A Hearing Perspective on Separation of Cultures

Retort to ‘Does Being Deaf separate us from people?’ from a hearing individual

There are limitless amounts of separation in the world: dog people versus cat people, tall vs short, big vs. small, trucks vs. cars, successful individuals vs non-successful individuals, and hearing vs deaf; the question shouldn’t be “Does being deaf separate us from people” it should be “what makes the deaf individual unique” or “what brings individuals together”. The philosopher Plato said “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge”. Hearing individuals and deaf individuals alike both have these capabilities; it is whether they have the capacity to use them in situations.

Emotions are a response that every individual has but uses differently. Emotion is one of the key components that dictate behavior in an individual and a culture. Emotion across cultures has the

Allen with family in red shades.
Allen with the red shades. 

capacity to be universally similar yet interpretation is somewhat perceived differently. Americans have a belief or tendency that smiling and cheerfulness is a social norm, in this affect it illuminates that life is controlled and an optimism of the future, other cultures do not share or broadcast the same emotion on a regular basis. There are the believers that conceive there are principle emotions that every culture shares with little to no distinguishability, the seven main emotions. The seven basic or main emotions are anger, fear, disgust, contempt, joy, sadness, and surprise. I surmise that the deaf community displays an 8th ongoing emotion, courage. Deaf individuals compose themselves with a ‘mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery’, in facto courage.

In the ears of hearing-capable individual such as myself, the ability to tune out the outside world, cut out the noise distractions, and be embodied with only my inner thoughts is a wish I often have. Even as I write this now, I am flooded by the distractiveness of the birds chirping outside my back door who I believe knowingly, purposely make piercing noises to drive me into lunacy and the neighbor’s dog that has a bark that is a combination of misery and nails across a board. To be able to censor the ignorance that has taken over the media and the stupidity of what comes out of individuals mouths these days seems a commodity. Yes, being deaf does make an individual separate but not in a bad way or even in a discriminatory fashion.

If all individuals could hear then there would be no unique and inspiring deaf community, just uniformity among individuals. The deaf individual is able to capture and personify a rareness; an exclusivity of something that not every individual has a chance to be a part of. A creativity unalike any other sort of creativeness spawns from a deaf individual, so yes deaf individuals are different, they are their own elegant and sophisticated culture.

The meaning of isolation is ‘to set or place apart; detach or separate so as to be alone’. Amazing deaf actress Marlee Maitlin is quoted as saying “I’m the only one in my family who is deaf, and there are still conversations that go around me that I miss out on. And I ask what’s going on, and I have to ask to be included. But I’m not going to be sad about it. I don’t live in sad isolation. It’s just a situation I’m used to”. Society has not set deaf individuals apart; it is only within the powers of the individual to isolate themselves.

Helen Keller wrote “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” Being deaf does not separate individuals from the mainstream, distancing one’s self does.

Written by Allen Young

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