the Dividing Factor

I was at a conference some time ago, a few of us got to talking about some stuff and the topic of division came up. Biologically, we are divided up based on geography, environment and social interaction. The heavily categorized divisions that take place in our world now is strongly influenced by those who do not like being different from others. I can understand academically dividing in terms of studying what makes us tick, but to divide us in terms of being different is morally, ethically and basically ignorant.

Dividing through societal activity is discriminatory, segregationist and allows the egocentric ‘superiority’ group to feel that they are above and better the ones ‘below’ them, when they are, in fact, just the same as anyone else.

Let’s take being deaf here. Being deaf is actually a natural part of being human. Why is that different from being a white person? Why divide ourselves on basis of how much we can hear? Being deaf is a naturally occurring part where a diverse range of hearing loss is applied. Because some one can hear better or talk better than one does not make that one person superior to the other. Maybe you think so, but think about it… does being deaf define the whole?  If a deaf person doesn’t speak English but signs ASL and a deaf person who speaks English but doesn’t sign ASL, who would have better communication skills?  Both or neither. It all weighs on the person’s background, first language proficiency, family dynamics, use of tools, acceptance of self and so on… who said being a human is not complicated?

From this complication of being a human, we learn from those who are dominant in societal divisions that it is the right way to do it; when in reality, it makes it worst for us. By nature, we seek those who are like us in many ways: language, traditions, values, or religion. No one is better than the other, no.matter.what. When we gather, we find where our skills contribute best to the group.

Do you know that even as a white person, I may have similar characteristics as a black person?  Or a hearing person could be as deaf as I am? How about an Indian (Asian) whose accent is as bad as mine? So how are you going to divide me? On basis of my being white? On basis of my ability to speak as fluently as a hearing person can be? How do I divide myself when all that I am is the essence of being human?

It had been some time since I last wrote this draft until today so recently I had a conversation with a friend. I do appreciate my friend asking me, really. I was asked when my kids go over to their house for visiting or playing with the kids, that my kids be exposed to sign language or spoken language. Most the family is fluent in sign language, some not so much, but can still communicate. I tried to be honest with myself and my friend, I said I would prefer sign language, especially if my husband and I were around. If we’re not, prefer to have sign language in use half of the time.

My friend said that the kids are hearing. I acknowledged that; however, they are mine and they have the right to have access to both languages. Besides they may be hearing but they are their own person. Like I said to my friend, “You are hearing, but you are Doe*, why divide yourself because you are hearing?”

Those who come from a background similar to mine will find a huge struggle in self because all of our lives we are told we can do anything but there is no guidance or confusing messages all across the board.  To tell you the truth, those divisions become confusing the more I do research or talk to people. The lines of cultural courtesy and linguistic boundaries have become blurred that our next generation will be lost and their roots wild.

Going back to the conference, I talked to a lady after an event; really she was hounding me with a bunch of questions – really good questions. One was ‘why did they accept me?’ because she learned that the deaf community is divided on issues and basically her background is not rooted in deaf but in hearing culture. She only just learned ASL 2 years ago and is in love with it.

I told her that there were several factors to that. “Your family did not make a big deal about you being deaf; they saw that you needed accommodations or resources and they provided you that and more just by accepting who you were.  You are confident in self despite some nervousness about your signing ability – you showed the community that tonight at the event, they saw that and complimented you on your bravery. Not many children have the opportunity you have (as well as another student), the opportunity to develop yourself with out barriers and divisions based by society. Many children who are deaf will be told by families, teachers, organizations and whatnot that they HAVE to be ‘hearing’, thus oppressing the self and making it very difficult to be comfortable wherever they are and with their self.”

This article talks about the ‘classless’ yet we see obvious divisions going on; on a much broader scale.

Do you divide yourself or do others divide you? It is like taking the heart and brain out of my own body and expecting me to survive incomplete.

“I can get up in the morning and look myself in the mirror and my family can look at me too and that’s all that matters.” ~Lance Armstrong

*Name not given for privacy purposes.


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