A wide shot of the Andes Mountains with a snow covered Mt. Ausangate in the center. The 2020 team of eleven are hiking in the foreground on a beautiful day.

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When Assumptions Go Awry — What You Should Do
24 Oct
By 2020
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By Randy Pierce

Typically people with good intent and motivation are a fantastic form of support and pathway to positive accomplishment. However, a well-intentioned and motivated person taking action can sometimes lead to significant detriment even worse than the lost opportunity. I want to strongly suggest that we all should take care in being certain of our information before we leap to conclusions and actions which can bring about more harm than good.

Having spent significant time managing the challenges of a wheelchair confinement, I frequently found to my dismay parking spots for the handicap used by someone I was told had no plate or tag to indicate they belonged there. This would frustrate me tremendously and inspire me to advocate for the education of the perpetrator. Many of us have times of weakness and I am no different; at times my definition of advocate involved a harsh word or two directed to the person as they returned to their car and allowed us to park where there was space enough to load/unload my wheelchair. While this seems mostly reasonable to me even now, there are often more details than are obvious without a bit further exploration, and in the future I will attempt to withhold my ire and assertive response in order to make an inquiry that might help better educate all involved.

Recently, an enlightening letter was written by a not so ordinary mother to a person who left a not so kind note upon a car. As I read the compelling note, I was moved by how quickly good intent became something much less. In this scene two people were left in a blend of hurt, anger, disappointment and frustration when the general nature of both might have allowed something much more positively powerful to come through.

In my personal experiences I am frequently confronted by people who pass judgment on a situation too quickly. It almost always is hurtful, whether it is that they do not realize my blindness and take umbridge at the lack of shaking a proffered hand, or something more daunting like presuming limitations on my abilities and trying to inhibit me from living life normally. More often than not, all of the results could be readily avoided if all involved would keep a bit more of an open mind and use a better approach to education through inquiry and communication of all forms. So, all I am suggesting to you is that the next time something strikes you as wrong or problematic, take a moment to think a little outside your own viewpoint and try to gather more information to confirm the validity of your concerns before taking any action. The benefit of positive actions is too great to risk not supporting folks making such choices, and the benefit of thorough exploration before this is invaluable to ensuring all that energy is truly placed in the right direction.

My personal thanks to Suzanne who authored this note and reminded me the value of a “not so ordinary” ordinary person. The details of everyday life are rife with the potential for inspiration and we truly need only learn to look if we wish to see these marvels.

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