GUEST COLUMN: To see or not to see

Visual disability has been an opportunity to grow

I can only imagine how frightened my mother and father must have been. The doctors informed them that their firstborn child, a daughter was completely blind due to a genetic condition called Cutaneous Albinism.

My father, a refugee, and my mother, a young girl, feared their daughter would not have the life they had hoped in their new country.

They feared not only for my health but also how society would see my disability. They had lived through much bleakness in Bosnia during World War II.

They knew indifference, judgement, and hatred firsthand.

They could see the compassion of doctors and staff at the hospital in Montreal and they had a strong faith.

It was the only way to survive.

As the days turned into weeks I gained strength and some vision. A miracle of sorts, I’m told.

Life was difficult for a girl with a disability.

I did not look like others and I certainly did not see like others. I started to see, it was not my inability to see well that held me back, it was the inability in others to see my ability.

Very often I was left behind because of indifference and judgement.

Most of the time, I did not communicate my needs. I thought it was a form of weakness.

Some of the time, I did and was met with confusion.

You see, it is easier to not deal with a problem than it is to solve one.

I did see the worst and best of people. I chose to see the worst experiences as an opportunity to grow.

I began to see the best experiences as a way to teach others to see the abilities in myself and other people with disabilities.

Over time I began to see things differently.

Moving to Summerland, I was filled with optimism and fear.

In this place I call home, I see beauty, compassion, and kindness.

It sounds so idealistic yet it is my reality.

Even when we disagree, I still see the best in our community. I can’t help myself.

The beauty is not only in the expansive vistas or the not anything like Alberta weather.

I witness the compassion and kindness every day in our volunteers, our citizens, and our business owners.

I see it in each one of you.

One thing I’ve learned, how well you see the world has less to do with human capabilities and more to do with perspective.

When your neighbour does not share your opinion, do you see an enemy or do you see another viewpoint?

When a business owner does not share your opinion, do you see a needed local product or service, or do you see an opportunity to condemn?

When you see me do you see a disability or do you see capable?

Some say a disability is a gift.

There are many days I do not see it that way.

I guess the gift is the opportunity for others to see beyond themselves and see into the eyes of the vulnerable, the young, the old, the broken, those that are alone and scared.

How can we support those that need to strive harder to achieve our normal?

How can we move past our differences to find practical solutions that will make the transformation possible for our community to succeed?

Why do we choose to see an adversary when we can choose to see another view?

I guess the question is, to see or not to see.

Mirjana Komljenovic is an active volunteer, a business woman and a wine lover.

Just Posted

Visiting Vees pound West Kelowna Warriors

The Vees got hat tricks from two players en route to an 11-3 win

‘Listen to your gut’ urges injured skier

Mike Shaw was told he’d never walk again after an accident four years ago, but he defied the odds

Small grass fire sparks in West Kelowna

Fire crews quickly douse blaze in ditch on Friday afternoon

Remembering road crash victims in Kelowna

World Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims takes place Sunday in Kelowna

Lines open for OSNS Share a Smile Telethon now underway

The 38th annual OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre telethon on

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Biosphere designation boosts national park drive

Certification outlines conservation as key part of sustainable tourism development

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

VIDEO: Tragically Hip members, Alex Trebek receive Order of Canada

Newest recipients join 6,897 Canadians such as Christine Sinclair, Graham Greene and Mark Messier

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young dies at 64

‘Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many.’

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Most Read