Things that I’m aware of:
- decaf coffee
- thousand island dressing
- toy poodles
- interpretive dance
These are things that I don’t really have feelings about. I don’t interact with them, and they don’t bother me. I don’t have to take any action against or for them. We can all inhabit the same world with no issue.
That’s what awareness means. From dictionary.com:
the state or condition of being aware;
The object of the information drive is to
raise awareness of what spreads HIV/AIDS.
I included the example given because it really illustrates what I’m talking about (thanks, example!). People talk a lot about disease awareness (breast cancer awareness! MS awareness!) but the example above really uses the idea correctly: the campaign is to raise awareness of what spreads HIV/AIDS, not just awareness that HIV/AIDS exists. Being aware of only the disease and of nothing about it (cause, prevention, treatment, symptoms) is useless. Being aware of something is what happens first so you can then have feelings and thoughts and actions. I tend to think that disease awareness campaigns are slightly useless because they don’t fully offer a next step.
October makes me acutely aware of the meaning of awareness because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Suddenly, everything is pink and everyone is urging you to be aware. My reasoning for why the “pinking” of breast cancer sucks is better explained by someone more intelligent in this lovely essay, so just read that. My reasoning about the whole awareness thing should probably have been made clear already, you should be aware of why I dislike awareness. If you start to have any feelings about why I dislike disease “awareness,” you have become more than just aware.
It is also rough to see this strange culture that has arisen of survivors, clad in pink, marching on, smiling, ignoring the people who have not survived. It is rough that these women are termed warriors, because the implications for those who are dead are unspoken yet deeply saddening. That those women were weak? That they were not true warriors? Losing out to cancer is not worth any shame.
Breast cancer is not pretty and pink and it destroys lives. It takes away people who are missed, deeply so. It has been ten very long years, and I still miss my Aunt Kathryn. It is worse because she did not get to know who I have become and it is worse because I never got to know who she was on a more equal level. It is worse that I only ever knew her from a child’s perspective (obviously there is some anger felt at the people who have said it is better that I “never really got to know her” and thus could not fully miss her). While she was “only” my aunt, she was a sister and daughter and a wife and all of us wish that we still had her filling those roles. If you are going to be aware of something, please be aware of what diseases take away from the world. Be aware of the holes left in families and the real, non-pink, disgusting tumors and consequences and tears and treatments and deaths.
I wanted to publish this while it was still October and people were still pretending to care and thus might notice a little extra.