Saturday, 7 April 2012

A Blind Blogger

Not many of my readers will know this, but I was born blind.

I assert that it is no moral failing of mine - or my parents - that led to this.   Anyone who calls me a sinner based on this has departed from Christianity.

Naturally, life has certain complications when one does not have the gift of sight.  It can seem very unfair, and understandably, I resent any unjust discrimination against blind people.

I have various options in my response to this:

  1. I could be depressed and self-pitying, railing agains the unfairness of everything.
  2. I could accept it as a cross to bear, and strive to live as normal - and as cheerful - a life as I can, whilst recognising the reality that there are certain things I will never be able to do, as sight is integral to them.
  3. I could celebrate it as a blessing and affirm it as a good, and strive to prove that there is nothing, literally nothing, that a blind person cannot do on the same terms as a sighted person.
That third option is the one I want to explore a little further this morning.

It may sound the most positive of the three, but it is not.  It is not, because it is delusional.  Being blind is not a blessing, but a deficiency.  There are things I cannot do - because there are things to which sight is integral.

Although I was born blind, and in that sense it is natural to me, it is not how man is meant to be: that much is clear simply by looking around me (you may have noticed I don’t shy away from visual words, either - ever heard of the ‘mind’s eye’?)

So to treat blindness as a blessing is, as I said, delusional; and look where it leads. To sustain the delusion, I may start to identify myself primarily by my blindness, and all sorts of damaging consequences will follow.

For example, I will start to see the unfairness that is inherent in being blind as injustice directed at me.  Why should others be allowed to do things that I can’t?  Why was I not allowed to play tennis at school?  Why am I not allowed a driving licence? ‘They’ have got something against blind people.  What unjust discrimination!

Such a sense of grievance is easy to nurture when one is in a minority, when everyone takes the majority experience as normative.  But the truth is, it is normative.  We cannot, and should not, try to order the world so that being sighted confers no advantage - because man is meant to be sighted.
But what if I took it further? 

Suppose I insisted that language be stripped of every word pertaining to the visual, as it oppressed me (and other blind people) for such language to be used.

Suppose I demanded that the Church, in solidarity with such an oppressed minority, removed all visual symbolism from its buildings and ceremonies.

Suppose I denounced any doctor trying to cure blindness as an evil bigot, and any blind person seeking such a cure as damaged and oppressed.

Suppose I argued that being blind is such a blessing that others should be free to experience it too.  Let us remove the taboos we enjoin on our children to prevent that.  Let them learn to gaze on the noon day sun: after all, I do, and I can tell you from experience it is a lovely feeling.  And if doing so, some children become blind, well, there is nothing wrong with that: blindness is a blessing, after all.

Blindness is not, of course sinful: how could it be?  But it is objectively disordered.  And if one responds in the wrong way, as with anything else in fallen Man, it can become an occasion of sin.


It’s not true, of course (I have always been candid about my mendacity - see the side bar...).  I am not blind.  This is an extended metaphor: re-read it inserting same sex attraction for blind, and changing the examples accordingly...

This is an attempt to explain why one can be against homosexual marriage without hating homosexuals; just as one can oppose blind people being given driving licences without hating blind people: driving a car is something they simply cannot do.  One can even be against children being taught that homosexuality is a blessing without hating homosexuals.  And one can certainly oppose a homosexual lobby that seeks to hold homosexuality up as a blessing... without hating homosexuals.

Or to put it another way, option two is the Christian response.


Ttony said...

I really, really, like this analogy, especially the example of the driving license.

dancingcrane said...

One of the best ways to address the topic that I have yet seen, thank you!