Facing The New World


by guest author

Michael Bullis

attention.” A hush fell on the bridge of the Star Ship Hope as all minds fixed on Captain Conroy as he began to speak. "I want to begin by summarizing our situation and then I'll open the floor for ideas.” He cleared his throat. "We left Earth twenty years ago to begin a voyage to the nearest inhabitable planet to Earth. This ship is carrying three hundred and ten souls. With the exception of the ten of us who are awake, all of the occupants have been in stasis for the past twenty years. We knew prior to placing the three hundred in stasis that there were some risks. In tests prior to leaving Earth approximately 2 percent of subjects became blind. We viewed that as an acceptable risk, given the benefits obtained by arriving at the new planet without aging and because we didn't have to provide for those three hundred people during the trip.

     Now, as you all know, we're entering the solar system and beginning to slow this ship down. We'll be arriving at our new home in eight months. Unfortunately, preliminary but conclusive tests indicate that every person who has been in stasis is totally blind. We can all blame the developers of the chryo-stasis system and if any of you has time to waste you can bring legal action. But, the truth is, we can't change the facts--and the facts are these.

     In eight months we'll be arriving at our new planetary home. We know
it has Earth-like gravity and climate but we know little else. We cannot anticipate what level of safety will be likely nor can we stay aboard this ship. We simply don't have the food or resources, even if we wanted to do so.

     Our challenge is to train these three hundred people to function with their blindness in the next eight months. prior to leaving Earth, the ten of us were trained in the skills of cane travel, Braille, home management and really became proficient in the skills of being a blind person. We know that functioning blind is doable. What none of us anticipated was the need to train three hundred people to be truly competent and to do it in eight months. They'll need to travel, defend themselves, farm, build, use computers, cook, eat, drink, all of it. We have the raw materials to make the basic tools of blindness, canes, slates and styluses, software to make the computers talk.

     Keep in mind that failure to succeed may sentence these people to death by attack, starvation or who knows what else. Your survival and mine will depend largely upon how well we succeed in preparing these folks with the skills of blindness. Yes, the student to instructor ratio is thirty to one but let's find a way to creatively solve this problem. Failure is simply not an option. The floor is open for suggestions."

e-mail responses to newmanrl@cox.net

**1. There is no need for a thirty person case load. Assuming the cryogenics are stable, revive 100 of the 300 passengers. Spend the next eight months training
them. Assuming that gravity on the vessel is 1g, or at least approximates the gravity on the planet, begin with travel in the corridors. Begin modifying
the instruments which the settlers will need, e.g. chemical research equipment, meteorological equipment, and begin weapons practice. Since projectile
weapons would not be good in a ship, use a laser at low power for practice.

Each of the now 100 blind men and women will be given an area of responsibility. Use their expertise to develop systems for defense, research, record keeping
and exploration. Use the ships resources to produce satellites for geosynchronous orbit to enable the placement of gps systems. Use the ship systems
for extensive surface mapping, and translate that into Braille, or what ever the technology supports, remember if we are assuming a craft with the ability
to travel interstellar distances, we can not assume that all other technology has remained stable.

Use the trained hundred and the crew on the surface for about six months, then wake the second hundred. Use the ones who have been awake to train them.
Give preference to adults in both cases. Wake the final hundred in another six months, these would probably be the children. The social system has now
had more than a year and a half to develop techniques unique to their new environment and to find out what the real problems on this planet are, at least
to begin with.

You and Michael may have sparked a good idea for a novel. I wonder if I can write it.

Dave Hyde

**2. Wow! Plan on making friends with the natives.

This poses an interesting idea - the notion of the "off-worlder" being at a disadvantage. (Almost all the thinking to date starts with the premise that
having the technology to visit a new planet means that you are the superior life force.)

Sometimes the aliens are defeated by their inability to adapt to local conditions (War of the Worlds)
But more often it looks like Star Trek -- weapons, technology and other things that signal superiority.

These kids are going to need to depend on their ability to relate to the locals.


**3. Hmmmmm, me thinks I've seen this theme affore now. Seems that
H.G. Wells had a corner on this story. His point was that those who
are blind can function very well on there own, but that if you
introduce a minority of the sighted into the group, you will find
conflict, usury and more. Since H.G. Wells was a wise man, I shan't
expound any further.

I did have to chuckle at the rooster alarms too. Sheesh, there have to
be more imaginative sounds than that! Is this screen play ready for
prime-time, not quite, but the theme is sound. Maybe another plot
will reveal hidden depths in this hypothesis.

Ann K. Parsons Blind-X

**4. I can't imagine that the staff would be that well-trained to handle one blind person, let alone 300; seems way too far-fetched; even in the future.
I think it is more probable that in the future, blind people will be "aborted" or "euphemized, in secret," rather than being allowed to live and be trained.
But this is just a guess.
I like futuristic stories, though! This is a really good one!

Lauren Merryfield Washington USA

**5. In the captain's shoes, I would have each of the ten train two people, then have those people train two, and so on. So that as each learned, he passed
his lesson on down to the next two, and soon enough, the training would be completed. It would not take as long as having each of the ten try to train
thirty people at once, since you cannot give individual attention to thirty people. You know, I think that's the reason I didn't stay with teaching in
the classroom?

Take care.
Lori Stayer

**6. My thoughts would be:

1. What is your specialty? What are you most able to contribute to the cause. We are going to need instructors to teach the skills but we will also
grief counselors
Inventors to make things we may need in our new home
All of us will have to pitch in with most things, but if we know what to count on you most for, we can make this happen more smoothly.

Nancy Coffman Lincoln, NE USA

**7. Hello, and thank you for another disturbing thought provoker - and I mean that with the best of intentions.

So, these guys were trained to work with and teach blind people? That means the people in stasis were expected to be blind before they left. Or, was there
time during the 20 years of flying time (can you say fly when it's space?) to realize the mishap and begin training? I'm not clear about that aspect.
But assuming that the technology exists to get people out there, but not to fix physical disorders, (stem cells or prosthetics (jordie), micro-surgery,
or anything else, the environmental issues aren't going to be as big a deal as some social issues.
I would anticipate that the blind people will quickly learn the environment and how to cope, at the same rate or percentage as they would do so here on
this planet. You know how it is: the whiners and complainers whose "needs" are never being met, right in there alongside those who just get out there
and do it.
Than, okay, mightn't there be some scenario played out as in "Lord of the Flies?" Have you noticed how people love, "Survivor", for example. It's a "Lord
of the Flies" kind of deal, though they're not killing each other. Unless human nature changes significantly in the next few centuries, I think people
won't be all that different in behavior. The blind people will have to have their wits about them, and straight away upon setting foot on land, make up
their minds that they're going to, not only survive but excel. Living in unity, for one thing, cooperatively, will certainly be one solution. I know
it's workable. Here in the Pacific islands, people love cooperative effort, and it far excels competitive effort in producing results.
Thanks for reading.

best regards,


First: I would point out that this scenario is slightly skewed, because all
the occupants coming out of stasis will be shocked to discover their
blindness, not born into it, as some of the blind population are. Therefore,
the bridge crew faces the additional problem of PTSD-like symptoms and other
shock-related disorders. Second, one is led to ask, will the next
generation the colonists breed be blind as well? If so, then maybe the
answer is to focus on technology that can outlast the already-aging bridge
crew and help the colonists do what they need. After this, I believe the
key is to gather together all those who are specialists in their field and
get them to teach as much as they can by use of muscle memory and other
propriaceptive and acoustic skills, which they will no doubt have, if they
are truly masters of their crafts. Learning from the real masters is the

Mark Baxter BlindLaw list

**9. I think that this is really cool!!! It would be cool to go to a different planet to see how the other half of the galaxy lives.
As for facing a new world, the many explorers who have discovered the parts of the earth that are now inhabited had to face these same thoughts--not
knowing what good or bad things to expect, making the best of the raw materials in the area, developing survival skills based on what they knew before,
etc. Such an area like this new world can be just as easily inhabited if people work together in which everyone contributes their individual skills to
the rest of the group. The only thing that should be left out of the stuff being brought to this new world are those rooster clocks .


**10. I loved the recent Thought Provoker! Very interesting idea! I have no doubt that the awake crew will come up with great ideas, and are likely to include
the development of peer mentoring by those who most quickly grasp the skills and beliefs to those not as quick to catch on. Thank you for this Fun article!

Dr. Pearl Van Zandt, Executive Director
Nebraska Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired

**11. I belong to a blind writers group and one of the ideas we have been throwing around is a series of stories in which a society or group of blind people dominate.
This one would fit in well. One thing though that struck me as not likely is that the crew of ten would all have been trained to teach the blind. After
all, they were expecting to have to handle only about six blind people. That training was done twenty years ago. I think the first thing to be done would
be to assess the emotional readiness to accept blindness. Some will need longer to process the loss of sight than others. They will not all be ready
to begin skills training. Each of these three hundred people is an individual and will face their blindness in a different manner. Some will attack the
problem of blindness as a challenge. They will want to gain skill training as rapidly as possible to get on with life. Others may now find that the professions
they trained for are no longer possible and may need to seek another means to serve the community. Some may have additional hurdles to overcome such as
a poor sense of direction. This adjustment phase may actually go much quicker in that they will understand that they are not alone and that survival depends
on learning and adapting quickly. The first step may be to assess the strengths of the instructors so that they can divide tasks most effectively. Just
because you know a particular skill set may not equip you to teach it.

Deanna Quietwater

**12. I would hope that they could figure out some way to train the people in the skills of blindness in as short a period of time as possible, but they are also
going to have the emotional ramifications of 300 blind people to deal with and that will be the most difficult part.

Sherri from Orlando

**13. What an interesting challenge this is! I will first take it that the sighted crew are of the philosophy and honor of character that they will stick to the belief that blindness is not a super big deal and that they are to honestly respect their students rights. Then after helping their students work through their emotional upset, it would be, I believe on most of the students parts, they the students will really get into this need of theirs to master their blindness and hence their new world and it will be from this awareness and, new found ability and drive that all this will be possible! I've been around groups of newly blinded people who were working their way through the various stages of adjustment and when you get them to the stage where they are beginning to see the possibilities of reclaimed confidence and ability, they really get excited! And when they get to that point, their accomplishments advance by leaps and bounds! To be there during this process is a real up-lifting experience for all! And to think of setting up a new society, a new world! WOW!!!

Some one needs to write this book up! the planet of the blind. And there, of course would not be any of this BS about a one eyed creep taking advantage of the others and that is because of the reality that with the right philosophy of and by the blind themselves, it will be they who are in control of their lives and with our human intelligence and adaptability there is no way they would allow themselves to be taken over; we are just too smart for that type of thing. (If you think that could happen, a one eyed person lording it over a group of well adjusted and capable blind people, then you are not a person who has been trained and believe like what some of us have who have attended the better orientation centers found in the United States of America {sorry, I don't know much about training centers other places in the present world of today}.)

Thirdly, as for how the 10 train the 300? Starting with 30 students a piece, is a start. Keeping in mind, some of the instructors will be better at one set of skill training then the other guy; some will be better travel teachers and others will do better at computer and so on.) But you start with the 10 to 30 and as the newly blinded students begin to show their personal strengths, you use the better examples/students as peer instructors. This will play into the smart, the smartest and more beautiful aspect of learning and of teaching the multi-level set of concepts and skills needed in helping some one accept a major life changing happening like going blind. Meaning, if you can see that others are mastering it, have mastered it, as in others like you, then that in most cases hits home harder than if you get that same training from someone who only knows it, but does not live it. So the blind peer instructor, the other students who have learned the new skills would be more effective than the sighted instructors and soon into the process you will have many of them to speed along the process. Its that old "you need to walk in my shoes" type of thing. And so, yes you use the sighted staff in this scenario to kick start the process and you utilize the growing crop of adjusting newly blinded-newly successful blind people to build your heated up training oven of a orientation and adjustment center.

Roberta USA

**14. I would hope that they could figure out some way to train the people in the skills of blindness in as short a period of time as possible, but they are also
going to have the emotional ramifications of 300 blind people to deal with and that will be the most difficult part.

Sherri from Orlando