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Posted Jan 10 2010 12:00am

SELF MADE MAN by Bobby Carlyle –

A new friend (rightly) questions whether hearing loss is a condition of  “disease, disability, limitation, handicap ” or is a condition that makes someone who they are – “individual, culture, uniqueness.”  I appreciate his raising this issue as it is one that transcends many “conditions, diseases, individual circumstances.”  He begins…



I shall acknowledge the importance of stem cells research and this article makes me curious what percentage of culturally deaf individuals would consider their state-of-being a disorder and what percentage – their culture.

I am a hearing individual that has been recently exposed to deaf culture. I’ve built a strong friendship with a group of deaf friends in Toronto (consider them a family) and I started accepting them as a strong society, more open-minded and heart-kinded than us. The society, that has its own “YES’s” and “NO’s”, standing on solid grounds of their culture and considered as a norm rather then a disorder.

I am not making statements, I am just naturally curious, if they accept this mechanical fix and enter our world or refuse and stay themselves…

Although, I truly hope to witness the possibilities of stem cells research in my lifetime!

Thank You for this article!




Understood.  I’ve addressed the issue of disease vs culture in many of my articles.  Whether you consider deafness a disorder to be fixed or a part of your culture/identity to be savored is a very individual position.  This same argument goes on in the circles and forums dedicated to Autism, OCD, ADHD and many other “conditions.”

Many don’t want to see themselves in a “deficient light” or “limited capacity” and take all that the world throws at them as part of who they are.  For ex.  there is a dancer who is paralyzed and refuses to be “a victim.”  He dresses himself (it takes 4 hours), choreographs dance performances and performs in theatre himself, dancing in his wheelchair and getting lifted out of it by the other dancers and soaring across the stage above their shoulders.

Here is an individual who has taken his “circumstance” and has
1. not merely been limited by it
2. not merely dealt with it
3. not merely embraced it
but rather
Embraced it and used it and his considerable talents to transcend the differences between the paraplegic and the dancer.  He has effectively redefined a world of historic pre-conceptions about who is capable of doing what and challenged and transformed our definitions of basic words like dance, flow, and movement…not to mention redefining paraplegic, wheelchair bound and handicapped.  Like the legless man who climbed Mt Everest, he is an amazing individual no matter how you look at it.

So…what if he gets treatment?  What if he rises and walks, then dances, then performs again.  This is surely a triumph over limitations, a triumph over adversity and a triumph of the undeniable and un-squashable human spirit.

But will this also be a loss?  Will he have turned his back on his individuality and what makes him…him by trying to CHANGE his condition and circumstances?  Will those who are currently paraplegic have lost their greatest inspiration? Or will that inspiration reach a new level and transform into something new?  Who can say.

What do I do?  I write and provide info on available treatments.  I hope to do that as well as I can with whatever talents I posses and with whatever obstacles I posses or face. I always try to do this better tomorrow than I did yesterday.  Each person has it within themselves to reach for their maximum potential.  Just as they may choose to be a painter, a doctor, a politician or a Sherpa; they will all have to face internal and external adversity/obstacles.  And their accomplishments will be because of some aspects of their individual circumstance and despite others.  It comes down to choice.  Free will.  And that is (should be anyway) the undeniable human right.

In the end, if you/they choose to read my info in the interest of getting themselves treatment then I have provided a service and hopefully done my job well both because of and despite who I am. If they savor that which makes them unique and embraces their circumstance then more power to them.

If we all were able to embrace who we are and what we are then perhaps the world would be a better place.  But there are many who want to change…many who want to hear or see for the first time or get their hearing or sight back after an accident or an illness robs them of it…many who want to stand, dance, walk, make love or simply dress themselves or have bladder control…many who do not want to be wracked with shakes and spasms and pain. So for them, I cannot sit idly by and not put this info out there for those that may have use of it because there are too, too many people out there who may benefit from my efforts.

Thanks for commenting and Your Welcome for the article!

p.s. Stem cells WILL certainly be available in your lifetime…cause they are available NOW!

(as the ~900 articles in this blog demonstrate! lol!)

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