Blind Man Fighting

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To steal a line from Peter Gabriel “I was taught to fight, taught to win”. My parents would tell me when I was growing up that they are raising me differently then they did my sister. They were teaching me to fight for myself. Being disabled is tough it can be a “fight”. Recently as I’ve come out blind I’ve learned new words other than “fight” such as advocate such as peace.

I have learned the hard way “fighting” I was taught to fly the disabled banner tol smote you if you don’t give me what I want. There was a recent example where a person in a wheelchair claimed a building was inaccessible and refused to participate in an event. This gained some noise in the local news and quickly went away when people dug into it. There was a lift and he refused to use it. This is lame. When we use our disability for a cause we are doing such a disservice to ourselves and others with disability. We loose credibility, we lie. In grade eight I had a teacher who called me “blind Bergum”, I used my disability to “fight” and this ignorant fellow was dismissed. I’m still not proud of it.

I have learned the hard way “fighting” I was taught to fly the disabled banner tol smote you if you don’t give me what I want. There was a recent example where a person in a wheelchair claimed a building was inaccessible and refused to participate in an event. This gained some noise in the local news and quickly went away when people dug into it. There was a lift and he refused to use it. This is lame. When we use our disability for a cause we are doing such a disservice to ourselves and others with disability. We loose credibility, we lie. In grade eight I had a teacher who called me “blind Bergum”, I used my disability to “fight” and this ignorant fellow was dismissed. I’m still not proud of it.

I have left behind the word fighting as in my personal and professional life it has not served me. I prefer to advocate the carnage the wreckage I’ve left behind is embarrassingly large. The collateral damage such that I’m not sure any level of foreignness will make it right. There are many things I would do differently now. “Everybody plays Everybody wins” is my motto now.

I have been in physical fights and to steal a line from the newest Karate Kid movie, “when fighting a blind man its best to stand back”. I think you get the picture. If you are in a situation that requires you to consider physical violence then get out of it. In school there was this bully who would torment all of us really. He was picking on my sister one day so I got off the bus and tried to fight with him. It was a joke it was embarrassing. Everyone wanted this kid too take a licking but no one would do anything about it. As an aside it must have been humorous to those watching a blind kid a disabled kid taking on the bully, what a pathetic joke. The school bus driver even waited for us to finish and gave me a ride home with the warning that “next time he’d have to report me to the school principle, but not this time”, I got one for free. At home I thought I’d be in real trouble because I’d hit this kid so hard my knuckles were cracked open bleeding. I didn’t, confusing really, my dad gave me a “way to go”. I wasn’t so sure. I was ashamed.

These days physical violence is a quick way to get very hurt or dead. People regularly carry knives or weapons and if you being the disabled person are forced to fight call for help, call the police, call anyone who will help. Spending some time in the US you come to understand that anyone could be carrying a gun, so it forces everyone to behave better. There is some wild west truth in that statement, unfortunately. Coming back to Canada or to Calgary its not fair to generalize they always say Canadians are polite and friendly, Calgary could use some manners. The other truth about carrying a weapon is that most incidents where it is required it is used against you instead. Arming the villain isn’t my first choice and choosing the weapon that will decide my demise is ridiculous. If you own a weapon you have to be ready and willing at a seconds notice to use it to kill, then what if your wrong? An ATF agent friend told me if you use a weapon in self defense you have to use it and ask questions later and by the way fire a couple in the celling so they can’t charge you with anything.

What about those times when no one comes to our rescue. Unfortunately we all have those experiences at some point in our life we take our licks and we move on hopefully. I’m lucky I’m BIG and I’m LOUD I’ve been able to scare them off so far. When I get old I’ll just have to start being more careful. Being disabled you have a different level of physical vulnerability, don’t go looking for trouble because it will find you and pummel you into the ground. Just don’t do it.

If you are in a situation where you’re being bullied or abused get yourself out of the situation or escalate until the situation is changed. Ultimately strive for peace and resolution. I have learned that I can’t “fight” I can’t be sighted, I can’t be more disabled or disabled in the way you want me to be, I can’t be the person you want me to be, I can’t present the persona to be a director at Microsoft, I can’t. Fighting for me turned into lying. Deception fighting for acceptance, when the problem at the end of the day was with me. So I stopped fighting I stopped lying I stopped pretending.

When your disabled you are offensive to a segment of the population right from the get go. What I’ve realized is that my unacceptability to anyone is directly proportional to how badly they think of themselves. Do you see the power here? The strength to turn an adversarial situation into an advocacy situation. The avenue for peace, if you have it in you to somehow enable them their adversity to you will disappear, honest. Peace.

When your disabled or not and you’re living a life that is contrary to who and what you are you will constantly be fighting. I could never live up to my parents expectations or their issues with my disability, never, so I stopped trying. I could never live up to being not disabled, so I stopped trying. I could never live up to partners of mine in “love” who wanted me to be disabled in a different way or more reliant on them or less reliant on them or to be someone or something else.

It all comes down to self esteem. The better I feel about my self my true self, in honesty, not deception I am at peace. The more I stop trying to be “normal” whatever that means or not disabled, whatever that means, or liked, or popular, or loved. The more I just be me. The more peace has come into my life and I’d don’t have to fight. More importantly I don’t have to “fight” me. In the end I was fighting me. I am still blind I’m still disabled in fighting I’m gyrating around trying to be something I’m not or prove something I can’t. So I just stopped.

I am attracting a different sort of people now. I didn’t believe they existed really, a sort o people that can deal with just me. I have given up on those who need to take care of me or help me so they can feel good about themselves. Use me to make themselves feel good, they make me feel dirty. They take away my dignity and self respect if I let them. I have lost myself in life a few times trying to live up to or be something I’m not, I wont do it again.

I have given up on those that need a facade a perception that I really can’t maintain. I don’t have enough energy for that at the end of the day. Being disabled and blind is enough it takes enough energy accommodating my needs, I am who I am, no more no less. Its very freeing because I don’t have pretend I don’t have to lie I don’t have to fight. At the end how much I have to “fight” is up to you not up to me. Chose the fights that need fighting. I can choose to engage you or, not. How much of an advocate or activist I am is dependent on how offensive I am to you, how offensive my disability, my condition, place in life is to you, nothing more or nothing less.

At this point in my life i have laid down the sword I have realized the only person I have ever fought is myself, and I’m tired of smiting, mutilating, or killing myself. It never made you happy and it never will. I chose peace to take care of me. I have laid the sword down and when it calls me I walk away and choose peace.

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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