All things considered I am still a newbie in the blind and visually impaired community. Many people I’ve met and interact with regularly through How to be Blind have been blind most of their lives and quite often since birth. I’ve only been blind for just shy of four years, I’m still a baby!
It’s been fascinating to me to explore this new group of people who are unique in many ways. From how they pick their clothes to how they cook their meals, they mostly live completely normal lives, they just do it a little differently.
There are two big blindness organizations that have been around for decades that have members who view the other group like Red Socks fans and Yankee fans view each other. If you don’t know anything about baseball, it’s somewhat hostile.
Being the new guy and my usual happy self I dug into these groups to learn all that I could. Turns out they want much of the same things when it comes down to it but they want to go about it different ways. As a friend put it, they both want equality in society. One group meets and complains about it but doesn’t act and the other tries to force society to accept them any way they cam which often leads to the courtroom. Basically one group doesn’t really do anything and the other exists off of lawsuits. This difference makes collaboration nearly impossible.
Then I walk in the room trying to make everyone get along. You can imagine how that went. I put things very plainly and shared my opinion that it was dumb for two organizations who want the same results to fight and compete just because of a few differences in philosophy.
Well guess what, one group never responded and a few members of the other now have a very deep loathing for me. I’ve never had enemies before, it’s sort of exciting in a way! Why though? I suppose it’s because I disagreed with them.
Since losing my sight I’ve always done things like I always have. I don’t act different, I just can’t see. I still feel like me and thats it. Blind is a part of who I am. Part of my identity . It’s not what I am and it doesn’t define me. I have some very good friends that are blind but honestly I don’t fit in with the mainstream blind society very well. Too many feel entitled to things because they’re blind.
I’ve met people who are so absorbed with their blindness that they can hardly function in society without bringing attention to it.
I’ll even give you an example. There was a man and his guide dog kicked off a US Airways flight a few weeks ago and it’s been all over the news and he has taken every opportunity to bash US Airways in public. He says he was discriminated against and treated unfairly. In every article details are different and the investigation is still ongoing to figure out what really happened.
In the meantime though, there are emails flying all over the blind community from people all over the country demanding that the flight attendant whose actions are in question be fired. No second chance. She discriminated and now they want her gone. To them there isn’t even a question.
It’s fair to say it’s probably the minority that feels that way but just like every other aspect of life it’s the minority that make the most noise and raise the biggest fuss. There has ben so much arguing about this subject in the blind community that I delete every email that has anything to do with it now.
I was amazed at how some people immediately demand the flight attendant be fired. When was the last time you heard about a blind person and his dog being kicked off a flight? Good chance it’s never. This sort of thing doesn’t happen often and the type of people who are now talking about new laws they want to force airlines to change policy and set rules and guidelines are those exact people who can’t look past the fact that they are blind. It drives me crazy. This flight attendant handled things poorly and now people want her fired while at the same time we have politicians Tweeting pictures of their junk, cheating on their wives, and doing drugs who remain in office! What’s wrong with this picture?
If a person with sight gets mistreated at an airport or a store it’s just bad service. Maybe it will result in a complaint but that’s normally as far as it goes. When a blind person gets mistreated far too often the “discrimination” horn starts blowing and you can bet lawsuits aren’t far away.
When I have an issue traveling I don’t use the fact that I’m blind to try to get special compensation. I’ve had my share of issues. Heck, I’ve been left at the completely wrong gate before. Did I get on national TV and claim to be discriminated against? Not even close. I laughed about it, got to my real gate, and wrote a blog about it when I got home.
I reached out to the man who was kicked off the US Airways flight early on because I wanted to ask him a few questions. When he responded he said that he didn’t know what else he could say to me that he hadn’t already said to the reporters.
I explained that some of the stories said his dog was in the aisle and not between the seats. I also brought up the rumors of his lawsuit and asked if that was necessary since airlines have courses that staff often take where they learn how to deal with blind people and their guide dogs.
His insulting and angry response completely ignored my questions and he immediately took offense to my use of the word “deal”. He said that since I said “deal with blind people” I obviously have self esteem issues. Excuse me?
At that point I’ had ben doing nothing but reading articles about this guy which all said he got verbally abusive with the flight attendant and that’s why he got kicked off the flight. When I come to him asking for clarification he attacks me because I said “deal with blind people”?
I had to bite my tongue in my response. I calmly stated that he had no idea who I was or anything about me while I, after reading the articles and exchanging emails, had a pretty good idea of the type of person he is. This man is the sort of person who is defined by his blindness, It’s who he is, not just part of his identity. I didn’t expect to be attacked by him in email but after I was I lost all sympathy for the situation he had been in.
I don’t normally write like this, I prefer fun and happy topics, but this has been on my mind for some time. I’m sick of people who point to something that sets them apart from the masses then claim to be singled out because of it. Whether it’s race, religion. sexual preference, or a disability people are far too quick to say they’ve been mistreated because of it. If you want to be treated normally then act normal! How hard is that to understand?
How can I walk around and demand to be treated equally then park in the handicapped spot and pre board a flight? I can’t demand equality and take advantage of those sorts of benefits.
Fortunately for me, I don’t feel mistreated by society. I don’t feel like I’m not equal. Any issues I’ve had shopping and traveling haven’t been a result of the fact that I’m blind but rather the fact that sometimes people make mistakes and poor choices. It’s part of life! That being said, I’m more than happy to park in a handicapped spot thank you very much. Especially at a crowded place like sporting event or concert.
If you’re reading this and you’re disabled but feel like you aren’t being treated fairly then your next step should be to give back the government assistance, hand in your handicapped parking pass, and wait in line at Disney with everyone else.
Obviously there are exceptions. There is still racism, discrimination, and intolerance but in general people are just way to sensitive! Next time you feel mistreated just wrap the offender in a great big hug. Hold it for at least four seconds then let go and work on the problem. I’ll bet you’ll get better results doing that than you will if you yell and stomp your feet. Try it, and let me know how it goes.
Unfortunately this post will further alienate me in the blind community. There will be many who don’t agree with me and the ones who already don’t like me are most likely fuming mad right now. I’m perfectly ok with that. I believe what I believe and people can take it or leave it. Fortunately, those who I already count as friends in that community will perfectly understand this post and most likely agree.
I must say, I feel much better now that I got all of this out! Now I can go back to my normal cheerful self. If you don’t agree with this post or you’re one of those people who already don’t like me because of my non traditional viewpoint on blindness then let me know. Let’s hug it out then talk about it!
Thank you all for reading my blog! I appreciate all of you who have commented and shared thoughts of your own with me. Please feel free to share this post anywhere you’d like! Have a great Thanksgiving!