"Alms." Said the blind man, tin cup extended out to the passing pedestrian.
"A coin. Thank you sir, this is all I can expect in life. A few more coins this day and I will treat myself to a cup of wine."
"Come with me, I am going to have wine with a friend. You must meet him." Said the pedestrian and lead the way.
Entering a walled garden, fountains splashed, they were seated at a table under a tree with the owner of the villa.
"I have been blessed! My businesses prosper, a friend visits bringing a guest. Life is truly wonderful! Allow me to pour the wine."
"RING, RING, RING." The wine jar touched the rim of each goblet.
"A toast to future prosperity!" Said the owner.
The pedestrian guided the hands of the two blind men until all three golden goblets, "CLINKED!"
e-mail responses to email@example.com
**1. “My first reaction to this thought provoker was that what I think about my expectations for myself and my future depends on what mental state I am currently experiencing. When things are going well, and I am happy and contented in general with my life, I expect gold. When I am depressed or going through one of those occasional "poor me" phases, I expect tin. I guess everybody, blind or not, could say this. In short, life is always what you make of it, isn't it?
I was lucky to have been raised in a family where the expectation was that I could do or be anything I wished. I have faced my share of discrimination along the way, like most of us, but, in general, I feel my family is right. Most of the roadblocks in my life were surmountable if I was willing to put in that extra effort to do so rather than giving in or giving up. I feel that with support from one another and continued fighting for our rights wherever we are, we can get to gold. But we all can become bitter or discouraged, so we need groups like this to remind each other to keep trying, to keep going, and that there is power in numbers.”
Zhenya Smith (Amesburg, Massachusetts USA firstname.lastname@example.org)
FROM ME: “EXPECTATIONS! Let us see how many times and in how many ways we see this one come up. Here we’ve seen it to be from with in ourselves, from others to us, how it can be effected by mood, how there is a power in numbers.”
**2. “I think it shows that the blind are no different than non-blind people. There are sighted people that beg, don't work and have nothing physically wrong with them. There are blind people that outdo some sighted people, not only in terms of money, but in terms of attitude. This story shows the blind are on a continuum like everyone else as far as their attitudes towards life.”
Catherine Alfieri (Pittsford, New York USA )
FROM ME: “ATTITUDE! Another key concept. Also, twice now the reference that the blind are no different than the sighted in this regard. Agree?”
**3. “It's clear there is a big difference between the two men in this story and not just the economic circumstances of the two. Obviously, one was taught the right social skills, given plenty of encouragement, and introduced to the right people, and given the proper education where the other was left to his own device, discouraged, and demoralized. If you're told you're worthless enough times and that you can't do anything, you'll believe it. We are all a product of what we were raised around as well as our genetic make up but most of it is pure chance weather we get to be part of the 30% successful blind or the 70% that live in poverty and dependence. Will power and tenacity also come into play here too but mostly like I said, it's got to do with breaks and your willingness to take advantage and natural ability to turn a thing around.”
SueEllen Melo (Albuquerque, New Mexico USA)
FROM ME: “Social skills, encouragement, introduced to the right people, proper education, genetic make up, breaks, willingness to turn a thing a round… All important ingredients the lady says to be successful. So I’m wondering, what steps can we take to ensure that this formula or even a similar one can and will be in place for our blind youth?”
**4. “This was a neat thought provoker. It really can make one think. There is a world of difference between these two blind men. You have one blind man who is a poor person begging on the streets, hoping that he can get just a little bit of money to have one glass of wine. Just to speculate, perhaps he never knew any better or had any higher expectations for himself. Perhaps all he knew was the stereotype of the blind person with a tin cup on the street corner. If he was blind, then that's all he thought could be done. Perhaps he didn't have any skills and couldn't do anything but beg.
Then we have the other blind man. He was totally different. It was cool how the reader didn't know he was blind until the very end of the story. This man seemed to be doing quite well for himself. His business was good, he seemed to have some money, and he was enjoying a glass of wine with a friend of his and a guest. Not only that, but he was being a role model for the other blind man in several ways. He was showing him that he was doing well for himself and that blindness wasn't a factor. He sounded happy with life rather than felt sorry for himself. Perhaps he even showed independence and blindness skills when he poured the wine for the three of them.
I think we shouldn't forget the pedestrian in this story. I assume he was sighted. He also knew a difference between the two blind gentlemen. He wanted the poor blind beggar to meet his other blind friend who seemed to be successful. He probably knew that blindness wasn't a factor in success the way the beggar might have thought it was for himself.
So, the beggar got to see both worlds starting with a tin cup and ending with a gold wine goblet.”
Jim Portillo (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)
FROM ME: “We just saw- stereo typing and modeling mentioned. Think about these; what about them? Also, could the pedestrian be seen as a teacher?”
**5. “This is an interesting one, as I have contemplated it often. Why is it that one blind person seems to be well-adjusted, prosperous, and happy, while another may be inept, unprosperous, and miserable? Is it opportunity? Is it personal spirit that makes the difference? Is it the support/treatment of the blind person by his or her family? I think, at least for me, all three enter into the picture.
Most sighted people would say I was crazy if I said that I was fortunate. After all, I'm blind, and that must surely be one of the worst things that could happen to a person. However, I couldn't disagree more.
As for opportunity, I did not lose my vision until after my degree was completed, and my career was well-established. Luckily, I have been interested in computers since I was a teen-ager, and this area is about as lucrative as one can get. I think back on how hard I worked to get my degree, and I'm overwhelmed with respect for those who complete their degree after sight loss. It was hard enough in the first place without adding the difficulties that any blind student must face.
And, what if I had chosen some other field that required me to drive, or do something else visual, as an integral part of my job? Computer programming is not that way. Now that screen readers and page scanning software is out there, it almost makes my job as easy as it would be if I were sighted.
As a result of my career, and some savvy choices I have made therein, I am quite prosperous. I own my own home, and I earn enough for my wife to go to school full-time. I'm not exactly a Rockefeller, but I earn plenty to be comfortable and not worried about money. On the other hand, my wife and I were so broke when we first got married that we couldn't afford to pay attention! Thank heavens those days are behind me, and I hope they stay that way. However, living through that experience has made me appreciate what I have in a way that I couldn't if I had always been well-off.
As for being well-adjusted, I think I am better off than some, and not so well-off as others. When I initially lost my vision, I went through the whole anger, frustration, denial, bargaining thing, and now, I'm in acceptance. Some people never move past the beginning, and I am lucky that my wife was so supportive of me. She has never cut me an ounce of slack, and expects a lot from me, so I do my best not to disappoint her. However, she has always been there to help me when I needed it, and I know I can always count on her.
I definitely went through those initial stages, though, and I feel bad for those who had the misfortune of my acquaintance during that time. It took awhile for my inner spirit to come back into play and put me on the road to recovery. Part of that recovery included this forum, and the airing of common feelings, that made me realize I am in fact not the only blind guy on earth.
Another big step for me was getting proper cane training. It made me feel more independent, and gave me back some self-esteem. I am not an expert cane user, and my hat is off to those who are, but I realized after getting this training that if I could get myself from point A to point B by using problem-solving, patience, and a sense of humor, that I could apply these traits to other aspects of my life.
I remember reading the response of a woman to an earlier Thought PROVOKER who described how poorly her family treated her as a result of her blindness. They told her to "just use her eyes" to find things instead of using alternative techniques and to "stop acting blind". How awful! Thank God my family and my wife did not react that way! This woman's family should be supporting her, but instead, they are just adding another stone to the weight she already carries in trying to adjust to her blindness.
I think about those things when I imagine scraping by on SSI, when I think of someone trying to pull himself up by the bootstraps by earning a degree, when I hear folks mention that they have not received any rehabilitative training, or when people say that their families have not accepted their blindness. I think that most, if not all, of us, could move from being a beggar to being a prosperous individual given the right circumstances and the will to do so. When I hear statistics that say that 70% of all blind people don't work at all, I am astounded. Does anyone know if these figures are truly correct? I can't imagine another way of existence that would not include some kind of career, unless it included some tropical island with a beach and rum-filled coconuts!
I think one of the biggest hurdles to overcoming one's circumstances, however, is the inner thought processes that an individual has. If you can convince yourself that you can do something, you're at least 50% of the way to doing it. If you're convinced that you'll never do something (get a job, be independent, etc.) then you're probably living a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Of course, everyone has bad times, whether they are sighted or blind. Everyone deals with day-to-day tribulations. Some of mine include, say, getting off the elevator on the wrong floor and not realizing it for a few seconds until the elevator has departed! Now, I could either grumble about that, and say, "Oh, I'm just a poor blind guy, and life's not fair," or I could do what I do, which is laugh the situation off and try not to screw up next time. Besides, life's not fair whether you're blind or not! So, my advice to folks is, just deal with it as it comes and don't sweat the little things.
I guess I've rambled on quite awhile now. I don't want this to sound like some kind of self-congratulatory spiel. I'm sure that there will be times in my life that will not be as good as they are now. I'm sure that I will not always face my blindness with the good humor I mentioned above. I'm sure that sometimes I take my wife and family for granted, when in fact, they're the most important things in life. I can only hope that my attitude, good fortune, and family support can help me to weather whatever life comes up with.”
David Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia USA)
FROM ME: “CHANCE! When you go blind? What career you choose? Bad times? How about these factors? Another interesting state of mind this gentleman pointed out- “Living a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Have you heard of this? Is it another way of saying expectations?
Lastly he writes- ‘Besides, life's not fair whether you're blind or not! So, my advice to folks is, just deal with it as it comes and don't sweat the little things.’ How about this for advice? Have you seen it phrased differently?”
**6. as I see it, the beggar should have found another way to live. I found it cool that the passerby decided to take him to another blind person who looks as if he could be rich. I am not to sure what the short story is trying to portray, but I fond it interesting that the blind person was portrayed as a beggar when there are very few blind beggars these days.”
Reinhard Stebner (College Station, Texas USA)
**7. “The obvious response to this story is that the beggar doesn't have much and depends on the kindness of others to give him what he has. While the host is obvious wealthy and presumably well adjusted, since he poured the wine. But, I think we have to look further into the story.
The first man is begging for his money, but it's the job he knows. He makes enough to have a glass of wine on occasion, and appears to enjoy talking with the pedestrians passing. So, although it may not be the best thing a blind man can do, this is what the beggar knows and he makes his living doing it.
On the other hand, all we know about the host is that he lives in a villa and knows how to pour wine. He is pleased to have someone come visit and bring a guest, which makes me think that maybe he doesn't get outside the villa often. We don't know how he came to receive his wealth. There is no mention of a job or any way that he worked to earn his home and fine goblets.
It appears that both men are generally in the same situation; somewhat dependent on others, but both thankful for what they have and hopeful for something better in the future.
Finally, this story gives me the impression that it may have taken place many, many years ago. So, these people are living as blind people in the only way they know. It doesn't seem as though the beggar should be looked down on, or the host be admired. They have different circumstances, but I believe that they're basically the same.”
Cynthia Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA)
**8. “This story is indeed inspiring! *takes deep breath*
The blind man holding the tin cup has a heart for simple pleasures. I could picture him almost smiling as he looked forward to that single glass of wine. The blind well-off man had a heart for financial wealth and while this perspective may not be as simple, I still can see him smiling as well. Both have had to work hard for their individual accomplishments. If each man is happy with his position in life, than each will go on with no qualms or regrets. I see neither in these two men. I only wish things were that simple instead of complex as reality has become.”
Shelley Proulx (Brighton, Massachusetts USA)
FROM ME: “This response is not the first to make reference to the status of the two blind men being from a time period in the past. My question/thought is, are their statuses unique to the past? Are there not blind beggars and/or wealthy blind persons today; in this country or the next?”
**9. “For me this snapshot represents two extremes. On the one hand, you've got the stereotypical poor blind beggar who can expect nothing more of life except to passively be provided for by others. He considers himself a victim of his blindness. Whether it is the result of illness or accident of some sort (I presume this story must take place somewhere in Europe several hundred years ago), he has been conditioned by society to think of himself as helpless. The other extreme is the blind man who, obviously prosperous, has enjoyed the fruits of life through his own work. He is a high achiever by any rights, blind or sighted, but he is perhaps an overachiever in the minds of many sighted people who expect blind people to be more like the beggar. I think the interaction of the two blind people can spell a breakthrough on the part of the beggar that he can achieve as much in life as the other wealthier, more capable person. I confess I rather like and identify with the more prosperous individual, and consider the beggar to be anathema to what blind people can and should be. But I might add that having said all this, the blind beggar represents for me and probably others the worry that we are not always as capable as we should be. Actually, I confess that I can get the same feeling from the rich one as from the poor, because as I said earlier, they represent two extremes, and opposite sides of the same coin. Either that or I'm reading a little too much into the second character's means. Maybe I'll respond with additional thoughts as time goes on with this one, but for now these are just a few thoughts. Cheers!”
John D. Coveleski (New York, New York USA)
**10. “ I once walked into the home of a woman of means. Each room was well appointed with fine furnishings and there were expensive looking Turkish carpets on the floor and walls. She and her husband, also blind, seemed to want for nothing while I lived on S. S. I. I epitomized the song that says, "...four cans of beans, three cans of beer, one cassette...". My friend took my wide-eyed compliments in stride and turned to say to me, "One day, you will have this." She spoke with such certainty and led me by example to know what it means to be blind. Now, I have a good job and can afford a cup of wine with a cork for a change. In the last thought provoker, We read about the organized blind. Sometimes it only takes two to organize, the one with the tin cup and the one with the gold.”
Jane Lansaw (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)
**11. “How presumptuous of the sighted man to bring the beggar to the house of his businessman friend.
This type of "heartwarming" anecdote, I am sure, well-intentioned. But the best of intentions doesn't excuse the harm the sighted man may have done.
First, he passed judgment on another human being--the implied judgment is that the poor blind man is wallowing in his disability and in the belief that he can do no more than beg.
Secondly, he presumes to take it upon himself to show the beggar the error in his thinking. What does he expect? That the beggar will see a competent individual with a disability and cease to beg?
The beggar wasn't asked if he wanted to meet someone else who was blind and who was handling it differently. No conversation occurred that would inquire as to what where the circumstances of the beggar's situation (could he have lost his family? perhaps he lost his business? maybe he has a terminal illness? or a myriad of experiences and conditions that may have attributed to his current status).
Perhaps the beggar, upon meeting the businessman who is blind (notice I haven't said "blind businessman” or "blind beggar"), will feel ashamed or embarrassed or even become depressed.
Perhaps he doesn't have the mental acumen that it takes to be a businessman or the skills/education that it would require--or the start-up capital.
To examine the donor's case in a different light, let's make an analogy. Neither the beggar nor the businessman are blind. They are both perfectly healthy, "normal" men. Would the donor have had these two meet?
Should we all run out to the nearest street person and point to someone in a shirt-and-tie and indicate that the homeless person or beggar could be just as successful? I seriously doubt that that tactic would shake up the beggars and have them say, "Well, bygolly! They are just like I am. I can do that, too!"
Also, who is to say which of the two men has it better? In a way, I envy the homeless person! He, at least can watch the sun move across the sky, twiddle away the hours watching people or walk in the park or window-shop or ...
I have to get up at an hour I don't want, go to work bleary-eyed, miss most of the daylight, get stressed, etc. just to be able to afford creature comforts.
To be sure, the homeless person/beggar has to deal with issues of shelter, warmth, and food, but what he has for daily treasures may surpass the working man's--or woman's (sorry gals).”
Oiram Isetroc ( (Chicago, Illinois USA)
FROM ME: “Where is it that we should draw the line between help and hinder? When is showing a positive example to an individual found to be too much and come out as a negative?”
**12. “I have two distinct thoughts about the current thought provoker.
We recently received a breakdown of Blind Competitive employment among the consumers within our region. It was broken down by caseload, and predictably, the counselor who manages the College Caseload had the highest average earnings per consumer. this leads me to believe that if a blind person is capable of attending college and earn a degree, they are more likely to acquire higher paying employment. I realize that not every blind person, just like every sighted person, is a candidate for college training. This brings me to my second point.
It is very important that we in the vocational rehabilitation profession, listen to our consumers and help guide them toward employment that accentuates their personal strengths, abilities and interests. Sam Walton became the richest man in the world at one point in his life and he never spent a day in college. Instead, he found that his gift was in providing an affordable product to customers with an emphasis on customer service. It was not his education that gave him the edge, but rather his love of what he was doing and his passion for what he was doing.
Every blind person has unique gifts and abilities. It is incumbent upon those of us in the field of vocational rehabilitation to facilitate the development of those skills and guide our consumers toward employment that allows them to exploit their unique talents.”
David Ondich (Dallas, Texas USA)
FROM ME: “If a blind person is a rehab client, how about what this gentleman proposes?” Anything else from the field of rehabilitation?”
**13. “Of course your life is affected by the way you think of yourself. Positive thinking is very important in being a success. You have to believe in yourself before others will believe in you.
Once you are thinking positive and believing in yourself you need to work hard, be persistent and just a bit lucky. Don't give up, keep trying and work hard and believe.
A main goal should be to get others to believe in you as much as you believe in you.”
John Fleming, President, Oregon Council Of The Blind (ACB list, Near Grants Pass, Oregon USA)
FROM ME: “Among the elements of working hard, believing in yourself and making others to believe in you too, this gentlemen brings up luck. What part do you think it takes? Can you make your own luck?”
**14. “A beautiful tale of two men and how they see their disability one has no hope beyond now. The other is enjoying the now Proving life is what you make of it.”
Diane Dobson (NFB-talk)
**15. “After reading the Provoker several times and then stopping and rereading it . This is what it is telling me. First yes we may all be poor in one way or the other but nothing is stopping us from having a goal to reach for, we can go for the gold and have a very great life. Most of the time yes we will have stumbling blocks but that is life and if we care to get up and move forward to reach the goals that we have set for ourselves then nothing can stop us, this can be true for both the sighted and blind.
Personally I know those that want to start at the top of a business and no nothing about what they are doing and are very thin skinned when it come to someone saying that the goals they have set has to take time so that you can reach them and know how it works,(meaning a business). Yes the sighted many opened a door for the blind and when that door opens then by all means keep it open and walk in and take advantage of the opportunity.”
Willie Burton (Arkansas, USA)
**16. “There is no way to know how the 2 blind men were brought up, whether their families were rich or poor, etc. From reading the story I can only guess that the man who owned the villa was fortunate enough to have a good education, supportive people around him and high self esteem. The other blind man might have not had good self esteem, appropriate education and may not have been supported by those around him.
I do think that it is harder for a blind person to achieve success as compared to a sighted person. I have a good education and a very responsible job, but I had to work hard to prove to others that my skills were just as good, if not better, than a sighted persons. I'm in no way saying that blind people are superior to sighted people. Instead I mean that a blind person has to advocate for themselves to insure that they have successful futures. Even with the Americans With Disabilities Act, it is a sad fact that so many of us are unemployed or under employed.”
Janet Ingber (New York City, New York USA)
FROM ME: “This lady, as well as several others, have pointed out the importance of education for success. What education is important?”
**17. “Knowing that God thinks of you as a positive goes a long way in your self-esteem too.”
Sally B. (ACB-list) FROM ME: “What might you think would be the percentage of blind folks from around the world would say “God” is a part of success?”
**18. “Frequently, I was teased when growing up, "You better study, or you will end-up on the corner begging." Just to emphasize the point, a teacher presented me with a mug for graduation. The mug read, "Pencils, ten cents." It even came with five pencils to begin my new business. I am so relieved that computers have opened doors, so we can joke about something that could have been a reality fifty years ago.”
Marcia Beare, M.S.W. (Martain, Michigan USA Jmbeare@accn.org)
FROM ME: “An interesting treat, made in jest, yet with some seriousness intended; a rare exception in this country of USA, but not so uncommon in other countries. Where in this world do we see begging to be more prevalent and indeed accepted or expected as a activity?”
**19. “This could be: The man collecting in the tin cup: 1. the only thing he knows, or cares to do. Expecting, as trained to collect, from government, citizen or church.
2. His/her choice of life style and is just there.
Then you have the man with the glass of wine: 1. May be rich and working well with his life. All is going well in his life; except lonely.
2. He may not be rich with money just a good life and having made wise choices to go forth in a positive motion; which rewarded him well.
Then, noted neither one says....… I can say, as a sighted, gone blind, person. I have been in both shoes. In the working world as a sighted person making good money. Then going blind; yet very slow. Welcome, the tin can and the booze. Then came the opportunity and either I could take or not take a hold of this opportunity. That was a choice I had to make in my life 12 years ago.
I made the choice of the, Positive flow, (Which I like to call it) and go with it. Never looking back At the same time proving to myself that my life is worth something, I am a valued parent/Person, valued person to the community, can work and make a good living, and provide a channel of light for the next person to follow. Which I think, it is our job, to show to others, blind and visually impaired. See, if you want the opportunity, it is here and you can have it too. Doing it in a positive and caring way. On the other hand, If the person chooses, not to except the help or even the guiding light to get there. Then, I know I am alone, I don't believe one should spoon feed them. As I know of a person who is being spoon fed with free money to go to college, computer, apartment and his utilities. While at the same time getting drunk and high each day of the week. In his words, ‘They are suckers and I know how to milk them. They owe me; after all I am dam blind! So why not?”
Gene Stone (Portland, Maine USA)
FROM ME: “In regard to the person referred to in this response who is ‘milking’ the system, what do you think? Where is he at in his adjustment? What do you think will better assist him at this stage?”
**20. “Difference: one is a street person and the other is an Inn owner.
One doesn't expect much from day to day and can get by on getting just enough money for wine by pan handling, he shows no signs of expecting anything more and who knows, he probably doesn't want anything more than what he has now. He is responsible only for himself.
The other has his own business and is happy to have friends and unknown guests in his establishment, he feels that he is blessed. He wanted more out of life and got it. Maybe this business of his was handed down to him or maybe he started it on his own, whatever the case he is happy with his life.
We all have control over how we live. I believe that we can make our own heaven and hell, we are in the drivers seat. How we choose to handle life is up to us. Whether it be a roll-a-coaster life or a calm one.”
Angelica Freeman (Phoenix, Arizona USA)
FROM ME: “WE ARE IN THE DRIVER SEAT_ So how about this attitude of we have control by our own choices?”
**21. “This is a great provoker and makes several points.
First, and foremost, is that in life, we rise to our expectations. I have personally believed in this philosophy for several years. The way I believe is that if you can't see yourself in a certain position, how do you ever expect anybody else to ever envision that. I was a mid-level manager with the state prison system when I went blind. At that time, I had my sights set on administration and was well on track for achieving that goal. Although I took medical retirement to adjust to the blindness as well as adjusting my personal goals, I have not changed that line of thought.
After all, goal setting is what expectations are all about. You have to envision yourself in a place before you reach it. Do you think mountain climbers begin an ascent thinking, "If I make it halfway up, I'll be satisfied"? No way, they shoot for the top.
In the scenario you present, both of the blind persons have reached their expectations. The one begging may or may not have any desire to seek a better station in life, but, at least for now, he is doing the best that he can. That is basic survival. His place is one that I hope to never be in, but God forbid, if I ever find myself without resources for my own survival, that pride would not stop me from humbling myself to ask for help from others. I understand the beggar is the extreme, but we all need help from others at one time or another.
My final thought is prompted by the several references in the first update to education and the unemployment rate among the blind. After going blind and working to the acceptance that I needed to have, I began to strategize on my future. I see the job market as a battlefield. After all, you are competing against all other qualified applicants for a job. Aside from all your qualifications, you have to personally deal with the challenges that complicate the job due to your blindness. Also, you have to overcome the additional problems of stereotypes and discrimination by others.
In that regard, a blind person then has to assess him or herself as a warrior preparing for battle. What weapons do I have and what weapons would I need to acquire before entering that battlefield? For me, I had the 18 years of work experience, 10 of that in mid management, but no education. My war-chest would need to be augmented and I began my college quest. I knew my cane skills were adequate but I lacked the confidence in my mobility abilities I needed to get out in the world. After arming myself with a capable guide dog, I began pursuit of putting a degree into my armory.
When I finish my college quest, I will stand well armed, ready for battle on that battlefield, but my weapons are no good without armor for protection. That will require personal strengths, such as humor and adaptability. More than that, though, I must have foresight to know where I want to go. Just like when I go out with my guide dog, I have to know where I want to go before I head out. That takes us right back to expectations. In life, it is your expectations that will take you where you want to go.
Whether you see yourself waving a tin cup or sipping from a golden chalice in your future, you will not arrive at that location until you believe you can do it.”
Ron Graham (Houston, Texas USA)
FROM ME: “What do you think of the tactic of ‘visioning’ an outcome?”
**22. “You recently posted a response to the Tin or Gold thought provoker. It is paraphrased as: Does a mountain climber think he/she will be happy if he/she makes it half way up? Implied in this post is a philosophy - that blind people should heighten their aspirations and never allow themselves to settle for second best. I agree, with the following caveat.
I hear that the mountain climber who doesn't realize that he/she will need to build strength and stamina (not to mention technique and experience) will never make it to the top. It is often quite realistic and appropriate to have intermediate goals as building blocks - not as end goals. How will we distinguish between appropriate and necessary intermediate goals and low aspiration ultimate expectations with our blind and visually impaired brothers and sisters? Even more vexing,: How will we teach our youth the importance of frustration tolerance and hard work in a world that seems to give neither much quarter and in a post-ADA environment that, for all the good the law has done, may have promulgated an attitude among people with disabilities that all the wrongs of the past need to be corrected now and that any resistance they encounter in life is solely disability-related and should be lifted by fiat and not by process. How do we distinguish?”
Anthony R. Candela National Program Associate AFB West San Francisco
FROM ME: “How do we address this gentleman’s questions? How do we distinguish?”
**23. “One of the virtues of a literary form is that it allows you to make a point by exaggerating contrasts. The blind beggar and the prosperous keeper of a wine lounge may mark the extremes of the blind population and even exaggerate it a little. In 1950, when I left the residential school in British Columbia, I worked as a blind vendor. Hardly a prosperous wine merchant, ;but I was more or less honorably employed. A few doors away, one of my fellow school mates had set up in a corner of the stairs leading up to the post office, literally with a tin cup and he kept it steadily clinking until he departed around noon. I stayed until four thirty, but I have reason to believe that Bert derived more income from ;his begging than I did from my vending. He would probably have been counted as unemployed, but was reasonably prosperous by prevailing standards of success for a blind person. I would never have exchanged positions or occupations with him. The sighted pedestrian who escorted the blind beggar to his wine vending friend may have hoped to encourage the beggar to adopt a more honorable profession and the luxuries that went along with it. I doubt if a rehabilitation counselor would accept "begging" as an "informed choice" for a vocation and provide the individual with a location and a tin cup. I think that we, as blind persons, have ruled begging out as a pursuit that is worthy of choice for a blind person, but I still encounter beggars who are perfectly healthy and able-bodied. Perhaps it sounds a bit better when we call begging, "alms" gathering. Charity, after all, is supposed to be a virtue. Perhaps a step above begging is employment in a sheltered shop, but philosophically advanced blind people look upon this with some scorn. In fact, a proposed rule by the Rehabilitation Services Administration declares that sheltered employment is not a valid reason for closing a case a "successfully rehabilitated." One of the responses to the Provoker raised the question of what the unemployment rate is among blind persons. We often hear the figure of 70% or higher. This figure is nearly stated as the percentage of blind persons between the ages of 18 and 64 who are not employed. One of the sources of the statistic is the periodic Harris Survey. The 1998 edition claims that 32% of disabled persons are either unemployed or under-employed. This allows some people to extrapolate that therefore 68% are unemployed. No one ever cites the other statistic that 45% also say that they are either too disabled or in such bad health that they cannot work. Adding these two figures, we come up with 77% who are either employed or unable to work. At worst, 23% are then technically unemployed, but it is not clear that they meet the four conditions of unemployment: 1. willing to work; 2. able to work; 3. not presently employed; 4. actively seeking work. There are other ways that available statistics can be manipulated, but most examples are either mistaken or reflect a particular political agenda. It's far too high, but it behooves us to work with more realistic figures and try to significantly reduce it.”
James S. Nyman (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)
FROM ME: “So here I the USA, what about this drive to not count a sheltered workshop employment outcome as a legitiment goal? And secondly, how about this gentleman’s explanation of the number of unemployed blind persons in the USA? What is the unemployment in other countries? How is working in a sheltered workshop viewed in other countries?”
**24. “Someone suggested that the second guy might not be doing anything except sitting in his villa and that really he has no more going for him than the first except for location and means. It did say he says, "Business is good." I thought that in spite of what he has, though, he may be a little lonely. Riches aren't everything. Both men are still seeking, one to have enough for a little luxury of the taste of a glass of wine, the other is seeking happiness and friendship maybe? In one way or another they are both opportunists. The beggar is a stereotype; the rich blind man is not. It never occurs to us that he's blind until the end of the story. I had to read it twice before I figured it out. Hmmm! Maybe it was my speech.”
Cindy Ray (Leon, Iowa USA)
**25. “I should first say that when I first read this THOUGHT PROVOKER I hadn't a clue as to what it was about. This told me something....My life may be more like that of the Beggar than that of the well-off businessman. The Pedestrian was trying to connect these two men so that one may have a positive role model, this is somewhat similar to what I have done in my own life, however, as stated by other contributors to this forum, the will has to be there, and I have not as yet discovered the source of motivation. This is a great forum.”
Paul Wick (Sacramento, California USA)
FROM ME: “To get the ‘will’ up and running, have you discovered the source for ‘motivation?”
**26. “I know that we are just as everyone else in society, and that we as blind people run the full range of attitude, emotion and potential. However, as with everyone else, it matters little what happens to us, what is most important is what we do with it. My Mother was short, but she didn't whine about it, she simply asked for help when help is what she needed, and she got the tools she needed when that was called for. We too must remember that we hold most of our potential success in our own hands. Granted it requires a great deal of support, dedication and determination, but our reaction to the actions and attitudes of others is in our control. They can't get us down unless we allow them to.
I loved this one Robert.”
Albert Ruel (Victoria, British Columbia Canada email@example.com)
**27. “Interesting subject Robert. At first glance it might appear rather simplistic, but after allowing it to sink in deeper, we begin to recognize the many facets surrounding this scenario. Education, or the lack of it, is certainly a major factor in the development of this situation, but it doesn't stop there. We can have access to the best training in the world and still lack prosperity. Opportunity and determination to press on in spite the odds stacked against us is also a must. Support and encouragement from others, whether they be family, friends or a support groups, is good, but have you ever noticed that some of us make it even though these safety nets are not available to us? In such cases, what do you think causes us to continue trying to succeed in spite of everything against us? Don't you agree that our attitude and our personal sense of self-respect are vital factors stimulating us to find a way to succeed and to make our own opportunity? I really do believe this is the case.
Also, I would like to say "hats off," to the gentleman from Texas (response 12) who recognizes the need to make good use of individuals natural abilities and unique personal strengths. If more rehab workers would capitalize on the individual's natural abilities such as this one, more of the unemployed blind would find themselves in the ranks the working forces. After all, isn't utilizing ones natural talents and abilities a form of education as much as is that of book learning? Perhaps we need to redefine or take a closer look at our definition of education.”
Freda Trusty-Dotson (Pensacola Florida) firstname.lastname@example.org)
FROM ME: “How would you answer this lady?”
**28. “When I was young, I was embarrassed by blind beggars and afraid of being judged as one by others. I went to college, figuring that would keep me out of the streets.
I believed that a blind beggar either felt sorry for themselves, didn't know any better, or just didn't care.
My first encounter with a blind beggar was at an NFB convention in New Orleans, more than 20 years ago. We were young, embarrassed, and hurried by. We were afraid to be seen with him. We didn't give him any coins. We felt sad that he wasn't attending our meetings and learning something but did we invite him in? No. Maybe we were afraid of being mugged or raped or something. But we got him out of our lives and minds as quickly as we could--typical young persons, right!
I'm sure there have been others in Chicago, Los Angeles, and other large cities I've visited, maybe even n Omaha where I used to live, but I was not in contact with them directly. Well, except the people who would get right up against my body, asking for a quarter in downtown Omaha when I was working down there. That was scary because I sensed that they weren't just interested in getting a quarter from me and I didn't trust them--especially the guy who grabbed the other end of my cane and dragged me across the street near the I R S office. (I'm sure now he meant well but it scared the whatever out of me.)
Well, now I've discovered that there is at least one blind beggar here in Seattle and he is quite well-known by the blind community in general. His name is Mark. Various blind persons have down-right asked him why he's out there begging when he could get a "real job." He laughs and says he's making more money than most of the blind people he knows who are busy looking for work and are unhappy. He has friends down there on the streets of Seattle; regular friends and new people he meets all the time. Sometimes he gets donations in the monitory sense and almost always gets rewards in the attention he gets. He is not lonely. He doesn't worry where his next meal is coming from; he has several places to choose from right there. He likes to be out, rain or shine. He doesn't care what other blind people think of him. He can think about what he wants to and do what he wants to and except for the occasional questions, no one bothers him.
We've passed him, but haven't struck up a conversation with him nor have we given him anything. Hmmmmm. But I think the One who created that guy loves him just as much as some rich blind person--I don't know very many.)--but I still don't want to be one!)
At first I thought "What a black-and-white, all-or-none extremes-on-the-continuum story; nothing to do with real life; certainly fiction. But there was a certain gracefulness, hopefulness, and balancing of roles that interested me. Could there be more of that in the real world, things might be better for us all.”
Laurie Merryfield (Seattle, Washington USA)
FROM ME: “This lady speaks of being afraid of the blind beggar. What is this fear made up of? She is not the only one I’ve heard state this.”
**29. “My response to this particular thought provoker is Whether we're blind or sighted disabled or non-non-disabled we must all try to lift each other up. When the second blind man met the first one who was begging he not only dropped a coin into the tin cup but he took him to visit his rich friend instead of handing him a coin and leaving him on the street.”
Kevin Lofton (ACB List, email@example.com)
**30. “Along that same vein, there are a seemingly ever increasing division of types of intelligence's being defined by Psychologist and Psychometrists. It seems to me as virtually everyone has a niche, the trick being to discover it. For instance, the role of the beggar. Thomas Cutsforth, a blind Psychologist who wrote, "The Blind in School and Society" among other works, wrote that beggars too have a role. They function to expiate the sense of guilt felt by the abled bodied society--sightlings in particular--for not integrating blind folks into society, or giving us opportunities to be employed or socially relevant...
My perspective on mendicancy has changed and softened through the years… When in high school, a blind friend and I (he was the keyboardist in a band > in which I was the drummer) met a blind guy at the symphony. We were members of the Music Honors Society (tri-m Modern Music Masters). We weren't > very adept at handing out tickets and escorting symphony patrons to their seats, so, we were sat in the handicapped section--first row--of the hall and met this guy. We ragged his ass severely for, as we saw it, making our lives and those of other blind people harder because he was maintaining the stereotype of the "blind beggar". He said, "I went to "Juliards" (don't have any clue as to the real spelling!) and tried to make a career playing concert piano, to no avail." He asked us to come back and talk to him when we were pulling $800 per week, as he did during the tourist season in Miami, where we lived... > I've never made $800 per week on a regular basis, and doubt seriously I ever will--and that was in 1968... So, he had his point. I've also heard other tales, from mobility instructors, of blind guys fist fighting for good street corner locations in New York, having come from chauffeur driven limos… Certainly, material acquisitions aren't the whole reason for our lives, and can't afford total happiness, but they certainly help! (grin)
I think the real secret is finding and maintaining the enjoyment in one's station/niche in society, whatever that may be. For me, if it is an honest way of earning a living, not hurtful to anyone, then, it's OK. We may debate about how much mendicancy hurts us collectively, but as was pointed out we I was an undergraduate Visual Disabilities Education Major, "successful beggars must be on station at least through out the working week, rain or shine, to prove their reality and get repeat business/contributions...” If we really want to get down on ourselves, aren't those of us who have decided perhaps in sincerity, perhaps in hubris, perhaps because we felt at the time it was the best option--to go in to the field of education/rehabilitation of the blind and visually disabled, some might call us exploiters of the plight of the blind in > society, living off the less aggressive, or less well-educated/motivated blind... Certainly, while working as a rehabilitation teacher, and even while working in the field of adaptive technology for the blind, I have had those charges levied against me by very sincere and angry blind people, asking why they couldn't be or weren't in my shoes. Any answer I had, such as "a high level of motivation and ability to get back after being knocked down, part heredity, and part training from teachers and family" could have been knocked down by their logic as self-serving bourgeois republican Horatio Alger type blather… (smile) As George Harrison sang, "It's all up to what you value in your motor car. It's all up to what you value no matter who you are. It's what you value...”
Walter Nick Dotson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
FROM ME: “What about this theory of a blind beggar expiating the sense of guilt felt by the sighted? And second, as I think of what is relayed in this response and at least one other, that the beggar says he’s making more money than the working blind guy; what is the good, the bad and ugly of this fact?”
**31. “What I am made to think of after reading this story is how we are at different levels of development around this world. In some countries the general population has the attitude that begging is higher on the norm for disabled people and where in other countries it is an exception or very low on the norm. I realize that live in general is harder is some countries than others. I also wonder how religion plays into all this?”
Charles Hueo (USA)
**32. “I definitely think that there are some issues re attitudes and expectations in the story. Obviously one has a positive attitude about blindness and one does not. One expects little while the other has approached society and life with confidence and feeling of equality of opportunity. just like the whole range of persons in society, one using what they have and one using what others have.
But let me not repeat what others have already addressed and addressed very well. I want to focus on this from a bit of a different perspective.
When I was considering supporting changes at our Center which required Braille for all students, including those with vision, someone asked me "Why should a person who has some vision have to take Braille (or other non vision training)"? I began to collect my arsenal of reasons and justification relating to additional tools, basic blindness skills, etc. and then decided on a different approach. I pointed out to this person that persons who come to the Center and have some vision are blind even though they prefer at times to call themselves "visually impaired" or "partially sighted", etc. Such a person is eligible for Social Security Disability with specific benefits or SSI based on blindness or SSI, reader services, college tuition exemption, rehabilitation training, to apply for the Business Enterprises Program, adaptive technology, etc. and the beat goes on. These are services based on eligibility and an outcome of employment. In our state all require that one is blind and most require an intent to go to or return to work. Yet some of us do not seem to want to go to work, to take the needed training, or even begin to deal with issues related to acknowledging that we are blind, the first step. Some of us are willing to accept everything except blindness and our responsibility to go to work. We want the freebies since we are "entitled" to them because after all we are "blind" in the most pitiful sense of the word. Of course, we are not blind when it comes to taking Braille, taking responsibility -- only when taking . On the other extreme, we have the tin cup scenario, where we are only too quick to acknowledge the traditional stereotype of being blind and carry on as if we are ready and willing to accept the least. some sit around in meaningless and unchallenging programs or just stay at home and only step out to collect, cash or use our benefits. Instead of striving for opportunity and going for the gold, we settle for what can be had in the tin cup based on the sympathy of others. Two different dysfunctional approaches to blindness but with the same negative results for self and others who are blind.
Yes, for others who are blind and who may be trying to get decent training, trying to deal with their own and society's negative attitudes toward blindness, trying to get all the skills , trying to develop the positive attitude, trying to set a positive example about blindness and blind persons. The guy who took the coin in his cup and followed the man to the wine garden, he makes it tougher for the rest of us. If I were the guy giving the toast, I might have poured the wine over his head or clunked him in the head with the glass to get his attention. "What are you doing to us by begging like that"? I might demand. If the wine was White Zinfindel, I would not have wasted it on him.”
Edwin Kunz (Austin, Texas USA)
**33. “An interesting Provoker, especially in an election season. I do know that we have over 70% unemployment in the blind community. I also know that when I was employed, doing telephone consultation, while on Social Security, the employment nearly destroyed my life! Even though I remained UNDER the earnings limit at the time, and was scrupulous in reporting every dime of income, staying well within the guidelines, I was hit with the dreaded "overpayment" and had my SSI cut again and again, and now, six years AFTER I quit, I am STILL repaying the system! What frightens me is that blind persons who attempt to leave Social Security, like a beggar giving up his tin cup, may end up paying the penalties levied by "The System". It seems somehow wrong, to me, that when a person does attempt to become self sufficient, that they may end up worse off than before. I'm told that the SSI has been revamped to prevent this happening again, but I am justifiably fearful! The ledge I am on is far too thin and crumbly to risk (and I do mean RISK) "going for the gold" again! Not all persons who remain on Social Security do so out of laziness... some do it out of rightful fear of consequences they have already experienced first hand! Six years of repayment (with another four to go) are an awfully high price to pay for temporary gain.”
**34. “Give me a break! Sorry Chicago but I'm glad that a sighted woman in Baltimore wasn't afraid of offending me when she hooked me up with a man named Dr. Fred Schroeder. If she had chosen to avoid interfering and assumed I was right where I wanted to be, I would be in a dead end job, getting less than minimum wage and hating every minute of it. Because she presumed, I met a blind man who did what I wanted to do and I'm now teaching cane travel in Nebraska. Yes, I get to be out in the sun and the autumn leaves, and the snow and the rain and the slush. And when my feet hurt at night, I think, 'Ah what a small price to pay for my cup of gold', then I say a word of thanks to the almighty for the blind. and the sighted who helped me get it.”
Jane Lansaw (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)
**35. “EXPECTATIONS, EXPECTATIONS, EXPECTATIONS!!! We are in part what they say we are, but mostly we are who we say we are. This PROVOKER is all about what the world understands about blindness. It is about what we need to be doing about what the world knows, feels and does about we who are blind. This is especially for parents, for teachers and for counselors; they have the biggest adult responsibility for helping us to grow. But, this also has to do with our peers; our kid friends, our adult friends. We need to educate them/us all. First, like the last THOUGHT PROVOKER, we need to band together to become a strong influence to all other groups; groups is what seems to make things happen in this world. Next, we need to work hard as individuals to live the honest and responsible lives as we know we can and should; not manipulate the sighted to make it easy for us (being blind can make some things harder to do). Yes, we are better today, but more is needed. Go for the gold, know that gold is possible, there for the reach.”
Robert Hamand (USA)
**36. “Well, begging may be accepted in other countries, but I think it is deplorable here, where there are other options. Those do include SSI or SSDI, and I do not think that is begging. For a host of reasons, many, even most, blind people cannot get jobs.”
Carol Ashland (Eugene, Organ USA)
**37. “This was truly a "thought provoker." It reminded me of a situation I encountered several years ago while on my way home from work. I was getting ready to cross a fairly busy street. It was Friday night and rather busy downtown. This guy came up and grabbed me by the arm and offered to help me across the street. I said no thanks, but the guy started yanking me into the street. At that point, I wasn't going to argue with him. His breath strongly smelled of alcohol and he had clearly had a few too many. I definitely kept my ears open as we crossed that street. When we got to the other side, he asked me if I had any money to give him. This was a sad situation in several ways. First, it was annoying to have someone grab me like that. Second, it was sad that the guy didn't know how to take no for an answer and assumed that I needed assistance. Third, it was sad that he was very drunk and begging for money. I guess this was a combination of someone begging and also wanting some sort of payment for a service offered to a blind lady.
I think it often happens that we assume that the person who makes more money, has a happier life, or has the greater ability is necessarily the sighted person. We need to remind ourselves and our sighted counterparts that we can be the givers and the servers and need not always be the receivers.”
Kathy McGillivray (Minneapolis, Minnesota USA email@example.com)
FROM ME: “I once was standing at a bus stop with several others; I was the only disabled/blind person there. A pan-handler started going down the line of us asking for money; starting at the other end from me. When He got to me, he said, “Hey buddy, Can you…” then he noticed my long white cane and then he said, ‘Oh sorry.” And left. Now what does that tell you?”
**38. “I have been blind for two years. Since I started going blind I have been involved in the blind community in Maryland and Colorado. For these two years I have heard in regards to finding a job is to expect discrimination, discrimination, discrimination.
I spent the last year traveling around the world with a group called Up With People. I am now off the road and need to find work to live. I have applied at five businesses. At these five businesses I have been faced with nothing but acceptance. The employer liked me a lot and very much wanted to hire me. None of them can hire me , however, because of technology barriers.
With one employer they had done all the research into making their industry software accessible but have had no luck. The programming of the software will not allow compatibility with JAWS. Another employer is in the process of turning over to another software system. It will take six months before it is ready. Another is working on it currently but is running into problems with some of the screens.
In case you wondering of there is discrimination I check this out to make sure that it is not. When an employer knows the technology, terminology’s, people and organizations I know of, I know they are not joking.
So now I am bewildered by the fact that I cannot find employment not because of internal barriers or because of discrimination. It is because of technology. I am amazed that ADA has touched everyone’s life in this country in one way or another but it has not touched software. In today’s business world if you cannot use a computer you cannot work and it won't even matter what you are like on the inside. Now, that is not to say that there no jobs out there and that discrimination does not happen. They do but I am truly concerned about the possibility for employment when businesses are slow to making their systems compatible and there is no one advocating this development.”
Harris Singer (Denver, Colorado USA)
**39. “<< FROM ME: "In regard to the person referred to in this response who is 'milking' the system, what do you think? Where is he at in his adjustment? What do you think will better assist him at this stage?" (Response 19.) >> I can think of a few things 1. Losing his GPA to drink. Any distraction will do. I was temporarily distracted by a man while I was at college. Devote all your time to something, and other things fall by the wayside. 2. If he finds a girl/guy (I don't recall the sex of the drinker who is milking the system) who takes a look at what he is doing and walks away despite feeling between them. 3. If he gets out into the world, and in his first job is handed an assignment where he has to get his own adaptive technology but no one wants to pay for it. That will happen too. 4. If he has a religious experience. 5. If the political climate changes and the bottom drops out of the handouts. Oh well. Forgive me for my cynicism, but I don't like people like this.”
Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)
**40. “’going for the gold’ is what we the blind and visually impaired are not always encouraged to do. Looking around the world, it would be correct to say that going for and achieving the Gold is not the norm for us. This is the stark reality of life as we know it. But to be fair, with life being as it is, if one looks closely, more of the disabled are getting more encouragement and are achieving more positives in life. It is forum like this one, being open to the world which will further our aspirations and achievements. Keep up the good global work, all.”
Hons Meyers (Germany)
**41. “We are our brothers keeper. This is a teaching which is found in many religions. We see in this short story the passer by, the friend seeing in the beggar the need for him to see beyond his poor means. And so he invites him to meet a friend, a man similar in physical status which in and of itself can be seen as limited. But first, I see the successful blind man, being a friend to the sighted man as the first keeper of his brother, the sighted man; look what he has taught him.”
Sarah Rising (Michigan USA)
**42. “Given that the tale appears to be from a much earlier era, I think that one's path in life was (and often still is) largely determined by the social status into which one was (or is) born: one born to wealth who is accustomed to and, thus, learns to expect prosperity; one born to poverty who has received little and, thus, is grateful for every crumb (or drop) that happens to come his way and doesn't even recognize wealth when it confronts him. While one can read the tale and come away with the interpretation that success is all a matter of attitude and expectation, one can also read it as showing that economic wealth can make all of the difference in attitude and expectation and, consequently, the likelihood of success. How many of the blind people whom we are taught to view as a success stories and role models were in fact born to wealthy families and did not have to face the basic economic struggle to survive?”
Jeanine Worden (Arlington, Virginia USA)
FROM ME: ‘Question- When a person of a wealthy/privileged class is either born blind or becomes so, is their adjustment to blindness more successfully than some one of a lesser monetary or social status?”
**43. “A very interesting thought provoker and one that I had to sit down and think about quite a bit before responding. As previous people have mentioned, it is deplorable to see anyone have to degrade themselves to begging for money to sustain their existence. Take away the fact the beggar is blind and remember that that person is a human being first and that their disability is second. One day in turn the roles in the story may be reversed and it would be interesting to see that the blind beggar has the humanity within themselves to return the gesture, which I took was not given in any way but a positive one of extending the hand of friendship.”
Jeffrey Pledger (Burtonsville, Maryland USA)
FROM ME: “Question- After some one has ‘MADE IT’ or you fill in the phrase for ‘SUCCESS,’ do these types/persons turn around and extend a helping hand to others who have not yet ‘MADE IT?’ Or might it be fairer to ask, what qualities might need to be in place to bring this about in some one who has made it to extend a helping hand?”
**44. “I think that the individual who works and the individual who does not should be thought of with equal respect as they are at liberty to choose what for them in their lives is tin and what is gold. For some achieving gold may involve climbing the ladder to the top of their career and succeeding at everything they do. For another achieving gold in life may be living in their own house or flat gaining independence after sight loss.
As Blind or Partially Sighted people we are too often told rightly or wrongly what we should be doing with our lives and how we should be striving towards independence. I believe that the gift of life on this earth is precious should we really be living it as role models or as our true selves? In every community there are people who are ambitious and people who aren't why should the Blind community be any different.”
Jayne Connor (High Harrington, England)
FROM ME: “Several questions arise from this response- a. ‘…..equal respect as they are at liberty to choose what for them in their lives is tin and what is gold…..’ A person’s choice is to be respected, right? What if a person knowingly and willingly chooses tin over gold? Is one person’s tin another person’s gold or the other way around? Does a blind person have the liberty in your culture to choose?
b. ‘….. should we really be living it as role models or as our true selves?…..’ Is being a role model always a chosen and conscious thing? Ever felt you were a role model when it wasn’t your intent to do so? Who or when or how makes the best role model?”
**45. again through this all comes on attitudes and perceptions. We can look at many variables from the entire system of our country all the way down to the individuals in this story. I think when I hear other blind people who I work with that are looking for work and how the old phrase of my counselor has not done a dam thing for me. Yes wee all have barriers to deal with as blind people but so does everyone disabled or not. Demonstrate by example and educating society will become easier and less of an effort. The newly blind need to learn from those blind people who are doing well and even for those blind who are doing well your potential is endless.”
Craig Hedgecock (Troy, New York USA)
**46. "<< How many of the blind people whom we are taught to view as a success stories and role models were in fact born to wealthy families and did not have to face the basic economic struggle to survive?" >>
Quick answer: Those who are successes who were not born to wealth either were very sharp and fashioned their own rehab or went to NFB centers. You know David's family was extremely poor, right? If he hadn't been blind, he wouldn't have finished high school, much less college, as his mother would have made him go to work for her. She tried it after he finished his Masters, and I liberated him. But he didn't start with all the advantages, that I can assure you. What is success, anyway? I know people from wealthy families who can't find their way in their own homes. If you consider that success, I don't know what you wouldn't consider success.”
Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)
**47. "In December, 1982, I had just received my first Leader Dog and was at the local mall doing my Christmas shopping. After completing my shopping, I was waiting for the bus and took off my stocking cap to scratch my head. A little old lady in the Christmas spirit walked by;, wished me a Merry Christmas and threw eight quarters in my hat. As I stood there stunned in disbelief she had already walked into the mall and I couldn't return her money. For a moment I thought, I wonder how long it would take me to pay for these presents I just bought. I boarded the bus and went home.”
Wayne Jolin (Saginaw, Michigan USA)
**48. "I've also had the same kind of experience. When my husband and I live on the north part of the town of Laramie, we would often take our canes and walk downtown to get a bite to eat. One time, we went into this restaurant for dinner. Of course, we were both using our canes so we needed a booth so we could put them out of the way. We enjoyed a good meal. I went to the counter to pay our check and it had already been paid. We had no idea who paid for our ticket because there wasn't anyone in the restaurant we knew.
I am thankful for the generosity and shouldn't bite the hand that fed me - literally, but I do agree that people still have a lot to learn. We were self sufficient enough to get there and back home. I guess it happens once in a while."
Bonnie Ainsworth (Laramie, Wyoming USA)
**49. "I had an interesting experience regarding this a couple weeks or so ago. I had just left my bank after getting my cash for the week and was waiting for my cab ride to the grocery store when someone saw me waiting with my cane extended in front of me. The man who saw me tried to hand me some cash but I turned it down. Two reasons for that. First, I didn't know him and not in the habit of accepting things from people who I don't know for obvious reasons of security. Secondly he of course didn't know that I'm self sufficient enough to have a part time customer service job. He was well intentioned but uninformed. This shows that there is still a ways to go in educating the public on the abilities of the blind. It's a continual job with every new generation. The lessons must always be taught anew or are forgotten if they were learned in the first place. Thanks for letting me share this experience.”
Bill Outman (USA)
FROM ME: So what do you have to say about the above three rsponses? What about the well meaning people? what were their expectations; the Giver, the blind people? What about the fact they didn't ask or make any comment or give the blind guy any chance to respond? How might be the various ways that the blind person might react to the Giver or feel within themselves? How does this differ from the other accounts of people who reported seeing a blind man actively begging?"
**50. "While listening to this I hear a lot of representation. The beggar seems to me to be what a lot of sighted people, especially in the past, see as your typical blind man. I mean lets face it, in ages past that is what blind people were, beggars. They begged for alms in order for them to get what they needed to survive. Now to me the second character represents the potential of the blind of America today. It shows that we can become rich, and/or successful business people.
Finally, the stranger represents a sort of mediator. Some one that enlightens the beggar, showing him that there is more to his existence.”
Brent Heyen Chadron State College )Chadron, Nebraska USA)
**51. "the clink of coins had me going ...especially on the slant on social security .... to me it was not that at all ..there was an underlying thread that seemed to have been missed in that here it was three people ...joined together as comrades ... the simple acceptance of those for who they were and then followed it on with a unity in the spirit and rejoicing of being with companions ..... each accepted for who they were ... maybe I am the odd one in the thinking here not sure but that is a little bit of what I wanted to explore.”
Julie Robottom (Northern Region Gresswell Cluster Australia)