[Nfbmo] How to deal with well-intentioned sighted folks?
dangarcia3 at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 30 01:41:34 UTC 2015
I think you hit the nail on the head here. Parents do feel guilty about
their children being disabled and feel powerless to do anything.
I guess the serenity prayer comes to mind here.
From: Nfbmo [mailto:nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Gary Wunder via
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2015 9:16 AM
To: 'NFB of Missouri Mailing List'
Cc: Gary Wunder
Subject: Re: [Nfbmo] How to deal with well-intentioned sighted folks?
Hello, Daniel. Lots of folks have already made good comments to you, so I
doubt that what I have will add much to the discussion. Even so, it trips a
trigger in me, so here goes:
For as long as I can remember people have been coming to me with articles
about the restoration of vision. When I was a young child I got this all the
time, and it was the primary reason people believe that I would be able to
drive by the time I was sixteen and could enter the business that my father
used to make a living. I could be a heavy machine operator; I could run a
farm tractor; I would be able to own my own business in the same way my
father did, and I was going to make a lot of money. Of course, there was the
possibility that I would go a completely different direction: I might be an
astronaut, one of the first to help colonize the moon. All of this depended
on site, and every article that came out seemed to suggest that a
breakthrough was right around the corner.
By the time I got into my teens, I realized that there was a certain
rapidity to these articles and that what was more important was that I learn
to live as a blind person. If some cure came along (if the cure was really
what I needed), I would evaluate it, but I reconciled myself to the fact
that I was going to be blind for the rest of my life. That blindness offered
some disadvantages - I wouldn't be driving any of that equipment right away,
but there was a life out there, an education, and a chance to compete in the
I wouldn't be too hard on myself if I were you. Educating family is very
difficult. The things that my family remember most about me were back in the
time when I was most dependent. My family hated the fact that I got a cane.
They called it that damned stick because it's mere presence hinted at the
fact that I would go from being a blind child or a child somewhat heart of
seeing into a blind adult, a blind man, a term that generated a certain
amount of fear. But that stick came along and it gave me all kinds of
independence, and eventually my family began to see that it was worthwhile.
Get that thing out of the way when taking a picture, but I guess it does
some good for him.
I remember watching a situation comedy called Rhoda in which she makes the
comment that she is afraid to go home and spend the night because her mother
babies her so much she's afraid she'd wake up in diapers. That is an extreme
line from a situation comedy, but I think there's something to it. When I go
back home, my family wants to protect me. I realize they are watching all
the time when I reach for a drinking glass that should be to the upper right
of my plate and three people ask what I'm looking for. God forbid I
misplaced the knife. But, all of this is done in love. So, what do you do: I
think you realize that you educate where you can, tolerate when you must,
and realize that these people love you.
As a concluding thought, not too long ago Debbie's mother told her that she
prayed every day that Debbie would have her sight restored. Debbie has been
blind since birth, and in the last five years she lost what little remaining
vision she had. I won't tell you how old she is, but she's about the same
age I am, and I'm sixty years old. Now imagine someone praying every day of
their life for the return of vision, and you see that our family never
really gets reconciled to the fact that we don't see.
I thought that perhaps Debbie's mother represented an extreme exception ,
but I asked my father how he felt about my being blind, and he said, "you
know, I still feel guilty about it." It seems that the day before my birth,
he and my mother were playing basketball, he believes he threw the ball too
high, she jumped to catch it, and the doctors told them that this was
probably what caused me to be born three months too early. Now how can he
feels sorry for me? I live in a fine house, have a good paying job, have a
family who loves me, am involved in all kinds of community activities, fly
around the country more than some flight attendants, and generally have a
very happy life. Still, I think my family believes that I am missing
something significant by not being able to see, and they are saddened by the
fact that nothing they can do will change this.
I said I was going to wrap this up, and indeed I am, right after one last
thought. Sometimes I get angry with my family when we have discussions about
politics and they tell me that my views which differ from theirs come from
the fact that I simply cannot see what's going on around me. If I tell them
that I do not think race is as important as economics in how well people fit
into society, they tell me it is because I can't see what is plainly out
there. If I try to tell them that the welfare system is time-limited, they
tell me that I just can't see the fancy cars those people drive. Well, if
you talk with people who are absolutely convinced that vision is the most
important part of perception and understanding, there is little to talk
about. At some point you either decide to yell at them and go your own way
or to love them. We are all told that it is important as Christians that we
learn to love unconditionally, and maybe the people who love us most
actually give us this opportunity.
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