#blind may be an inevitable metaphor for a species that, in the main, relies so heavily on one particular sense to make its way through the world. It turns out there are other people in the world who see a greater range of colors than most; it turns out there are animals that see a greater range of colors than any human – and we see a greater range than any member of some other species.
Would we, would they, consider the others #blind?
Would a dog who could only smell scents in the range that I can suddenly feel blinded, with a more limited sense of the world? I wonder.
When a family member meets the legal definition of #blind – when she reads Braille in preference to monumentally magnified text – then the inevitable metaphor becomes a commentary, intended or not, on someone I dearly love.
Let’s face it, with blindness comes a certain degree of ignorance. I know more things about my environment, because I can see it, than someone who can’t see it does. I’ve spent a good deal of time serving as a guide through unfamiliar spaces. And I’ve read many, many menus aloud because there wasn’t one available in Braille.
Blindness, however, is not a moral condition, and that’s where the metaphor frequently fails. Ignorance is not a moral condition, either. It’s a state of knowledge, and best of all, it’s correctable. Someone who can’t see overcomes their ignorance of their environment in different ways – some with dogs, some with canes, some with a supportive elbow, and nearly all with repeated experience.
In short, the average #blind individual routinely seeks to learn what they do not know.
When we use the metaphor, however, all too frequently the person described as “blind” is one determined to maintain their ignorance. That’s a slander. I know from experience that a #blind person can be plenty stubborn, but determined to maintain her ignorance? No. What would be the point?
What is the point of determined ignorance?
Far better to feel your way through the world. Far, far better.