by Chris Heuer
I have a question. Why do you hate me so much?
Was I ever in the position to choose what parents I was born to? No.
The family I was born into? No.
The genes I was born with? No.
The school I was sent to? No.
The native language I was first exposed to? No.
Therefore it seems kind of stupid to me that anyone should ever hate me, personally, the responsible, decision-making, can-steer-the-direction-in-which-his-life-is-heading me, for not being born deaf, for not having deaf parents, and for not having attended a residental state school for the deaf my whole life, and for not having generation upon generation of deaf relatives.
Did I attend the Milan conference? No.
Did I invent audism? No.
Do I support audism? No.
Do I actively, consciously oppress deaf people? No.
Therefore it seems kind of unreasonable to me that anyone should hate me, personally, for trying to deal with the world as I’ve found it. I didn’t create it, but I do have to live in it. I didn’t create the medical model of deafness, nor did I create the cultural model of deafness. But like it or not, those are the two models that are here, and it’s up to me to either stand still right where I am, or else try to find my own path between them. If you’re going to hate me for doing either, or neither, or both, well… wow. What will you be satisfied with?
If you hate me because I used to SIMCOM, but now I’ve agreed with you that SIMCOMing is destructive, and therefore I’ve turned my voice off… then why do you still hate me?
If you hate me because I won’t get an implant and rarely wear my hearing aids, nonetheless I don’t block you from getting one or wearing yours, then why should you hate me?
And if you hate me because I won’t bother to learn to lip read, and instead ask you to write to me when you try to communicate with me (assuming you can’t sign), then why should you hate me? It seems like such a waste of energy. Simply leave me alone. You don’t have to talk to me. I don’t have to talk to you. Absolutely nothing is lost if we simply and quietly pass by each other in the hallway. If all that we have to choose between is that and hatred, I pick silence.
Do you hate me as much as you do because you think that I’ve rejected you somehow, or else belittled you in some way? Can you tell me how I’ve done these things? It seems strange that you should hate me as much as you do, yet I don’t remember you even once coming up to me and telling me that I pissed you off in this or that way. I’m not denying that maybe I did say or do something that was insensitive, but why let it fester? Where exactly did I give you the impression that I’m unapproachable? It’s one thing to hate me for what I’m not willing to repair. It’s quite another to hate me while I’m entirely willing to meet you halfway.
Do you hate me because I’m a living reminder of things you won’t face? If so then who you hate isn’t me–it’s yourself.
Do you hate me because I’m a constant reminder of your own laziness? Then the person you hate is yourself.
Is deafness what you hate? Do you see deafness itself as the divider, the reason that we cannot connect? Is that why you therefore hate me as well… because I’m an living extension of deafness? If so then what you hate is your own cowardice, because everything has the potential to be divisive, race, gender, age. Brave people can walk, will walk, and have walked the divide, exploring and making the expanse their home. Cowards never have and never will.
If you want to hate me so much, hate me in my moments of weakness when I give in and hate you back, and thus reflect you. Then your hatred for me will be in keeping with your hatred for yourself. That’s what mutual contempt is: self-hatred through Other-hatred. It isn’t pretty to look at. Hardly surprising, therefore, that we spend so much of our lives looking away, is it? Looking for distraction, actively seeking out more denial, actively widening the divide between us all so that we can more effectively escape from ourselves.
I’ll bet you any money that’s what you’re doing right now… looking away, squirming in every which direction. Trying to escape from what you know is true.