other people's intentions or feelings? 

The fact is, we want people to give us the benefit of the doubt, don't we? We don't want other people making assumptions about us, or the people we care about. We all have those moments when we want to say, "Wait, let me explain my side," or "you caught me at a bad time, this is not what I'm usually like."  But many of us, we're quick to do it to others without much of a thought. 

Here's something to try: whenever someone annoys you, pisses you off, does something rude, or is in the religion/political party/social group/etc. that you usually can't stand to hear about, stop and think. Just think for a moment, could perhaps this person be a good person who's just making a mistake? Or wrapped up in his own stuff to not realize how he's affecting you? Or perhaps, the person is just not what he/she seems to be? 

It's funny when you try to turn it around like that, look at it from a different perspective, a different possibility... a place of compassion... to have a positive reaction rather than a negative reaction, it can really help you. You'll feel better, even if the person who pissed you off was really being an idiot. 

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