By Randy Pierce
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
While the much more publicized Mayan “end of the world” did not arrive in December of 2012, a pair of identical twins in Belgium sipped a final cup of coffee together. They waved goodbye to family and succumbed to the lethal injection which legally ended their 45 years of life together. In allegedly rational minds, the two deaf twins had learned they were going to become blind and could not fathom sufficient reason to continue living. They applied for and received consent for euthanasia.
I have little doubt that the topic of euthanasia is a sensitive issue with many strong opinions–I do not intend to address them at the moment. My observation here involves the terrible perception of blindness and its impact which would inspire someone to choose death instead.
I am well aware of the very real challenges to transitioning to blindness as well as being blind. I’m aware of many misconceptions as well. Most imagine the situation as far more dour than I perceive the reality, though interestingly some find that I make the experience look sufficiently easy that they perhaps underestimate the challenges involved. The reality is that each person confronted with challenge must come to terms with their approach in their own fashion. They will likely have to manage the results of the choices they make at least as powerfully as they manage the challenge itself.
I can say with humble certainty that my initial belief of my impending blind experience was far more devastatingly tragic than my reality. I am glad that I had the courage, strength and support to push myself forward and learn the skills necessary to make my blindness only a part of my life and not the defining aspect.
It is true that nearly every day I wish that I could see again. It is also true that I would choose blindness for myself, even believing it would be permanent (as is likely), rather than give up the lessons and positive experiences blindness has brought to my life. I’d like to believe some of those would have come through other avenues, but the quality of my life has such high value to me that I would preserve it with blindness over sight and the uncertainty of those lessons.
I hope most days I show clearly by example for those with vision to observe fully that life with blindness has as much rewarding potential as life with sight. I’m sorry that message wasn’t strong enough to convince these twins they had more to contribute and experience in this world if they only chose to do such. I know that a deaf and blind woman by the name of Helen Keller certainly helps inspire me to believe in the potential they lost with their fatal choice.
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”