October 4th, 2007

I Believe

thoughts about dog guides, curiosity, and social skills

On an email list I'm on, we have been talking about encounters we have with the public regarding dog guides. I don't talk about this often--I tend to capitulate to everyone else's feelings and assume that it is my responsibility to be nice and educate people about my dog, even when it is not so comfortable or convenient for me. The down side of this is that I don't really have the freedom to have a quiet conversation with a friend in a public place or sit somewhere and have a deep thought or an emotional moment in peace. These things get interrupted by people who want to know my dog's name but not mine. Sometimes even at church, I leave without people learning my name. As I an walking out the door, I will hear someone say, "Bye, Loretta." And I know that it is directed at the being at my side who cannot return the farewell with anything more than a wag of the tail. I wonder if the wag of the tail is equivalent to a spoken farewell. I wonder, when people say, "She must be your best friend," what they would say if I said that my best friend is a human--or that I have four "best friends" (one canine and three feline).

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For most of my life, various people have felt quite free to correct my social skills--everything from addressing the manner in which I eat to pointing out that I have interrupted someone or imposed on someone else's time. I often wonder why such attention is not paid to the development of sighted people's social skills. It is stated blatantly in literature that sighted people learn social skills by observing. Perhaps this is true regarding some things; however, having worked with children of various ages and having spoken with professors at the seminary about social dynamics in various settings, my observation is that these assumptions are quite faulty. Much more attention needs to be given to the overall development of social skills of people--not only those with disabilities. It should not be abnormal that I feel upset when my meals and conversations are interrupted because strangers are curious about my personal life. After all, it would be considered rude for me to engage in the same behavior. Why is it necessary for me to excuse it from someone else when that same stranger would be perfectly within his/her right to correct me? It is necessary because forgiveness and politeness are preferable; but it is still not ok for people to do this to one another. At some point, someone needs to begin to educate people that this behavior is impolite. Otherwise, society degenerates into a free-for-all.

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I Believe

fascinating quotes

I am reading for my specialized ministries class. So have a quote or two from my text...

Let him who can not be alone, beware the community.... Let him who is not in community, beware of being alone.
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What is most characteristically human about us is the tension between the desire to be "free"—self-identifying and self-choosing and to be "related"—to love and be loved.
—Paul Tillich

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