Thursday, October 8, 2009


Yesterday, I went to the unveiling of the Helen Keller statue in the US Capitol Rotunda. The ceremony was wonderful with speeches by the entire Congressional Leadership including Senator Harry Reid, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. They spoke of Helen Keller's leadership, perseverance, and of the role model she continues to be for millions of blind and deaf people around the world. Her statue depicts the first time she really learned to communicate at her family's water pump. If you ever get a chance to see it, it really is lovely. It is very textured and all the words are in braille so that it is accessible to blind people. She taught so much about leadership and showed how pouring your heart into something can be so much of what you need to inspire those around you to help and believe that things they thought to be impossible, really could happen. She fought for the passion and freedom that stemmed from her disabilities but her leadership transcends these. Her ability to bring people together and develop methods to achieve a common goal is really the true nature of her leadership.

This is really interesting to me because when you have a disability, you are praised for the simplest of things that to others would simply be part of every day life. Is the sheer ability to live through adversity something to celebrate? Of course there are things that are harder for some people than others but should we hold all people accountable for the same standards? For example if a sighted person learns to read at the age of five, this is seen as a normal step in the progression of development. However if a blind person learns to read jsut as easily, many will say that the blind person could be more greatly commended. The thing is that when you live with these barriers on a daily basis and the become part of your routine, even if they seem like horrific barriers to others, is it really a measure of leadership or just living?

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