Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Acutely Aware, Chronically Oblivious - The Stupidity of Awareness

So today, December 1st, has been World AIDS Day. That’s exciting. My only question is how, exactly, does one celebrate or even observe World AIDS Day? I don’t think anyone got the day off work. If anyone was holding backyard barbecues, it seems unlikely that such an event was preceded by the invitation “Hey Joe, I’m having an AIDS barbecue and I wanted to invite you since you’re... you know, all AIDS-y and stuff. It might go on late so bring your meds.”

In researching the topic of the various “awareness days” (or weeks, months, whatever), I came across many fascinating situations of which someone, somewhere felt that the rest of the world should be made more keenly aware of. I’m sure that everyone with AIDS deeply appreciates having the spotlight on their disease, rather than their accomplishments or personalities. Likewise, how thrilling is it that on May 19 we have World Hepatitis Day? I'll drink to that... oh wait- sorry! If it makes you too depressed that you have hepatitis, perhaps you might want to wait till March 1 for National Self-Injury Awareness Day before you do anything rash. Is it just me, or does it seem to you that granting all the attention-whores who cut themselves an entire day to, well, pay attention to them, is ridiculously self-serving and manipulative? How darkly clever of them to get a whole national day devoted to their attention-seeking.

Having nearly any disease will get you your own day to be lavished with metaphorical, if not literal, attention. For instance, buy a gift for National Aplastic Anemia and MDS Awareness Week, perhaps a nice bottle of vitamins. Thise folks would likely do well by paying a little more attention to Folic Acid Awareness Week. Not to be left out are other conditions, such as World Cancer Day, Feb. 4 ("Hey Dad! Happy Cancer Day! Did they give you your free chemo today?"); World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14, (candy is an appropriate gift); Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Oct 13 (not to be confused with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also in October, or with the aforementioned World Cancer Day). Boobs do seem to get an inordinate amount of attention, don’t they? Fortunately, the men aren’t left out - they have Testicular Cancer Awareness Week (not a whole month like the girls get, and no ribbons but we do get a crappier website). And don’t forget that the voices inside your head are telling you to observe Schizophrenia Awareness Day on May 24. Observe it or “they” will kill you! (Not if you kill them first, right?)

In addition to the myriad of diseases, neuroses and general malaises that have days assigned to be nauseatingly aware of, there is no shortage of "awareness" time for just about every special-interest minority under the sun. November is Native American Awareness Month. The aged get May as Older Americans Month. I can totally get behind Better Speech and Hearing Month, also in May (GRANDMA! IT’S OLDER AMERICANS MONTH!” “What’s that, sonny?”) Convenient, eh?

February is Black History Month. March 8 is International Women’s Day. In June we observe Deaf-Blind Awareness Week (How does a blind person observe anything?) Latinos have their own month in April. Latinos with AIDS double-dip in awareness on Oct. 15 on Latinos with AIDS Awareness Day. Actually they triple-dip in April, Oct 15 and Dec 1. Even the homeless get their week to bask in the sun (since they can’t go inside, I guess) in November. And of course, every day you go to the store is Handicap Awareness Day, since they of the Holy Blue Stickers get the best parking spots.

In all the stuff that the rest of the world wants us to be aware of, among all the spotlights shining down on every disease, minority, ethnicity, infirmity and age, there is one awareness that is glaringly obvious by its absence. On what day is Average White Guys With Jobs And No Crippling Illnesses Day? I don’t ever remember seeing such a thing on the calendar. Isn’t it time that we got our own awareness day? Every day of the year is taken up with some observance of some group with some miserable story, whether they’ve been oppressed, sickened, molested, infected, neglected, used, abused, or otherwise hard-done by. Is it SO hard to have a little tribute to the Caucasians who go to work every day, support their families, don’t kick puppies or Hispanics, pay their taxes and cut the grass on weekends? Seriously, we don’t even need a whole month of awareness; a single day would be sufficient. You could even make it on Leap Day, Feb 29, which only comes every four years. It wouldn’t have to be a big huge national tickertape parade. All you’d need to do is say “Hey, there goes that white guy, off to work again, keeping the country going. Thanks, dude.”