Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Advocacy #3: Give us a smile

on October 3, 2015

con·spic·u·ous

kənˈspikyo͞oəs/

adjective

1. standing out so as to be clearly visible.

2. attracting notice or attention.

synonyms: easily seen, clear, visible, noticeable, discernible, perceptible, detectable; person with Down syndrome

^

That’s reality right now.  Not that everyone in the room notices us, but that everyone in the room who does notice us can see that we are different.

We have run the gamut of responses to Down syndrome (remember this guy??).  Not all responses are negative.  Most, in fact, are quite benign, even a little sweet.  And they bring me to another little way that you can advocate for people with Down syndrome: smile.

Smile at everyone you meet on the street.  Good or bad, rich or poor, sick, healthy, clean, dirty, happy or sad.  A smile says “Hey, I see you, human being.”  I’m not saying you should fawn over every individual that crosses your path, nor should you go out of your way to grin awkwardly at someone who is different.  I’m saying that it is pretty cool if you let your eyes meet someone else’s (anyone else’sand allow yourself to smile.  And though you may think it far-fetched, it’s advocacy at its finest.

You see, when you share a smile with the differently-abled, the marginalized, those on the outskirts, it’s not really about them, it’s about the others in the room.  It’s about showing the world that it’s cool to be cool with everyone.  When you treat everyone who looks a little different with the same dignity and respect as you would that nice-looking, decently dressed human being walking toward you in the grocery store, it sends a message.

We are all humans.  Advocate for the humans by smiling kindly at the humans.  You can’t go wrong with that.

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