Celebrating Differences

In a status update on our Facebook page, I posted a quote form Arthur Helps (which I discovered through our Twitter feed– thank you disability.gov!):  “Wise sayings often fall on barren ground, but a kind word is never thrown away”.

I was going to use this as a stepping stone to get up on my soap box to remind one and all that it is often not our expertise, evidence based practice or academic platitudes that make the most difference to our patients, but our kindness and our understanding that has the biggest impact.

Then I went in search of Arthur Helps and discovered that Sir Arthur was educated at Eton and Cambridge, and served as Dean to the Privy Council during the reign of Queen Victoria. Then I discovered some more of his writings and had even more to think about.  In this political season and as many of us return to work after a summer break, these thoughts seem rather timely……

“In the first place, if people are to live happily together, they must not fancy, because they are thrown together now, that all their lives have been exactly similar up to the present time, that they started exactly alike, and that they are to be for the future of the same mind. A thorough conviction of the difference of men is the great thing to be assured of in social knowledge: it is to life what Newton’s law is to astronomy. Sometimes men have a knowledge of it with regard to the world in general: they do not expect the outer world to agree with them in all points, but are vexed at not being able to drive their own tastes and opinions into those they live with. Diversities distress them. They will not see that there are many forms of virtue and wisdom. Yet we might as well say, “Why all these stars; why this difference; why not all one star?”

“Many of the rules for people living together in peace, follow from the above. For instance, not to interfere unreasonably with others, not to ridicule their tastes, not to question and re-question their resolves, not to indulge in perpetual comment on their proceedings, and to delight in their having other pursuits than ours, are all based upon a thorough perception of the simple fact, that they are not we” (The Art of Living with Others, 1848).

They are not we.  I love that.  As people and professionals, we should embrace that.  All people have value.  All people are different.  We should celebrate those differences, seek common ground and work toward real solutions and optimal outcomes.  Forget platitiudes, name calling and blaming.  Of course, we must work from a sound knowledge base and within the scope of reality.  It would not be wise to embrace foolishness or danger, without recognizing and voicing the risks, but when we work diligently and cooperatively we can do great things.  Our actions and our kindness are what matters.  The rest is just “blah blah blah”.

About the author

Lisa Yauch-Cadden was born and raised in the Detroit, Michigan area. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Master’s in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Michigan. She has worked as an SLP in nearly all facets of the field: skilled nursing facilities, home care, acute care, transitional care, medical offices and schools. Throughout her career as a therapist, manager and business owner, Lisa has never strayed from providing direct line service, including state of the art evaluations using FEES/FEESST and MBS. While she needs no accolades to do her job, she is deserving of many. Her tireless efforts to advance the best clinical practices in Speech Language Pathology have changed lives for her patients, her clinical fellows, and those of us lucky enough to work with her on a regular basis. Contact Lisa at lycslp@gmail.com.…

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