Janet Miles, CAP-OM (janetmiles) wrote,
Janet Miles, CAP-OM

National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week

I see that this is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, and that I have many friends and acquaintances with chronic invisible illnesses.

Most of these I have known about; others I didn't know until the person mentioned it recently.

Because I like to think that I'm a decent human being, I try to be aware of my friends' and acquaintances' abilities, limitations, and preferences, and to accommodate them whenever possible without crossing the line into overprotective nagging. Conversely, I try to avoid saying stupid, hurtful things. I hope that my friends and acquaintances will correct me when I'm wrong.

On the other hand, one thing I've learned from the discussions this year about institutional racism and institutional sexism is that even saying, "I hope you'll correct me when I'm wrong" comes from privilege -- that doing so lets me abdicate responsibility for treating people well by claiming that I didn't know I was doing wrong, or that "my other friend with this condition said it's okay". It is my responsibility to treat people appropriately, not the responsibility of a person I'm harming to point it out to me. My only excuse is that, even more than race or sex or gender, chronic conditions are going to be unique to each person, that generalizing is likely to be unsafe, and that what is helpful for one person may be harmful to another.

I've also learned that doing a right thing so that I can think of myself as a decent person is almost as bad as not doing it at all; I should do it because it's the right thing to do, without any sense of self-interest. I'm far too self-centered for that to ever happen, though.

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