A Unified Front.
Tmana wrote a post on TuDiabetes today that hit home and hit hard. An excerpt:
"I am concerned that these different outlooks and interests could, rather than unite us in the common cause of improved quality of life and life expectancy for people with diabetes, cause public conflicts that could rob all of our communities of the resources needed to assist diabetics, both within our online communities and outside of them."
I agree with this whole-heartedly. While I'm an in-house editor at dLife, a member of several online communities like TuDiabetes, Diabetes Daily, a diabetes blogger here at SUM, and an active supporter of organizations like the JDRF, ADA, CWD, and DRI, these things all come second to why I'm doing this in the first place: I am a person with diabetes, a diabetic, a type 1, pancreatically-challenged ... whatever you want to call me, I have diabetes, first and foremost.
What I care about is improving my life, and our collective lives, as we live with diabetes. I want to see support communities do just that - SUPPORT. The very concept of different online groups pitting against one another is ridiculous. Aren't we all working towards the same common goal? To live long, healthy, and well-supported lives with diabetes? To see technological improvements? To see a cure, maybe in our lifetimes?
Everyone has different agendas and different goals - I understand that. But I also understand that diabetes is not a business to me. It's my life - our lives. And anything that can improve that life should be supported and encouraged, despite whether or not I'm a member or if I participate in a fundraising walk.
And while I understand the business aspect of different companies and organizations, I don't like the idea of division. I don't like the idea that three different places are working their tails off to cure this disease, but not sharing the data. I am not sure who crosses what communication lines, but I want to know that the JDRF, DRI, and other research hubs are sharing their theories on curing this disease. That is happening, right? We're all working together to cure this, right? There are so many different diabetes organizations, but where is our unified front?
In her post, tmana said that she didn't want different communities to assimilate in efforts to "merely to present a united front to the high-priced resources and partners," and I agree with that completely. This disease is unique to each diabetic and their loved ones, and the various communities and organizations reflect that. But I want the diabetes communities to mature and embrace one another instead of ostracizing and battling. It sounds altruistic, but we're not talking about t-shirts here. This is about a disease, a serious one, that we live with every day. And while we rally behind all these different organizations, we need to remember - never, ever forget this - that we are really rallying behind one another as a community of diabetics, regardless of whose newsletter we receive or whose network we have a username in.
The "industry" of diabetes continues to grow, especially as more and more people are diagnosed every day. But we can't lose sight of the most important aspect of these communities and organizations: Support. And I value the support I get from you guys here on the blog, outside in your blogs, in-person at dinners and events, and all over the internet and the Real World as a whole.
We are all living with diabetes. Standing together does far more than walking alone.