Monday, April 8, 2013

How do the Blind See People?

“What do blind people see?” A question asked throughout history by people who could never truly comprehend the answer. No more than the blind being able to comprehend sight. But make no mistake, the blind “see” in many ways. So rather than asking “What do blind people see?” let’s ask, “How do blind people see?” In this case, “How do blind people see other people?”

People tend to be quick to judge others by what they see. Of course, this isn’t always a bad thing. If you see a guy walking down the street with a bomb strapped to his chest, you’re going to know that something is wrong. I suppose this is one advantage to having sight. However, people often develop a superficial mindset. They form opinions of others by how they look. They notice skin color, clothing, and general “attractiveness”.

Blind people are different in that they simply cannot notice the physical traits of others. In fact, and to their social detriment, they may not even notice others at all. But when they do become aware of a person’s presence, the last thing that comes to their mind is physical appearance. It makes no difference at first. That isn’t to say that physical traits don’t come into account at some point. I suppose it varies among the blind and sighted alike. But by nature, the blind tend to focus less on what a person looks like and more on what they are like as a person.

Think of it this way. A blind person isn’t able to see the bomb strapped to the guy’s chest and they know it. They will have to discover it another way. Rather than forming a picture based on someone’s appearance, they will form a picture based on their character or personality. Because they are incapable of making a judgement based on sight, they are left with two options. They can either avoid the person altogether or they can find out more about them. In other words, they will have to go beyond the surface of a person and try and gauge them internally.

So in theory, blind people have a natural tendency to judge a person by their character and not their physical appearance. Perhaps this is only true to an extent or not at all. I base this only on my experience as a partially blind individual. Maybe it has little to do with how well I can see and more to do with the fact that I know how it feels to be judged. Regardless, I still stand by my thought that we are hindered greatly when we get hung up on superficial things that really don’t matter.

What would happen to us as individuals if we stopped placing so much importance on physical appearance, income, religion, political affiliation, orientation, or ethnicity? How many deep, meaningful relationships have people missed out on because they were just too shallow? What if we just enjoyed other people for who they are? At the very least, we would be blessed with the opportunity of getting to know someone new and unique.  

Genuine love awaits us if we could just become blind to the barriers that separate us from one another.

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