International Day of Acceptance

Model UN celebrated International Day of Acceptance (January 20th) with Respect Jamaica. Our MUNers share stories on acceptance and what that means to them.

Acceptance is feeling like a part of your community regardless of any debilitating physical or mental factors. I believe a key feature to that feeling of inclusion is having your peers empower you through allowing the exploration of passions rather acting out of pity.

When my youngest brother was only 3 he had a seizure while having a bath. It turned out he had epilepsy and the frequency of his attacks prevented him from attending school and associating as freely with his peers. He developed a learning disability and was ridiculed by his peers because of it. Parents urged their children to be kind to him because he was ‘slow’ which made him feel even more excluded. At home we decided to treat him like any other child while catering to his specific learning needs with a tutor who could spend extra time with him without patronizing him and allowing to explore his passions like art and swimming. He flourished under this empowerment and his peers began to see him as their equal rather than their charity case. He’s 12 now and doing GSAT in March. He couldn’t be happier and we couldn’t be prouder.

- Jade Williams 

True acceptance has to do with loving one’s flaws and embracing them in everyday life regardless of what the world thinks of you and your disability. But of course, we all know that it is hard enough for a person to accept and love themselves unconditionally with the added knowledge that society sees them as unequal or unlovable due to their mental or physical disability. So naturally, acceptance should come from both sides of the spectrum.

I believe the key is seeing the beauty in such uniqueness, how it may set one apart from the majority, or allow one to experience life in a whole different way. In the end though, the most important thing for one to accept is that “you are not living disabled, you are living.” Once that is fully understood, then there can be no limit to the self-confidence born out of true acceptance.

- Ashleigh Whittaker

Acceptance means recognising that everyone is aiming to live a happy and meaningful life and has something to offer to society. Acceptance also means treating everyone the same regardless of any differences. Each person in society has opinions and has a voice that deserves to be heard and no group of persons should be pushed to the back of society because in the eyes of some they are seen as less able. They should all be given equal opportunity and chances to influence and contribute to society.

“In my life I continue to make an effort to be more sensitive of differences and accept each person as an equal contributor to a successful society.

- Kris-Michael Robsinson 

Acceptance is a two way process, society must take steps to include all members and individuals themselves should be cognisant of their condition. Most of my family generally used my cousin as an example of everything that could go wrong with children and parenting, a benchmark of failure. The family slowly realized he was autistic; his parents, however, are still in denial. Since his oblivious parents wielded the most power over him, there was little anyone else could do.While his family tried to nurse his wounds, distance and his abusive parents were counterproductive. Most of our childhood was spent playing in our grandmother’s garden but it abruptly stopped when he left.

It’s been over 20 years since he migrated and we’ve barely had contact until as recently as 2 years ago. It took years but he finally came to a point he felt comfortable expressing what he was going through, I don’t know what path he took to reach acceptance but I’m glad it led him to me. For hours he told me exactly how he was feeling and his experience without fear a Facebook notification from him is my reminder that he just wants empathy if nothing else.

Acceptance on my part is being a listening ear when he needs it the most, a reminder of comfort and peace. Conflict is rooted in misconstrued differences, empathy and inclusion of the most vulnerable helps humanity to progress. His disability is one of those invisible in nature, likewise his need for help was often oblivious to many - including himself.

- Mia Fraser

It is the feeling we all crave, from the moment we first enter the world, crying and helpless, to the moment we take our final breath and depart from the world. Every human has different components of their identity, such as their faith (or lack thereof), their race, their school, their political orientation, their sexual orientation and many others. These labels we give ourselves and each other gives others an idea of the kind of person someone is.

Acceptance is that sense of belonging we feel with other people who we share things in common with. In my own life, acceptance is manifested through the collective feeling of brotherhood I feel with my high school friends whenever we hang out. Or that feeling of unity I get whenever I pray at my mosque.

Every human being wants to be a part of something greater than themselves and that’s what I think acceptance is really all about.

- Kyle Williamson