Friday, 9 September 2011

WELL-INTENTIONED DAMAGE

I've heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. How true that is. We've all had some well-meaning friend or authority figure ruin something we spent hours making, toss out something we needed, or buy us an inappropriate present. Certain churlish individuals act out of spite but most folks just don't realize the consequences of their deeds.

The motives of those who sent me five hundred miles from home for months at a stretch might have been either honourable or malicious. Whatever they were, I left that institution socially stunted. From Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here's an excerpt that demonstrates the extent of my cultural deprivation.

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My social skills were likewise inadequate from being isolated in Jericho. As a result, I rarely gazed at people who spoke to me. My knowledge of etiquette, beyond saying "please" and "thank-you," was nonexistent. No one even taught me to hold doors open for ladies.

My conversation skills were similarly insufficient. I often answered questions without asking people any. My isolation made relating to sighted students and their activities difficult. They also regarded me as an oddity at best and a freak at worst.

Many of my social blunders were due to adopting mannerisms from the other children at Jericho. I often stared at the ceiling, rocked back and fourth, and held my head at an odd angle. These visually distracting habits were inoffensive to totally blind people but they bothered my sighted acquaintances.

Years later, a church friend told me that I was difficult to be with at first. "You're a likeable person now," she confided.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this compelling story. You
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