Would you Could you, in the Dark?

A few nights ago, my seven year-old and I read the Dr. Seuss’ classic Green Eggs & Ham, and it struck me.   “Sam-I-Am” is not as cute as I remember him.   Maybe he has become too much like the obnoxious uncle most can relate to: that embarrasses everyone at Christmas dinner after drinking too much?   It seems that Uncle Sam has become “that relative” who can’t take a hint, doesn’t listen, pushes his politics, and you know inevitably, will puke on the carpet, and expect us to clean up the mess.   We put up with it and we enable because, after all we still love him, and feel we have few options.   We hope it ends well, like in the storybook version.   After badgering the ignorant, grouch on trains, boats and planes, he gives up.   To his surprise (and better judgment) he likes green slop.   The didactic lesson taught to children is: “Your parents know best: now sit down, shut up and eat your green veggies.”  But I wonder what lesson would be taught; if Dr. Seuss had told his story with the more likely ending of Salmonella poisoning?
We all need to wade through a maze of conflicting opinions, but as for me and my house, eating green meat has never been a smart idea.

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Deaf Culture, a Starting Point?

Several years ago I heard a story of two men who were returning home, and while on the plane, the conversation turned from common ground in business, to whether or not God was real. I know, typically when traveling religion, politics, and race are topics to avoid — especially considering there is no where to hide if things turn ugly. But the conversation in this case was cordial and concluded, when the individual who did not believe in “spiritual notions” suggested that it was impossible for anyone to really “know” of such things. The other passenger then asked an odd question: “Well then, have you ever tasted salt?” To which he responded “of course.” The believer then stated: “I don’t believe that you have ever tasted such a thing, describe it to me – prove it.” Needless to say, describing “the taste experience” of salt to one who claimed to have never tasted it, presented a challenge. The message from the story to me was clear. Some principles and concepts are, by definition experiential, and have to be lived or “tasted” to be understood.
Although “understanding” may always begin with wanting to understand something different, it’s obviously not guaranteed. On a grander scale, another’s culture, may present similar challenges. I think it can be hard for those, who are not part of the deaf culture to navigate successfully across the cultural divide. Having acknowledged some of the challenges, I thought it best to try, and share some ideas outlined by members of the deaf community in several resources below:
“Many hearing people have ideas about what it is like to be deaf. Hearing people may think it is only about not being able to hear. However, few hearing people realize that there is a deaf culture that is unique from the hearing culture.
The deaf culture is the art, politics, attitudes, shared language, and common activities of the deaf community. Some deaf culture facts can provide insight into what it really means to be deaf.
Some hearing people believe that people who are deaf would like to hear if they could. This is not necessarily true. Some deaf people do seek medical treatment for their hearing loss. Some receive cochlear implants. But, many deaf people have no desire to be hearing.” http://www.mydeafness.com/deaf-culture-facts/
Another excellent resource is www.nad.org (the National Association of the Deaf) website, where the following was obtained:
“Culture. We value the right of deaf and hard of hearing Americans to share similar beliefs, sense of belonging, and experiences as a signing community.
Language. We value the acquisition, usage, and preservation of American Sign Language
Linguistic Rights. We believe that American Sign Language must be preserved, protected, and promoted.
Human Rights. We believe that acquisition and use of American Sign Language is an essential human right
Civil Rights. We believe in equality, dignity, and justice for all deaf and hard of hearing Americans.”
Another suggestion for AbilityNews readers
for more information is a website called
http://www.alldeaf.com as one can chat online with those with various opinions and positions on many topics. The fact is, no culture has a monolithic viewpoint. So the best starting point may be one of respect, and a willingness to learn something new.

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Message From Vern:

Hi, my name is Vern Anderson, and this month I am going to talk about my family and my disability. I was born in Billings, MT. in June 1967. At the time my dad was a paralegal and my mom was staying at home and raising a young family.
When I was two, we moved to Missoula, MT. My dad attended school to become a lawyer while working with a local attorney. Mom got a job at the Speech and Hearing Clinic. Dad decided he didn’t like his career choice, so decided to work toward becoming a teacher instead.
Later, we moved back to Billings so I could get the special schooling I needed. Dad realized his goal and became an elementary school teacher, and several years later, mom became a special education teacher. They both helped me with my learning, and the exercises I had to do everyday. Without my family I could not have become the person that I am today. They helped me overcome many of the trials in my life. Family has been the strength that has tied my life together and has given me the direction that I needed to work past some of my everyday challenges.
I am always looking for articles, so email them to me at:
vern012@bresnan.net. You might find your words in print! You can also call 208-5354 with ideas you might have.
–Vern Anderson, Owner

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