I can’t talk … and I’m wiser for it

So, I went and got sick again. Sorry about that.

The good news is I’m feeling better today.

The bad news, in my opinion anyway: I’ve lost my voice. My kids are probably rejoicing over this. Quietly, anyway, and somewhere I can’t see them. My wife is a bit annoyed about the lack of ability to carry on a conversation conventionally, but is probably glad I can’t raise my voice if the kids misbehave.

I know everyone else has had bitterly cold temperatures and lots of snow. In Southwest Florida we’ve had below-average highs and a lot of rain lately. My dog is the one feeling this the most. It’s hard to go outside when you don’t like getting wet. No, that’s not right. She doesn’t mind getting wet, so long as it’s under her conditions. Rain and baths don’t meet her conditions, so she’s had a rough last few days and has been getting antsy.

So, being unable to engage with my family, who are basically ignoring me until I can say something about it, I took the dog for a walk.

Most loops through the neighborhood might include a wave to someone, but generally my neighbors, though friendly, are usually not out in their front yards when I walk by. Today several wanted to speak. Of course. It was maddening and saddening. I mimed and they understood; I wasn’t being rude, I just couldn’t speak.

I’ve never seen a few of them outside before so they probably think I’m mute.

When I realized this, I got to thinking. What else was I going to do? I mean, the dog probably couldn’t have heard me if I had tried to talk about it, and she was right next to me.

You probably know by now that I’m familiar with folks who are missing some things the rest of us tend to take for granted, like sight or hearing. We also tend to be horrified by the thought of losing our own sight or hearing. I don’t have any experience with the mute. My thoughts today ran to what someone who is mute experiences.

The blind cannot see the world. The deaf cannot hear it. For those born that way, the pain must surely exist, but probably not as deeply as for those who lost their ability later. Either way, you are cut off from the world. You can respond to it, move around it in it, and speak to it, though.

Being mute, you experience the world, but cannot respond to it.

I can’t figure out which would be worse.

Quite a few people might say it would be a good thing if I couldn’t speak. It would leave a lot less opportunities to stick my foot in my mouth, but that’s a wisdom thing; something much different indeed.

I’m fortunate to know that in another day or two, I will try to say something and it will come out normal. I hope, anyway. Not everyone gets that.  We are all fortunate, however, to live in a time after people like Hellen Keller or Jacobus tenBroek have blazed a trail for those who cannot connect to the world in the same way most of us do. Thanks to them, and many others, being deaf or blind, even mute, can become something more in lines with a minor nuisance than that which defines who someone is and what they can do. Further, they’ve helped ensure that people have the opportunity to connect and respond to the world around them.

Twenty years ago I’d have been horrified to lose my voice, even from being sick. I was horribly frightened, about 27 years ago, when I put the wrong contact lens in my right eye, and the cleaning solution managed to put a serious damper on my sight in that eye. I thought, for a short time, that I might not have it at all. I was terrified, since about 17 years ago or so, when I began having tinnitus. Today, however, I’ve been comforted by my faith, my maturity, and my increasing wisdom and knowledge of the world.

The horror isn’t in blindness, deafness, or being mute. The horror is in letting any of those things keep you an outcast.


Redefining 9/11: Don’t let hate triumph

There is a lot going on in the world lately. So much that it makes my head spin.

  • Commemoration of 11 years since the events of September 11, 2001
  • Ambassador Christopher Stevens killed in a terrorist attack in Libya
  • VA cost-saving measures resulted in one of my appointments being cancelled
  • A thousand children have died of malnutrition since I started typing this

And it’s all connected.

No, I’m not some conspiracy theory kook. I mean that these things are all tied together by how we, as Americans, view the world.

September 11 of every year since 2001 has been an opportunity for Americans to renew the call to battle, to call out for the blood of the Muslim, and renew the vigor with which we pursue security in the name of liberty. Somewhere in this mess a number of Americans put on the “Christian nation” mask and talk of religious war, as if the Bible is the book that calls for jihad.

Let’s be clear on this. The message of the Bible, in its entirety, is not one of hate or war, but of peace and love. If America is a Christian nation, why are we trying to solve our problems with guns and bombs? The Gospel of Jesus Christ should be such Good News to us, and so true to us, that living it out — and possibly dying as a result — should not be a fear of ours.

Yes, we are at war, America. Let’s not forget that. It may not disrupt the majority of our lives, but it is there. We should be supporting those who are sacrificing so much in this endeavor. At the same time, though, we need to be honest with ourselves: how much longer does this need to go on? Have we accomplished our stated objectives? Are we pursuing those not accomplished in an appropriate manner? The answers to these questions are very important because the lives of young American men and women hang in the balance of how we answer it.

Some “Christians” in America would rather offend, belittle, and agitate Muslims. People like Ambassador Stevens die as a result of such behavior. Behavior such as that attributed to Terry Jones, who seems to have made a film that Muslims feel belittles Mohammad, is not Christ-like. It doesn’t further understanding or foster relationships that reflect the character of Christ. The Enemy comes to maim, kill, and destroy. Jesus came so that all might be saved.

In our misplaced zeal we continue to put troops in danger, but to do so we are gutting the systems that care for them when they return. Many veterans are receiving mental health treatment via video conference instead of face to face meetings. Mental health is about building healthy relationships, not just with ourselves, but with others. It is difficult to do this when your doctor is on a computer monitor because the VA cannot afford to put a live person in the facility near you.

We are told that young men and women today want to be a part of something larger. They are finding many different ways to do so. Sadly, the mission field is being overlooked. Long-term opportunities to bring food, clean water, and the Gospel to those in need are being missed. One reason, I believe, is because the “Christianity” that many Americans see is self-serving, hateful, and hypocritical. The news often contains accounts of Christians, supposedly loving people, protesting military funerals to spread a message of hate about homosexuality. Other stories are about Christians belittling young women as they try to enter Planned Parenthood or abortion facilities. Then we hear about people like Jones who speak and act in hateful ways about other religions. This is NOT how Jesus asked us to live. We are people and we make mistakes, but we need to be honest about them. Most importantly, we need to stop living so comfortably and start speaking up with loving actions.

When September 11 rolls around again, I’d love to look back and see a year when love defined Christianity, as it should.

A good week for thinking about liberty

Americans celebrated 235 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence this week. The British Empire quietly attempted to overlook the anniversary that marked the beginning of a slow slide into twilight for them.

Much has been said about the various angles people take regarding July 4th, but one that I think the more-popular media outlets glossed over was the state of liberty in America today. At every turn we find we need, if not a law degree, at least a class or two in law just to operate day to day in anything we do. That in itself is a sign things have progressed too far the wrong way. Common sense is no longer the watchword; today it’s CYA. It’s sad, but true.

I rejoice that Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch from Reason Magazine chose now to release their book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America, a wonderful look at how America can return to policies of individual liberty. Check it out.