Planting Seeds Blog Post | Soaring Into Greatness

Planting Seeds

I created a phrase called “The Devil God syndrome” to describe how people subconsciously treat blind people.

The Devil refers to when people perceive us as less than/have low expectations of what we can do. My own father would say, “How do you get down these flights of stairs?” To which I either retorted, I walked, or, Prince Charming came every morning to carry me and my Seeing Eye dog down the 16 concrete steps! Either way, this intelligent civil engineer somehow couldn’t fathom my independence of being able to take care of myself.

The God part is when people think I’m miraculous just for standing in one place without doing anything. I like to be appreciated for job well done; singing a song well, playing piano, winning Ms. Colorado Senior America; however, just to get accolades for nothing is demeaning.

In my Soaring into Greatness book, I tell a story regarding my voice teacher Margaret Thuenemann and I:

“Back at school, I focused on singing. Miss T always edified me putting my voice first and my blindness second. She didn’t put me on a pedestal, treating me as if I were a God; nor did she pity me, presuming I couldn’t do anything, drawing out negative “devil” energy. In my experience, people seem to have a hard time understanding that I’m not superior or better than they are; nor am I flawed, incapable, or worse than they are. I’m just me, and want to be treated by others as they’d treat anyone else. Miss T understood this.”

For example, once I auditioned in Springfield, Missouri, and the judge said, “Your trill is beautiful. How long have you been trilling?”
I told her, “A week-and-a-half.”
“Oh, keep up the good work.”

I finished the audition and walked off the stage humiliated. Miss T, my accompanist, and I knew my trill needed more work; yet, the one who thought it was superb was the near-sighted judge. After the award ceremonies, all three of us walked out and into the winter’s cold. As we crossed the parking lot, the judge ran up to us. “Excuse me! I’m sorry I couldn’t give her any placement, but I wanted you to have this ‘honorable mention’ certificate.”

Miss T was livid. She tore the document in pieces and threw it on the frozen ground. As we sat in the restaurant later, she continued her rampage. “How could she be so insensitive? She must have not had any ears! Anyone who knew anything about voice knew that your trill was crap. You’ve been doing it a short time. You’ve lots of practicing to do before it’s good. Her giving you that certificate was a slap in the face. How dare she! You are blind, not deaf! She patronized you. I’d rather she had given you nothing at all than give you such a piece of crap. She should have judged you on your vocalisms with integrity, but no, she couldn’t do that. She gave you an award just to give you something.”’

I’m bringing this up because one of the things that keeps blind people separate from sighted folks is nonblind people having low expectations on what we as blind people can do. Why else in 2022 would there still be a 70% unemployment or underemployment rate in the USA?

It’s time to do something about this! It’s time to plant seeds of discussions and solutions! It’s time to equalize the playing field! I challenge you to join in the topic, to take action, and to stay tuned to find out more ways YOU can be a part of the change and the solution. In This way, you will change the way you see, and change the way you live!

 

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