Blind In A War Zone


Blind In A War Zone

Dear Journal; May 26, 26, 2002

(Only My Most Private Thoughts Go Here)

it just hit me, call me slow, but... I just realized that I now live in a war zone. I feel uncertain about something’s because of it. Herein I will quickly key in a rough draft of what is bothering me, start a list of the potential events which may happen to me and begin the process to figure out what I need to do.

Fact: There are people around who are attacking our country and it could be me in the next breath.

Here are some events I am thinking about:

I and those around me could be harmed and even killed.

I could lose my home and become a refugee.

The fibers that hold our community together weaken and break.

The economy could fall apart.

Transportation for all could become very difficult.

I could lose my job.

Lawlessness could exist in the land.

Slavery could happen again.

Rape of the weak would happen.

Starvation may happen.

the disabled may find it harder to compete.

Sickness, disease, pestilence all could happen.

I or my child could become orphaned.

I could become further disabled.

I may need to fight, kill someone.

There could be an atomic attack.

There could be a biogenic device type of attack.

what would it be like to live in a world that is poisoned?

I could save someone’s life, become a hero.

I could help bring peace to the land.

This world could become very inhospitable to blind youth.

All this stresses me, makes me think about what I would need to do as a blind person to survive in a war zone that becomes hot. So, what are my feelings about this? What am I willing to do about it? Am I over reacting?

e-mail responses to

**1. “Reading about your concerns remembering my family grand parents and cousins talking about both world wars. I remember them saying Could have, would have! can't cross that bridge until you come to it! What will be will be I never really understood all the dire predictions at that time as I was a child. There was the lady who walked around wearing a sign predicting the end of the world was coming. We can and do stress ourselves out, not enjoying the here and now because of what might be. If those things ever happen to you will Handel it the optimum word is "if!" In the mean time live in the here and now if you don't you have let the terrorists beat you by giving them control of your life!””

Diane Dobson (Victoria, British Colombia Canada)

**2. “I, personally, do not get real hung up on fear-based stuff and the "what ifs," of the world. One can only deal with the present. The past is over and the future is unknown. Whether it's a certainty or not depends on how we deal with it, but you can cot the chickens before they hatch. You could drive yourself crazy if you watch the news, so do something else! Play some good music, read a fantasy novel--something happy, different,--whatever gets your thoughts away from fear and future stuff that you can't deal with till it gets here!!

Now, I am by know means, advocating sticking your head in the sand by suggesting that you do these things to get you back to the present, or out of the fear-thinking matter. Oh no! I simply think that nothing
ever gets accomplished when we are afraid and confused. So when you are relaxed and thinking rationally again, you can then form a plan as to what would be the practical thing to do if......happened. None of us are ever one hundred per cent prepared for a disaster, and I imagine that those at the Trade Center on September 11th were not thinking much about air planes flying into those towers, yet when it happened, they dealt with it. Maybe it wasn't perfect, and of course we know they did not all survive, yet enough did because they kept their cool, did what they could and managed to escape.

I don't think anyone can totally predict how we would react to any kind of disaster--there are too many variables--nuclear? where, if China, that's on the other side of the world from me, but the media would tell us, so we would prepare to do what we needed to do before the fallout happened. Well what about the terrorist? We gotta wait till they do whatever they'll do--we don't know when, where, or if, so how could you even think of what to do when you don't have sufficient information? So nothing's going to get solved about that one till it happens-whatever it is!!

That is a big reason that I only read or listen to news once per day,
and then only for thirty minutes.

I got way too caught up in the Oklahoma bombing to do that again!! I couldn't sleep, I cried a lot, etc. etc. then one day I said "what in
hell are you doing?" This didn't happen to you, you gave your gift to
the red cross, you can't bring anyone back, and you can't help if you
are driving yourself nuts! So stop it!! I literally made myself turn off
the TV.

I am sorry this is so long, but you asked for it!!!
I am leaving my full signature in here also. Do what you will with this

Hope this helped you some.”

Phyllis Stevens (USA)

**3. “Unfortunately I think that many blind people probably wouldn't survive in that type of situation unless they had sighted family and/or friends nearby to
help them. This is because many either have additional disabilities that are significant enough to make them very vulnerable, or they generally have very
poor basic skills. Those blind people who function as well as, or at least nearly as well as, the average sighted person, will probably have at least nearly
the same chance of survival as the average sighted person. It would be very important for the blind person to be familiar with the area and have the skills
to quickly figure out any unfamiliar areas he/she may end up in because he/she will probably have to move around a lot to avoid dangerous areas and find
basic necessities. He/she would need to be able to move quickly but carefully and quietly to, and be able to find hiding places and different ways to get
where he/she needs to go in order to avoid or escape attackers. If attacked, he/she would need to be able to figure out where the attackers were and be
willing and able to fight in order to have much of a chance. This would probably be "every man/woman for himself/herself" kind of world. Those blind people
who are used to relying on others to be kind and help and take care of them a lot will find themselves abandoned or worse most likely. Although there probably
still be those who would help, these kind of situations can really bring out the worst in people especially when there are limited resources. Also I suspect
that many will look at blind people as useless burdens to be disposed of, especially those who tend to be more dependent. Those blind people who have better
skills and are more used to dealing with harsh realities of life, just might be OK.”

Anitra Webber (Salt Lake City Utah USA)

**4. “I live in the Los Angeles area and work downtown in one of the high-rise buildings on the 43rd floor. After 9/11 our building received bomb threats. During these bomb threats we had to evacuate the building, sometimes having to walk down 43 flights of stairs. Not only did I have to deal with the fear of a bomb threat, I had to maneuver through 100s of people. When people are frightened politeness and courtesy isn't always there. During this time we would
have maybe four or five bomb threats a week, sometimes two or three during one day. I realized that "fear" was the issue I had to deal with. Not so much the logistics of keeping myself safe. I planned ahead for that. I made sure I knew where the exits were and how to get to the area where we checked in. The law firm where I worked assigned "floor wardens" to help me if I needed them. However, no one could help me with dealing with the fear. One day we had a bomb threat at 10:00 a.m and 1:30 p.m., I got stuck in an elevator alone for 30 minutes at 3:00 p.m., and then on the way home (I ride the subway), there was a bomb threat in the subway and I didn't have a way to get home. All this happened in the same day. I found a bench that was basically a safe place and just sat down. I reviewed in my mind how the other people around me reacted during the bomb threats. Quite a few of them panicked and were hysterical. Some quit work and went home. I suddenly realized that everyone has to deal with fear during these types of situations. What made me different is that I deal with fearful situations each day. I realized that because I had been dealing with fear while going through my adjustment and commuting to work in many situations, it was always there. What brought on the fear might change, the degree of the fear might change, but fear is in my life on a day-to-day basis. I realized that I had developed "tools" on how to handle my fear and to look for solutions to my problems instead of just letting it overwhelm me. I realized that I had tools other people didn't develop because they never had to deal with the things that I had to deal with. As I
sat on that bench I realized that I would deal with whatever came my way. I remembered going through my divorce, raising my two sons alone, nursing my father through cancer, having a son who developed RP also, and then my own adjustment. I had survived many challenges in my life and I would continue
to survive. I realized that I was afraid of the unknown. I realized that one way to deal with fear is to remain in present time. To deal with the situations that are here now and not to worry about "what if". That day I let quite a bit of my fear go. I called my fiancé (who was out of town on business) just to hear his voice. Just by chance, he had come home a day earlier and was just getting off the airplane. I waited on that bench for an hour and a half
for him to pick me up. During that time, I focused on the blessings in my life instead of the "what ifs". I have learned to prepare myself as best I can, but to let go of what I can't. People tell me all the time that I am so brave for continuing to work and to create my life around my vision loss in a positive way. I tell them that I can do this because I believe that our experiences are given to us for us to learn something from them and that is all they are there for. Not to burden or punish us. Our life experience helps us to grow and to become more because of our experiences. It is our
choice whether to be negative and feel sorry for ourselves, or to be positive and to make choices that creates a full life no matter what is brought to us.”

Sandra Oliveira (California USA)

**5. “Well, I can definitely relate to this provoker. If I focus on it too much, I find I get uptight and panicky. I'm glad we'll have a chance to discuss things and maybe we can all find some small comfort in each others' words.

On most days, I am a very positive-thinking individual - the glass is half full and all that. However, in the past few weeks with Pakistan & India getting pretty hot, I've had my share of disturbing dreams. Do any of you remember having to have your parents sign a permission slip to allow you to watch "The Day After" - the aftermath of a nuclear bomb dropped on Kansas where, at the end, we are shown the birth of a still-born? That movie evoked a very strong reaction then and the prospect of nuclear war between Pakistan & India evokes an even stronger reaction now. I shutter just thinking about what ramifications will come of such a powerful and poisonous attack. It is no small comfort to realize there'll be a lot more disabled out there suffering from the effects of radiation poisoning. But I digress...

We need to deal with the here and now...not the what might be...

My heart goes out to all those in NY who've put their time into cleaning up after the 9/11 attack. The "clean-up" for those who survived and were injured by falling debris, etc. will be just as long if not longer, perhaps for the rest of their lives. They are dealing with all the issues we have dealt with for most of or all of our lives. They are truly in a war zone, fighting to put their lives back together - finding work, supporting their loved ones who - until 9/11 - relied on them to keep them afloat financial and emotionally. Then, there's those whose loved ones never returned... But, again, I digress...

Those of us who have not been directly affected by 9/11's attacks do need to be acknowledged as well. As a result of the destabilization of our economy, many able-bodied workers have been let go and, now the market is saturated. You think it was hard to find employment before for us? Now, we're competing against a lot more individuals. Companies don't want to put extra money into the hiring of a disabled worker in these tough times if they can hire a "normal" individual with no risk of on-the-job complications. State agencies are being hard hit by financial cut-backs which means a lot less funding is available for these agencies to buy our adaptive technology so we can even try to fit into the average workplace. Companies who furnish para-transit aren't immune, especially if they are receiving subsidies from government agencies. I do not use para-transit, but I sympathize with this who need to get to work and find they are more often than not late because their ride couldn't show up on time do to a shortage of drivers or vehicles breaking down. I'm sure this
is already a familiar scenario, but how much worse has it gotten since 9/11?

Have any of you tried to travel by bus since 9/11? I ended up not being able to see my mother for Mom's Day because the people at Greyhound & Peter Pan didn't know their Disability travel policies. Apparently, they'd been changed since 9/11, but nobody seemed to know what they'd been changed to. Heck, I even had trouble getting back home and the bus was delayed 15 minutes in Hartford, CT because they *still* didn't have their story right at the ticket
counter. I can only imagine what the trains and airports are like. Have any of you had the pleasure of being asked to leave your cane in the tray to be X-rayed at the airport? I think, though a short distance to walk forward, that's a bit excessive. What, am I going to hide a bomb in it? I won't even go into the absurd list of things you couldn't even bring along with you on vacation. How the heck is a disabled person going to be able to get basic things like razor blades in a place they are unfamiliar with? They don't want
to spend their vacation locating convenience stores. They're on vacation to have fun.

I know our government is trying to keep us aware of potential threats (don't get me started on their inability to do so prior to 9/11), but I'm not about to climb into a hole and cringe in fear. If a bomb is going to be dropped or a building is going to topple and I'm meant to leave this world, then so be it. sure, having a disability complicates my life whether or not we're in a war zone, but I'm going to live it to its fullest, terrorists be damned. They are
more disadvantaged than you or I could ever be.”

-Shelley (Brighton, Massachusetts USA)

**6. “>All this stresses me, makes me think about what I would need to do as a blind person to >survive in a war zone that becomes hot. So, what are my feelings about this? What am I >willing to do about it? Am I over reacting?

Wow, this is really a very deep thought provoker. I would think that since 9/11 here in the United States, some of these thoughts have crossed our minds. Being blind/visually impaired complicates things even more. We are vulnerable.

Life is uncertain, no matter what your situation is. Living in a War Zone is so unsettling for everyone, especially the weak, since they are prime targets for those who would make themselves feel superior by preying on these people. There are some common sense things that we could do to help prevent getting in bad situations, but sometimes there is nothing we can do...and that is where the hopeless feelings start to crowd our thought life. Mental protection is the best weapon we can have, like those who have
been tortured during wars before us. I would try to build up my mental health and strength to cope with the devastation and physical attacks on my person and those that I love. Survival is something we can't really say for we would do it, until it happens to us. How far would we go to protect someone or something? When actually in that situation, we draw on
strength we never knew we had....or we just fold under the pressure. I prefer to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. Pray!”

Joyce Pratt (New Jersey, USA)

**7. “It is probably not wise for people outside the U.S.A. to comment in a real meaningful way about this Topic, because we are not there and have not had that experience. However I feel some general observations may be helpful.

The comments seem to be rather negative and are focused on "what if" this or that happens. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, "I worried about thousands of things in my life time, and you know, one or two actually happened.".
You see slavery still
exists in the USA as it does in other places. So does homelessness, poverty, indifference, racism, prejudice, greed and hatred. All this happens in peace time, war time and terrorist attack.
Let us all resolve to make our part of the world a better place to live in than it was yesterday. It doesn't take much to smile at some one as you walk down the street. It doesn't take much to talk on the phone to the person in a Call Center in a polite and courteous way. If someone has a better day as a result of making contact with you, we all benefit. Develop a love for who you are and the people around you and watch the whole world change.
Have a happy day,”

Alan and Gail McClintock (Tropical, North Queensland Australia)

FROM ME: “I can see anyone, from any location who might be blind or work with the blind or have family who is blind writing in and giving their perspective for where it is they live. Granted, here in the US we do not have tanks rumbling down our streets or foreign troops knocking on our doors, but there are some around the world who do and that can talk to us, teach us.”

**8. “When I was in high school, we were asked to write about a fictional situation involving several people wishing to take shelter from an impending atomic
attack. The bomb shelter was not large enough to hold all of the characters. We were supposed to decide who would live and who would die by not being
allowed to enter the refuge. I first picked the character most like myself. A young girl who had read a great deal, handled children well and could sing
and entertain with stories from her reading. I started my list of survivors with the people who would be of most use to the group like the doctor. When
I eliminated myself, my teacher thought I was being morbid. I don't think I was. I guess I'm a pragmatist. I value my life but not at the sacrifice
of another's. I would certainly do my best to survive and deal with whatever happens but don't see any reason to be paranoid or borrow trouble in advance.
I am not a quitter and refuse to give in easily but can accept that no one lives forever and all anyone can do is their best in any given situation.”

DeAnna Noriega (Colorado USA)

**9. “When it comes to each person for themselves, then the disabled will disappear. A full bodied attacker would have the advantage, there would be little chance to get around that. I think some times the trooper will pity a disabled person, but sometimes they are told “no prisoners.” Otherwise, in a war ravaged countryside competition is tough and even though the leak are not being shot, they find it hard to win out over a able bodied person. Where can a blind man run? Even in the dark (if it is really that dark enough) the blind can’t always hide. But if it all gets this bad, we can try and we must have all our skills ready. Even we must find out what else we can use for a cane if our fiberglass one gets broke. We would have to bargain services for food or the other way around. Jobs would be few and the employer would pick the strongest or best and will not be able to accommodate a blind person. The government wouldn’t be able to help much either. Just look back into history when our societies were not very cultured and easy, then the blind and other disabled didn’t get out much and do much either. But now we know more and for a while we could do better than our ancestors.”

Ron Messer (USA)

**10. “ As y2k was looming, some of these thoughts floated through my mind as well. Take out electricity, or make it sporadic, wipe out computers with an electromagnetic pulse. Now I'm back to blindness being a disability that is more than a series of minor inconveniences. With all that, suddenly employment is exquisitely
difficult. No computer; no telephone that is reliable; no reliable source of power even for those things that entertain me to fill the hours. So, how is that different from the 30s? First, there is a social contract called the ADA which provides some comfort, until it is removed from both state and federal law in an instinctive passion to cut costs. But, there is a glimmer of "doing the right thing" among our society that would stand at least those alive today in good stead.
If the economy were in complete melt down, life style would change, livelihood would change, but I wouldn't change. My dedication to full participation in my world would remain the same. Sprinkle a few mines around, then maybe my full participation changes. what would it be like to live in an Afghanistan environment where even sighted people are stepping on mines day in and day out.

first, can I invent a product or service that the neighbor needs? Sure. I can garden, weed, water vegetables, raise a chicken or two, maybe a goat, sheep, or the like as a blind person. I can tell a ripe tomato or squash by feel. And the person down the block will want to eat. So, I have food, something to occupy much of my time, and a source of product to exchange for other goods and services I need. I can also care for the children of those nearby who need the freedom to chase dollars in other locations -- the market, the fields, other shops, etc. So, again, I have the ability to fill my time, exchange
labor for food. And sheer survival tasks without the luxury of our electrical servants takes way more time -- cooking, washing, travel, etc. With the onset of secondary disabilities, some of these things become more difficult -- bad back, arthritis, etc. But in the survival societies, those with limitations find niches to fill, if they have the will and the tolerance of their family, friends and neighbors.
As I think about the child born blind in a 3rd world nation, there is clearly a difference between my opportunity that would exist if Salem, Oregon became a 3rd world environment, and that of the child or adult who became blind in Russia, Columbia or India. I have attitudes, life experiences and expectations
that would form a foundation for what anyone would call a successful life. So at least as long as I would live, I would have a plentiful life.
If a shooting war came through Salem, leaving behind its catastrophe of hurt people -- not just physically but mentally -- the powerful skills and attitudes I carry would have immense value to this society. That brings with it the possibility of forming powerful bonds of collaboration and interdependence with those who suddenly find themselves as "one of the less fortunates". And, I guess it's probably true that those of us who are also dependent on medical services for survival due to diabetes, glaucoma, etc., would be among
those who might be more vulnerable from a pure survival perspective. That thought along with the notion of the dangers that come with a true war zone with unexploded ordinance makes it possible that I or my blind friends may be among casualties. We die. We die earlier than might have been if ... what? We hadn't been born with odd eyes, odd glands, odd hearts, kidneys? any of us who are nearing 50 are living on borrowed time based on the longevity of Americans in 1900. If one takes that perspective, or the one that in
Africa, us males over 35 are old men, then whatever life we have must be made as productive, joyful and meaningful as possible.
Take away my talking computer, my recorded books, my taxi, my business based on the ADA, and I'm not happy having to make adjustments, but, I'm damned happy to have the opportunity to plant another row of potatoes, collect the eggs from my hens, start a fire, roast some garlic, potatoes, onions, toss an egg in
a pot to boil, and let me touch the hand of my wife, my friend and/or my neighbor -- I'm at peace. No Alaskan cruise? No journey to the snow for cross-country skiing? But, good food, good friends, good life!”

Davey Hulse (Salem, Oregon USA

**12. “Just got off the phone about 45 minutes ago with my older brother. I brought up the subject about uneasiness with the guerilla warfare that has come to our country and the general malaise that I sometimes feel. Then I check out my e-mail and your provoker alert was there with a new listing. My brother reminded me of the atomic bomb shelters that were being built when we were kids, the drills where we had to get under the desks as if there were a nuclear
attack. He got drafted, sent to Vietnam, saw heavy action. Reminded me of the Cuban missile crisis, JFK being shot (we were having lunch in the multi-purpose room in junior high school at the time) so his message to me is that it has been around for awhile. Only not so in your face. It seems that we must stay organized, in touch in our communities, and keep the fabric of this country strong on all fronts. What scares me is witnessing
the Bosnia debacle and the way the society just fell apart and the carnage began. It is the stuff nightmares are made of. Especially the chemical or biological stuff. Atomic blast is instant, good night forever. The invasion of our country by armies and biological warfare is a creeping in kind of threat. Economic collapse is a prolonged misery with unknown results. Protecting our society from without and within is what we are trying to do in this
modern world. No guarantees with the skyrocketing crime and violence. What I believe is this, that together we stand strong. In all areas. We watch out for each other, we band together to fight if we must or do what we can to preserve freedom and security. Remember the Navajo code talkers who used their language to send code to keep our armies safer. Perhaps that
same sort of thing will keep the bond in this modern day of terrorism. We can only hope that getting a dialogue going is the first avenue of dealing with it.”

Suzanne Lange Braille Interpreter
(Chico, California USA)

FROM ME: “How can we the blind assist in getting a dialogue going?”

**13. “I think these are very realistic thoughts and it would be a case of survival of the fittest. As there is no way anyone could prepare for or anticipate their reaction.

There are many people who live in India who have eye disease and it is worrying as these people will be mostly because of their rural location dependant on family, what happens to these people if their family are killed? I don't know.

From a rehabilitation perspective I would suggest that if someone used a guide dog as their main mobility aid then it might be an idea to keep up with cane skills incase anything happens to the dog. I think there are advantages in visually impaired people attending courses at least one time in their lives relating to personal survival but the logistics of this are most likely impossible.

Best wishes”

Jayne Connor (High Harrington, Cumbria England)

FROM ME: “Getting and keeping your personal travel skills sharp. In the best of times or in the worst of times... which might be more important or are they the same?”

**14. “After September 11, I guess I just try not to think about what would happen because each time I do start thinking along those lines it really scares me to much, so I just don't think about it. If something terrible happens, then I'll give it consideration and decide what to do about it when something does happen.
If I didn't do that, I couldn't enjoy life and I think that's really important.”

Nicola Stow (New South Wales, Australia)

FROM ME: “Right, can’t let these worries rule your actions, but are there precautions we can take? In our home? At work? In travel?”

**15 “>

What crossed my head on reading this was the experience of a friend in World War II. Granted, she wasn't blind, but she was a child, maybe 3 or 4 at the time. At great risk to themselves, a neighbor took her and her parents in
and hid them in the cellar. There wasn't much food, and there was definitely a lot of fear, but the people did not react "every man for himself." Not at
all. I expect that the reactions of people under this kind of pressure will vary with the person. Some will be brave, some will be cowardly. Just being scared doesn't mean a person will abandon all others.”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

**16. “All this stresses me, makes me think about what I would need to do as a blind person to survive in a war zone that becomes hot. So, what are my feelings about this? What am I willing to do about it? Am I over reacting?"

The questions above are an excellent place to start when thinking over a situation as serious as this one has become. We have indeed been threatened in more ways than we realize, from our local water supplies to our own homes (those living in apartment complexes) to our places of employment. Yes, we could lose our homes to the war zone that we find ourselves living in now. Some of us could see our freedom to come and go if we lose the transportation we all depend on to make us independent as blind people.

An important fact for me is the fact that those I love could be harmed
or even killed. My family lives all around the country now, most of
them in this part of the country. As some of you know, my husband
Donovan moved to St. Petersburg, Florida the first part of February to
work for Freedom Scientific as a Technical Support Representative, so he's been gone for quite some time. My parents and one of my sisters live in western Wyoming. My youngest sister lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. I live in Laramie, Wyoming in a mobile home that Donovan and I are purchasing. Like many of you out there, I do worry the most about the people I love. I find myself asking "What will become of them since I can't be with them?"

What we need to remember is that people in other parts of the world
already live with this. It has happened to them and they're already
coping with losses of homes, loved ones, their lives! Again, do we look at the glass as being half empty of half full here? I choose to think of the glass as being half full myself and count the blessings that I do have. I realize how "Polyannish" this sounds, but I'll do what I can to live each day to the fullest and try not to stress myself thinking of all that could go wrong when there is so much in our lives that are right, and not take all this for granted.”

Bonnie Ainsworth (Laramie, Wyoming USA)

FROM ME: “Question- This lady is American Indian in descent. Her people recently lost their dominance of their country and had their culture tipped over on its edge. And her people aren’t the most recent to lose their place. So, from you, what does it feel like?”

**17. “There are some people out there who would take power for themselves if they had the chance. There are some bullies out there. If Societal rules go south, there will be many communities who will keep order and will continue with something very much like what was once the norm. As to which will happen for you, it depends upon who you associate with and what personal skills, confidences and resources you can accumulate; no matter if you are sighted or blind. It is obvious that if a blind person does not have the basic survival skills of travel, cooking (possible via burning wood), some work skills not requiring high tech support, good social skills for cooperation with others and more, that they will be isolated and not happy.”

Will V. (USA)

FROM ME: “Might this whole topic be seen in this light, make a person think along the lines of how it is we are encouraged to approach the topics of... A. The firemen say to us, learn how to react if you find yourselves in a fire. B. The policemen says to us, learn how to not become a victim of crime by doing these things... C. The medical doctor says to do these things and not these other things if you wish to foster good health and sustain it. D. My parents and school teachers also taught me how to think and to cross a street safely. So with the mind set of ‘being aware of the real-life conditions in which I live’ in mind, I become more aware of the world around me in which I need to function and I learn what I need to function and succeed, if not be happy.”

**18. “For those who worry about life becoming impossible for yourself as a blind person in an America without electricity, please read Dr. Jernigan's 1973 banquet
essay, BLINDNESS, IS HISTORY AGAINST US? --some blind persons persevered and did well in the past, but our modern history books do not tell us about them.
To know of them, you have to read history recorded by blind persons. My favorite historical blind guy is Blind Jack of Knarlesborough who built roads across 3 counties of England in the time period of our George Washington; eloped with his wife, an inn keeper's daughter, one day before she was to marry a rich man her parents wanted her to marry; served as recruiting officer and sergeant during one of the wars with Scotland; won horse races with himself as jockey; ran a goods cartage business by leading a string of loaded horses himself from pickup point to where he sold the goods; and lots more interesting ways to earn a living before electricity. The essay is available for free in Braille, on cassette, in print, and on
[Follow from Site map to Literature, Table of Contents, Banquet Speech, "Blindness: Is History Against Us?"]. Or zoom to:

Lorraine Rovig (Baltimore Maryland USA)

**19. “whimsical as this may sound I am submitting it regardless. when one meets a person carrying a placard saying the world will end tomorrow say to the person I bet you that it will not. I bet a million dollars that the world will not end tomorrow. if the placard toting person of gloom wins the bet how will the person collect million dollar? anxiety about terrorist and your situation is less productive going on with your life. anxiety is found the future which
has not arrived. projections about what could happen is not useless but, what can any of us do? this includes both blind and sighted persons. with feeble effort to add credibility to the above I would like say that I am a Viet Nam era military veteran. I served as a military police officer. end of my rambling. take care.”

Joel cosby (Alexandria, Virginia USA)

**20. ”The blind would have to do as all others have to do in a crisis, survive. If you really think you will get into a situation where you can not go off to work and continue earning your way and if you can’t pay for what you need, then you best have food stuff and water and other things too. If the times get tough you better be ready to hunker down with the best of them. If you are blind you better have your independent skills up to snuff; good cane, good cooking and cleaning, self defense.”

Marvin T. (USA)

**21. “I am really glad you sent this one out; I hadn't gotten to your site yet. I intend to one of these days; was there way back when it was new.

I have had all kinds of thoughts since the 9-11 attack on our country and its people and its belief systems and all. I know it affected all of us in some way or another, and blindness-related concerns cannot help but come up. I remember when I was young, being told about the possibility of The Cold War becoming a nuclear war, and how we went through this tunnel to a small room in the bowels of our old, fire trap of a school building. I remember better the shelter in the new dormitory, as they sent us there during a tornado. I remember it was downstairs off from the large room next to the kitchen, near the walk in refrigerator. I was afraid of the refrigerator, fearing getting locked in and freezing to death. Going Down the stairs into this area with a rough, nubby, yellowish, unfinished wall-covering cast, gave me the creeps. It was spooky. I wondered if we were stuck down there for a long time, if that dull, scratchy yellow everywhere would become sickening. However, I was glad the safe place was there and
I knew where it was. Given the odd behavior we've seen on the part of the airlines, the Government, and others in the past, in dealing with us in the face of dangers, I don't imagine we would be treated with much positive regard if a nuclear war hit us. Who knows what kinds of rules they might force on those who would survive; and some surely would. Some blind persons might save someone's lives.
I have even remembered when my daughter was young, she got really concerned about the Jews being killed by the Nazis. One of her friends was Jewish and
she knew that they had lost loved ones in World War II. She went so far as to spend some time at the Jewish Library n Omaha, and did one of her term papers
on the Holocaust. In eighth grade, she was one who had the privilege of a trip to Washington, D.C., with other eight-graders in the country. One of the places she visited was the Holocaust Museum.
She brought home the movie "Schindler's List," which was so sad. It was quite visual and I didn't follow some of it and my daughter was silent during most of it. I knew it had stricken her.
Well, we talked about it now and then. I remember saying "Well, if Hitler could single out Jews for no good reason to get rid of them, considering them inferior, it is not out of the realm of possibility for some psychotic maniac to decide that people with disabilities should be gotten rid of as inferior to the Race." She was silent. It is not past her level of intelligence to have already come to that terrifying conclusion, about her own parents, her
aunt, her uncle, their friends----and yes, possibly her own children some day! I told her that I hoped it was never to happen and only a scary script for a horror movie. But it sure is too close, especially when one considers how totally unreasonable some people generally are when dealing with people of disabilities in general, and blind people particularly, as if that's the worst
of all!! When you consider the cloning issue and Dr. Peter Singer's wanting to use cloning to eradicate "flaws" it's not out of the realm of possibility for our freedom to be the first to go. But you never know; they might just forget about us and we could still get around in the dark; do all the everyday things we do without being dependent
on light; so blind people could possibly finally be given respect. I sure hope it doesn't take a global war to teach that lesson.

Someone said to me not long ago that the September 11th thing probably wasn't as real to me since I didn't see the pictures, especially those of people
flinging themselves from windows to their certain deaths. I told her that I heard the descriptions; and it seemed just as real to me as it did to many people--not all that real at first--like it was some movie--my daughter thought at first. I don't have to see the pictures to know the sadness of losing loved ones; I've experienced it already. I knew how to help, to give to the Red Cross, to talk to my daughter for three hours one day to help her work through it; to be there for friends who had lost someone in the attacks. I've collected writings related to that time; shared them with others. And who knows what else? Being blind doesn't keep
me incapable of understanding the tragedy, nor from helping to make it better.

This is an excellent and pertinent provoker. Thanks for waiting a few months and then bringing it up. It is relevant to all of us.”

Lauren Merryfield (Washington USA )

**22. “What a timely Provoker.

Let me first say that I enjoy reading all responses but most
recently a response from alan and Gail in North Queens land was
perfect to this topic. share a smile and remain positive thus
possibly leading to a more positive world.

We as blind individuals can panic like some others but if we
are prepared to live a daily life and add some to that we will
be just fine.
Let me
step back about 26 years when I was first married. We had
a grand old house in a country setting. However we were forever
without power because of poor electric connections to a main
line. So we always had extra candles for the sighted in the
house and a few extra food items to include milk in a packet
which could be mixed with water.
My current home was without power in October of 87 when most
of Northeast United States was without power because of an ice
storm. again, we paused and reflected as to what we actually had.
We had each other to include many area friends. Our radio brought
some news and when we could we played some of our older tapes.

We are all human beings no matter where we live. Yes we are
blind but stop there. We as blind people with the assist of a
cane or a dog move about and if it was a war zone than we would
need to mentally to organize what skills we have. We as
individuals and as well as a group of human beings, blind or not
can and should on a daily basis stay in contact with what we
could do if needed .

It costs very little to be prepared for any emergency .

the people I feel sorry for are the ones who are to spoiled and
have not a clue what is fun in life . To share a sandwich, a cup
of coffee or yes, even a flashlight with a neighbor.

I think Life as we know it is to short as it is so make the best
of what we have. One day at a time share your friendship and
knowledge . Share what you know in a skill of communication from
one state and from one country to another.

As time unfolds we would hope our world leaders might feel as we
do , in that we as human beings are challenged enough to reach
out to learn and share. even if it is with a smile or a new
As funds are available I will continue to fly, to travel to new
places and pray that nobody has used up the last of my crunchy
peanut butter or moved my tobacco before I return home. Life is a
pleasure and as human beings, yes blind human beings we too can
take one day at a time and still " be Prepared" for what may lay
confront us tomorrow. thanks Robert for opening this topic.”

Lee A. stone (Hudson, New York USA )

**23. “This provoker brings up a lot of feelings for me.

I think for a long time we have considered ourselves as totally
untouchable but the events of Sep 11th have changed this. I work in the travel industry and was booking flights for clients on the day of this event. About an hour after this happened a man called on my line in tears fearing his good friend and business partner was on the United Flights he begged for our help. He was booked on the same flight the next day. Unfortunately after several minutes none of us in the office could find his friends reservation so we referred him to the airline since if we did not book it we could not pull it up for him. The man sounded to be in his 40s but at the same time like a child in tears. It certainly made this all way too real for me.

You know we have all gone along with our lives thinking only was happens in the middle east or in underdeveloped countries but would never happen here. It is funny how we have protected ourselves by denying a real reality. Not so long ago Sarajevo was considered one of the most beautiful, peaceful, and safe places in the world. Well look what happened to them and I guarantee the people who had lived there for years in peace never expected what would happen.

Would we as blind people be more vulnerable to terrorist forces? Sad but true. Most terrorist pray on the weaker. While we may see ourselves as just as strong and able as anyone the reality is we are at a disadvantage and they would pray on this. After all why were women victimized in Afghanistan?

How would we cope? I think we would be like everyone else and try to survive as best we could. We would have no choice. We would hide when we had to, fight when we need to, and cry when we hurt. The survival instinct is strong in everyone regardless of a disability.

Will I spend sleepless nights worrying about what will happen now? Will I stop traveling? No the truth is we can only control what is in our
control. We cannot predict the actions of others or the way our future
will pan out. Many people died on those planes but just as many had only done what is normal for us all. The majority of those killed in sept. were average working people, going to a job, shopping in a store, eating breakfast, and doing all the things we do every single day of our lives and they certainly did not know what is to come. Every time I go into a mall or to a festival I put myself at risk but I will not let some terrorist stop me from living my life and I will not live in constant fear because fear in me promotes power in them that I refuse to give them.”

Robyn Wallen (Saint Louis, Missouri USA)

**24. “I think all of the things you have said are valid concerns. As for me though, and I too am visually impaired, I place my trust in my God. He promised never to leave me or forsake me, and He promised that He would provide for all of my needs. The Bible says that in the day of trouble we should not put our eyes
on the circumstances, but put our faith and hope in Jesus. I hope you can find peace in this.”

Dawn Adams (OandM)

**25. “The best thing to do is to get information and advice from blind people who HAVE lived in "war zones". Although it's good to give some thought and preparedness, it doesn't do any good to ruminate over what could happen.”

Judy Jones (Tacoma, Washington USA)

**26. “did this person just arrive from another planet or live in a utopia of some kind? what changed in his world? I don't understand.

Entertain for a moment, if you will, the idea that nothing has changed
except your awareness. In this case, there are no other implications or results of current conditions which weren't there before. This means, would that be QED, all currently implemented strategies for existing for another breath are still in effect and no change is expected.

If however something has happened in the world to change the balance of power, then maybe this should be taken more seriously. I didn't watch the news this evening, did something happen I missed? The Martians landing perhaps?”

Joel Zinba (NFBtalk)

**27. “I wouldn't even want to deal with that sighted. I think it can be unnecessarily stressful to live with those thoughts.”

Jessica Givens,COMS, RTC

**28. “I am going to store food and water and some other things and use them if we have to stay in our homes. I will also get a personal wepdon. I will also get funds spread around, so I can always get to some when I need it. I’ll be super cautious around other people. I will help others where I can.”

Rob Newbine (UK)

**29. “Yes! All the things jotted down by the journal writer could happen. All accessible media could vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Phone service could be non-existent. Scary thoughts for people who are blind and visually impaired as well as for those with other disabilities. Would I be a guide in the darkness or would my familiar surroundings be blown away? Even the situation of 9/11 put many at greater risk and caused blind people to think
about emergency preparedness. My belief is that people who are blind must keep in contact with those who are sighted. If and when we as blind persons can find ways to assist those sighted people who will allow us to do so, we may find ourselves not so isolated when war strikes. As a blind person, I have found that friends and acquaintances either feel and act extremely shallow or superficial toward me or they forget that I lack eyesight. As an adult, my wish would be to remain in the war zone in solidarity with others. As a pastor, I would like to believe that I would act in faith, listening to
the voice of a higher power amid whatever crisis I find myself.”

Jo Taliaferro (Grand Rapids, Michigan USA)

**30. “I’ m blind and I am getting ready for all possible situations. For example, if there is a dirty bomb in my city, I have worked out escape routes for me and my family; this includes from our home and/or from where ever we may be caught if and when it happened. I have written out (Braille and print) lists of phone numbers (if the phone system is still functioning), addresses and maps as to where too rondivue, etc. I am lucky to have other family living in small towns within 2 to three hours from the large city in which I presently live.

In case of Smallpox and that sort of threat, if my city is quarantined, I have materials stored within my home to last for months.

All of this has been accumulated over several months. I still live normally, going to work, to the store and generally am not allowing the bad guys to spoil my life. But I will not be caught unprepared; all that I have gathered for safety can be used later for every day life.

As for blindness skills in this preparation... let us say this, any blind person who is capable and the over whelming majority of us are( who hasn’t learned good travel skill and general survival skills is a fool. I don’t mean just for war situations, but for live itself in peace or war. Any family member or friend or teacher or counselor who allows, does not push a blind person to get their act together and become as independent as possible are also fools or misguided or ignorant or something not good for the blind person. I also know that some people do not have allot of inner personal strength and for those, speaking of the person who is blind, they need not just to be taken care of, but if needed TOUGH LOVE needs to be employed to push them to excel. Expectations is the name of the game here and expectations compared to that of the normally sighted is the baseline, not some stupid and ignorant thought that a disabled person is less than a whole person.

Life is real! Mother didn’t promise a rose garden, she just tried her darnest to create and maintain one for us. “

Not the Lone Ranger (Heartland USA)

FROM ME: “ How many of us are thinking and acting like this person?”

**31. “This is one of those "thought provokers" that I told myself I should not participate in, because I am not blind, but as I read through the responses, I am realizing that the majority of them indicate that in the event of an emergency, most blind people feel that they would be on their own. I keep reading how important it is to know how to get around with your canes, how hard it will be without adaptive technology, and that the "disabled" will be singled
out as the first to be preyed upon and even done away with.

I saw a different reaction to the horrible tragedy of September 11, and I don't mean because I can see, or because I was watching as that second airplane plowed into the second World Trade Center tower as the first one spewed fire and smoke from the gaping hole in it's side caused by the first airplane. It was a terrible thing to witness, in fact, I heard one news commentator say that if ever there was a good time to be blind, it was then! Can you imagine
someone even saying a thing like that? But an awful thing like that visual image can cause some people to think that way, I suppose, and we all learned lessons about ourselves that day.

What struck me, though, was the way Americans stood up to the fear, and did what they had to do. Within minutes, police and firemen, EMS personnel and many others were on the scene and in those buildings, trying to rescue as many as possible. Their bravery cost them their lives. Terribly sad, but what
I learned in the days to follow made me proud to be an American and proud to be a human being. There was the story of the woman who was in a wheel chair, and two men, not firemen or policemen or supermen, two regular men, carried that woman and her chair down 80-some flights of stairs, and they reported
that, while others passed them to get to safety, almost everyone asked if they could give a hand, and no one pushed or shoved their way past. The men did not know the lady before that day, and she did not know them. There was a blind man whose guide dog brought him to the hallway, where sighted people grabbed onto him and helped him down the stairs. I saw him on TV, and he was a heavy fellow, so he said it took quite a long time to get down because
he needed to rest every now and then (as anyone would, blind or sighted), but again, people were considerate of him and his dog and he broke down and cried on TV as he expressed his thanks to those he didn't know and probably never would know. Look at all the people who immediately ran to hospitals and blood
banks to give blood, money, food, whatever was needed. No, I saw a very different side of humanity that day. I saw people wanting to help people. I was among those who cried for the tragedy and cried for the camaraderie, and I cried for myself for not knowing what to do and how to help. Most people wanted to help, most people would have been there in person to help, if they could have. Helping others give us the sense of being able to do something, anything,
and by worrying about others, we put off worrying about ourselves. We're all going to die someday, and can't live in the fear that it's going to be today, but September 11th made us realize that it could be today, or tomorrow, and taught us that we should tell our loved ones that we do love them. That's
all we really have to give, when you think about it. If we love ourselves, then we know how important every person's life is, and we'll reach out to those who need or want our help.

To sum up what was supposed to be a very short reply, I think that if we have faith in God and faith in humanity, we will all survive, and while there will be people who will try to take advantage of the situation, like those who collected money for fictitious 9/11 charities, or those who claimed to have lost a loved one when they really didn't, and yes, there are always those who will try to step on another to put themselves in first place, most of us will stand up for each other and rebel against those who are trying to harm or do away with anyone who is disadvantaged or disabled. We all have our worth
in life, God put us all here for a reason, and I think we as a country based on freedom and liberty realize that now and will do what is right. At least, that is my prayer for the world, and that is what I would try to do.”

k (Florida, USA)

**32. “Yes, you are over reacting. We are not living in a
war zone, we are the victims of a criminal attack. If
you want a war zone move to Afghanistan, there you
will see the real victims of war. A war waged against
innocent civilians and alleged terrorists alike.
This message line that you are sending perpetuates the
fear the government wants us all to feel--leading to a
lack of feeling or what is called psychic numbing. If
our feelings are numbed, we all become "blind" to the
atrocities inflicted upon innocents and criminals.
Bombs have a difficult time telling the difference.”


**33. “ I'd like to respond to the provoker about September 11. I am not American, I am blind and I am finding it difficult to identify with the views and fears expressed in that provoker. There are many things I could say but perhaps the most important one is this..... Just because a person can't see does not mean they cannot take responsibility for themselves as a citizen of the world. Murderous actions are themselves reactions to injustices. It is not enough
to claim how wonderful and god-fearing your country is. You must answer for your country's actions. If those actions make you, as a blind person, vulnerable to murderous reactions, then you should get yourself out into the open, and declare yourself opposed to those policies. You are responsible for what is done in your name, and blindness is no excuse for political inactivity. If you are frightened, do something about it. I originate from an empire based
country, England, and I am not proud of its past, I am glad to see its power wane and only wish it too would desist from bombing all its political and economic adversaries. Swap your self pity to guilt and then do something about it.”

Sandy (United Kingdom)

**34. “There was a blind man whose guide dog brought him to the hallway, where sighted people grabbed onto him and helped him down the stairs.....
The dog didn't take the blind guy; he gave the dog directions. Dog guides do not "take" blind people around; the blind person is in charge and gives directions. Because people grabbed at him to help him, showed the sighted people didn't think the blind guy could get out by himself.
I am glad he got out and that all kinds of people helped each other, but not giving the blind guy credit for getting himself and his dog out is part of what we're dealing with so much of the time.
I read some newspaper account that said the dog was a hero for getting the blind guy out; now, come on! The guy got out in spite of others' fears that he couldn't do it himself. And I bet he helped them as much as they helped him, and that was never in the newspaper or on TV, that I ever heard.”

Lauren Merryfield (Washington USA)

**35. "I must add my agreement, we are NOT in a war zone here in America! We who
were born and raised in this country have NO idea of the horrors of a true war zone. We, this generation and those near us in time have NOT bee exposed to war or even asked to sacrifice as our parents and grandparents did in World War Two!

Politicians nowadays are afraid to ask for the kinds of sacrifices their
predecessors had to request. They are only concerned that if they ASKED us to conserve fuel, to recycle scrap metal, to get behind a "war effort", if they issued ration booklets, got us on a TRUE "war footing" that we would rebel and not re-elect them! And they are right! As a nation, we are all spoilt children, blind and sighted alike.

To get yourself out of the doldrums, here is what to do: Use public transit instead of the family car. Take the train. Amtrak is dying and we're just letting it go. Recycle metal, give blood, do volunteer work, organize Neighborhood watch groups, learn to handle and fire a gun if you feel frightened, learn self defense, take a walk, get fit, make friends and go on with life. Carry Mace or a knife, but LEARN how to USE these things first! Lay in a supply of food and water, take a fire safety course, turn off the news, get out of the chair and call your local congress-person to find out what they need us to do!

Have a family plan for evacuations and rehearse it. Know where you should meet if you become separated and have a backup in case that area is off limits. carry a cell phone, keep an evacuation kit handy, have a first aid kit and learn how to use it. Contact the Red Cross to see if they have classes in disaster preparedness and rescue breathing. Get involved and keep an EYE on the politicians who WANT you to be a scared sheep. bleating
for security and throwing your civil rights and dignity away by the
shovelful! Do NOT let "them" take away your freedom, your rights, your dignity, your COUNTRY! Get up on your feet, take a deep breath and shout "I AM AN AMERICAN! I AM FREE! I WILL STAY FREE BY THE EFFORT OF MY OWN TWO HANDS!" And then... DO it!

Sylvia Stevens (USA)

**36. I find it necessary to
respond to this Thought Provoker. Ever since September 11 of 2001, and even before that, it seems services for blind or visually-impaired people in this
country have taken a turn for the worse. I'm not going to divulge my political views in this forum, because I have some very strong opinions on the current
political situation, as I am sure many people do. However, what I will say is that services for the disabled in this country need to improve. The events
of 9/11/01 were indeed most tragic, but what is also most tragic is the extreme lack of adequate services in this country for people with disabilities.
Those of us with visual impairments have the highest unemployment rate of anyone, and very little if anything at all is being done about it. As soldiers
become wounded to the point of being permanently disabled, there will be a growing demand for such services as Braille and other adaptive technology training
and employment counseling, just to name a few. There also needs to be more adequate transportation provided for people to get to these services, if they
cannot be obtained in the home. Our elected/appointed officials need to stop beating around the bush as it were, and respond to this growing demand for
improved access to various services. This doesn't just mean telling everybody that such-and-such a bill will be passed which would improve access to care,
etc. etc. etc. But what this also means is taking an aggressive stand-up for our rights as human beings and actually doing what is said will be done rather
than turning the other cheek.

Jake Joehl, Chicago, Illinois USA