by Chris Heuer
You know, I just wanted to ask… do any of you ever get scared?
On the one hand, we’ve got hearing people who call themselves “lifelong educators in the field of Deaf Ed,” people who have been working with deaf students for twenty years (or even, in one case, forty) calling us things like temperamental children, spoiled children,” etc, or saying we throw “temper tantrums…” to having fellow deaf people refer to us with terms such as “old Deaf Guards” or “ASL militants,” or terrorists, anarchists, mobs, etc…
… to our own administrators’ names showing up in the Washington Post saying they’ve done this or that, to one of our BOT’s email messages containing his mockery of the difficulties many of us have with English show up on a blog…
…to just… all of this hatred, this shame and rage that people are desparately trying to wipe off of themselves and onto someone else… this bitterness, this desire for revenge, this hostility…
…does it ever just scare the hell out of you? Does it scare you to have your fear of that hatred, the very emotion of fear itself, used against you by own your workplace’ PR messages, accusing you and those around you of using the word “fear” to garner more attention to your ’cause’?
Does it scare you to know that the world largely sees you as an extension of a disease, a medical malady… to know that they basically just want to wipe that disease out–something you don’t see as a disease–and thus in effect wipe out the very thing that makes you what you are at your core—and what’s more, do it cheerfully, thinking they’re serving you, thinking that you should feel thankful for what they’ve done for humankind…
Are you ever scared of all of that? When you realize that no matter what you do, no matter how much you empower yourself, you’re still trapped on this crazilly tilting raft called “reality” as it speeds around the rim of a giant whirlpool (sucking us all who knows where)?
Do you ever just sometimes close your eyes, ignoring those angry mental faces from the past as they tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself, and just pray for a moment of calm, a moment of relative stability, just so you can get your bearings? Just so you can sit down and begin the impossible job of figuring out how to row, or if necessary, swim out of a whirlpool?
I don’t know about you, but I get scared.
And tonight I just want to say to whoever thought up that assinine line in the first place, that PR message from Gallaudet that said we’re all just touting the word fear to get attention… to hell with you. Really, what a shitty, unnecessary, stupid, mean-spirited, ugly thing to accuse someone of. I find impossible to imagine how anyone alive could be that ignorant, that arrogant, that hardened to the perils of human struggle and suffering, and come up with a line like that. Impossible to imagine someone could really believe something like that… and be that hateful.
And yet, obviously you exist.
You’re a coward. You’re exactly the type of person I detest having to share this planet with. Hey… I want to tell you this: in the midst of all of my fear… you are the one thing I’m never going to allow myself to be afraid of. You’re beneath me from here on out… a microbe. Come and try to stab me in the back if you can. My name is right there… Chris Heuer. You know me, but I don’t know you, and thus can never know what direction you’ll come from. Nonetheless, that’s the extent to which I’ve decided to not be afraid of you. I invite you. I invite your attack. I want to face you. I’m going to use you to to prove that people can heal in the midst of hate. I’m going to prove they can grow and thrive despite you. Come at me with your knife and draw my blood–you’re not getting me on the first swipe, I guarantee you–and when you run away I’m going to follow the trail of red right back to you. When I get there I’m going to have that cut stitched up. I’m going to have not bled to death.
And I’m going to force you to come to terms with the fact that no matter how much you cut me, you’ll never kill me. I will bring you to terms with the fact that my faith in myself is stronger than your contempt for my existence.