There were so many ugly words used yesterday in response to Bill Cosby’s New York Post opinion piece. Without proper clarification, Cosby chose the words “juvenile diabetes” to describe the increase in type 2 diabetes among our nation’s children. Type 1 diabetes was formerly called juvenile diabetes so many were angered and outraged at what appeared to be Cosby’s lack of correct identification. If you read the full piece, it was clear the word “juvenile” was used to identify children and not the type of diabetes.
But instead of calmly and rationally explaining the difference and why the use of the word “juvenile” was misleading, we labeled him unfairly and called him atrocious names. Names I felt needed a disclaimer in this post so I chose not to include them.
Another blogger asked the perfect question: do we expect people to learn about diabetes on their own? Do we expect people to naturally know how many types there are, the causes and the correct treatment?
The hatefulness and anger in this community is astounding, and I see more and more of it on a regular basis. Every time someone says something incorrect — especially the media — we draw back our bows and aim for the throat. That’s not going to solve anything. Yelling and screaming do very little to educate people on the differences between the various types of diabetes. Any why would anyone want to listen if we’re berating them and calling them names?
The truth is, most people are familiar with type 2 diabetes because it’s more prevalent. Less than 10 percent of people with diabetes have type 1. That’s a fact. As big as this community is, it’s small in comparison. Of course people don’t know the differences and it’s our job to tell them, to show them and to explain. But we will continue to fall short if we keep name-calling and finger-pointing.
Of all the things I saw Bill Cosby called yesterday, hypocrite is about the only one that can hold some water. The man made a fortune pawning Jell-O, and his recent editorial called out parents for offering too much sugar and unhealthy diets to their children. But hypocritical or not, he’s right. Type 2 diabetes can be (and often is) attributed to lifestyle and behavior. Lack of exercise, high fat and high sugar diets (and a whole host of other things including genetics) play a part.
Regardless, I see a need for change in the way we correct and teach others abou the variations of diabetes. It’s easy to get mad because misinformation affects us personally. But if we don’t explain calmly and rationally, no one will ever learn. Diabetes is complicated, and I think a little patience and grace would go a long way in our advocacy efforts.
So maybe the next time we’re asked, “can you eat that?”, maybe we respond kindly with a few sentences explaining why we can. They’re probably not asking to be a smart aleck; they’re probably asking because they generally don’t know.