Friday, October 6, 2017

Is creating awareness enough? An insight by Lorraine Glowczak

As the month of October begins, it brings with it another host of days and weeks; and the month itself is dedicated to certain issues and diseases in the attempt to raise awareness around them. 

October is AIDS Awareness, National Bullying Prevention, National Domestic Violence Abuse as well as Breast Cancer Awareness month, to name just a few.

But have you ever wondered if raising awareness, of these and other concerns, is enough?

I have yet to conduct a non-bias scientific study that answers that question unequivocally, but as a writer who observes the world around her, I tend to think that the dedication to awareness of a variety of subjects has made some small changes. 

It seems the attempt to educate the general population on a variety of issues fosters change in the way we perceive and understand what others may be facing. I believe it’s possible that these significant days, create within each of us, a level of empathy that may not have existed prior to the newfound “awareness.”

Ways in which I have witnessed changes in myself as a result of these efforts include:
I have no fear of touching an individual with AIDS. 

When I was a teenager during the late 1970s and early 1980s, my original perception of such was that, to be in the same room as an individual with AIDS could adversely affect me. But through the many AIDS awareness efforts, I discovered that my misperception could not be further from the truth.

I can write or say ALS and not follow that with “otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Not only did that social media phenomenon raise tons of money for research, but it created such an intense awareness around this issue, that in just the past five years, I have said the letters, “ALS” without the need for clarification – everyone knows what I’m talking about. Fourteen years ago, when my friend was diagnosed with the disease, that was not the case.

There are more personal examples I can share, but with limited space available to write them all, I think these two instances demonstrate the potential for generating knowledge and change. And, better yet, action.

I don’t deny that there’s more work ahead for the multitudes of concerns and the steps that have been made thus far may be slow going. But microscopic movement forward is still progress that can improve lives.

So, is raising awareness on issues enough? It may not be the end all and be all, but it seems to foster growth and knowledge that produces positive change.

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