The Cursed


The Cursed

     "Hi, I’m Robert. Your accent, if I am reading it correctly, places you from somewhere in the Middle East?”

     The attractive dusky-skinned, dark-haired woman looked quizzically at the guy approaching. He was about her age, nice looking, using a long white cane. She had first noticed him upon her arrival in the hotel lobby, and later in the registration line and reception area for those attending the two-day conference. He had impressed her with his poise as he maneuvered about independently, responding charmingly as he dealt with the awkward reception his presence sometimes elicited. Without hesitation, she spoke up, “Hello, and, yes. To put a finger or two on the map, Cairo originally, but most recently, right here in Philly. My name is Dara --- I’m the only one sitting in this row.” A realization was blossoming within her; this guy’s disability didn’t make her feel uncomfortable.

     Anticipation fueling his every stride, Robert moved into the row. He hadn’t expected such a provocative seatmate at a conference where he knew there wouldn’t be anyone he’d know. Her voice is so beautiful, he thought. Feeling at ease and maybe too much so, he couldn’t believe his next words, “Well, guess I’ll sit by you and fill up the row so it’s just ours.”

     They didn’t have the entire row to themselves. Yet throughout the morning’s presentations, they indulged in periodic soft-spoken exchanges. Some concerning the information being presented, some purely personal, and sometimes, sharing some stifled laughter.

     At the end of the morning session, they decided to have lunch together. Later, they had dinner, then the next morning, breakfast, and then lunch again. The conference was over at 4:00 PM.

     “I’ve got to see you again. How about tomorrow lunch or dinner somewhere?” Robert asked.

     “Yes, me too. Ah --- how about you come over to my apartment and I make dinner --- you bring a refreshment.”


     The night of their date, dinner finished, with more wine, soft music, and a deep lingering kiss, Dara said, “I once heard that it was very disconcerting to look into a blind person’s eyes. But ah --- being this close and looking --- I’m not sure I know what they are referring to.”

     “Well I’m told --- good art work on non-scratch plastic like I have, can work miracles.”

     “Ha! Oh Robert my dear man,” Dara snuggled closer, “you are so full of surprises and delights. I must tell you that I feel that I am falling in love with you. ”Fingertips caressing his cheek, “Before we get more serious, we must go to my father. He must meet and pass his judgment on my choice.”

     "Woo, You mean we have to get your father’s permission to fall in love?"

     "No, it’s not that way. I have my own heart and feelings. I respect you for who you are, my dear. Just that, my father is the --- head of the family. It is the way within my culture. The man oversees the affairs of the family. You will like him. He is a generous, loving, and God fearing man. And his being judgmental; well --- it goes along with the position "

     The day came for their trip to Dara’s family home and her introduction of Robert to her father came. Her mother served them tea and sweets. They talked, drank tea, talked some more, and though her family were very polite, they were nevertheless very curious about how this blind man lived.

     After dinner, in her father’s study, Dara and Robert spoke of their feelings for one another. And her father answered. “My dear daughter, I do not give my permission. Let me make this very clear, Robert, though you are a fine fellow, I must oppose this marriage. I do not want my daughter to be fated to the life she would have to live if she is betrothed to you. You are blind, a condition which greatly, how should I say it --- blindness severely impacts your life--you are stigmatized; you have reduced independence and, therefore, your prospects to financially care for my daughter are handicapped. No. I forbid this union. You are one of God’s cursed.”


e-mail responses to

**1. Well, I don't know if this scenario is about the curse of love or the love of curse. Since the lovely Dara originated in Cairo and had a somewhat Middle Eastern accent, I think it is reasonable to surmise that the culture in question is Islamic. Muslems may have a religious belief that blindness is a "curse", but they are far from the only ones who think this way. I believe that Hindus (at least those who are serious about their religion) believe that blindness, and other conditions, are imposed for misdeeds in a previous life. I have encountered similar beliefs among persons in our own culture, based somehow on Christian beliefs. I can still recall quite vividly an occasion just a couple months after I lost my sight in a dynamite accident in 1941. A nurse who was traveling through our backwoods district in central British Columbia had stopped by to have a look at this lad who had been recently blinded. She took my head in her hands and peered intensely into my one remaining, and badly damaged eye. I think my mother was expecting some sort of medical pronouncement after her inspection. Instead, she turned to my mother and said, "What could a boy this age have done to deserve this!" I was not a perfect lad and even gave some brief thought to this matter. It wasn't long before I gave up that sort of inquiry, but I have often wondered who or what she thought had punished me in this dreadful way. The fact that she was a nurse made the issue a bit more troubling. In one way or another, I have no doubt that there was something vaguely religious behind her utterance. My guess is that blindness is regarded as such a dreadful thing in so many cultures that people have to come up with some explanation that involves a deity in inflicting the terrible condition. Combine that with the dominant role of fathers in some cultures and I am afraid Robert and Dara would come to believe in the curse of love as much as the father must have believed in the love of the curse.

James S. Nyman Nebraska

**2. Greetings and good afternoon, I read your most recent Thought Provoker article with much interest and I dare say, I'm left with more questions than answers.

Firstly, when your title spoke of "religious groups" and the blind being "cursed", what religious groups were you referring to? Because in your article you only mentioned "culture" in the form of the woman in the story, Dara, and her family being from the Middle East/Cairo, Egypt. I had the feeling while reading the story that you were confounding culture and religion, making them one in the same.

Firstly, what religion, if any, were you referring to? While Egypt has a Christian population, the majority of Egypt's population are Muslims. If it was Islam that you were trying to refer to (without saying so), what do you know of Islam's view on blindness and disability in general? If it was merely culture you were speaking of, than perhaps the title of this article needs to be changed to reflect that, because in the article, there was barely no mention of "religion", but only references to "Middle East", etc.

I am a blind Muslim, I became Muslim 9 years ago this month. And while some cultures who happen to be predominantly Muslim may indeed view blindness as a curse, Islam itself does not, to my knowledge view it so. Blindness is viewed as a challenge to overcome, and Inshallah, in dealing with the challenges, whatever they may be, that God puts in our lives, we will be rewarded, God willing, for being patient and forebearing, and satisfied with God's decree regarding our lives, because God is much more wiser than we as humans can ever be.

In fact, in my experience, it was never Muslims who told me that my blindness was an evil, something that I had to pray that God would "heal" me from, something that should be or would cause me to be "cursed". It was various Christian people and groups who told me this. I was told to pray that God would heal me, and that if I wasn't healed that either my faith was lacking or that I'd done something wrong.

Now, if these were Middle Eastern Christians in the story, I could maybe see where you were going with this. However, the title of your article doesn't match the article, and the article seems to have many glaring stereotypes and suppositions about Middle Eastern culture (and possibly Muslim culture as well, though you don't ever make this clear in the story), especially as regards the overbearing father who forbids Dara to marry Robert and Dara (though she says otherwise) can't do anything about it.

I'm curious as to why you felt the need to make Dara and her family "from somewhere else" when you could have just as easily made them American, because we all know that it's only "those people over there"
who'd think that blind people are cursed or that blind men can't possibly be able to provide for their families. I guess that's why blind people in America have so much better of a time finding employment, not that an 80% unemployment rate is anything to sniff at, that we have it so much better over here, I guess we no longer need the ACB and NFB. Anyway, all sarcasm aside, I found this story to be poorly written, and full of a lot of vaguery and stereotype about a culture that I'm not sure that you, the author, know very much about.
My concern is that in trying to overcome one set of stereotypes you've employed a whole slue of others.

I have blogged about my concerned as well as emailed my concerns to you, and you are welcome to visit my blog and comment at
I will also be posting your thought provoker on the Blind Muslims group at Yahoo to get their perspectives as well.

My hope is that all of us, no matter where we come from, could perhaps learn something, that we may not have known before, and thus be able to avoid stereotyping one group, in order to "educate" regarding another.

Greetings and best wishes,
Ginny Quick Winter Haven, Florida, USA

...FROM ME: I wrote back to Ginny:
Thanks for writing and you bring up many points that I was wishing, writing for. This story was in the beginning stages, as I was putting it together one that took place here in the USA. And Sure, I knew what I was saying by using Culture which is broader and not religion which is specific (I also realize that it was for some, misleading, wrongly used, but all too commonly used and that somewhere I needed to straighten it out and I'm thinking you are doing it pretty well in your response). I took the chance by leaving it this way in hopes that I would get people to --- well do a couple of very big things- First show that this cursed thing is found in many groups, right here in this culture, among several of the religions that so many of us are familiar with. And second, at a potential cost and embarrassment, I put the story in the Middle East to get some people to write in and put the record straight. I mean this when I write this, I do not want one people's in ignorance and in fear and wanting to hurt another people.

One last point, about THOUGHT PROVOKER, as an instrument to provoke thought, if you read down through the stories, you will see that I will at times, to provoke discussion, will portray the wrong thing. I am after 'you the respondent' to fill in what is the right way about the human potential to live with blindness.

Your response will be number two in what I feel and hope will be a long line of responses. (The first response did a nice job in pointing out that this cursed view of blindness is right here in this culture).

**3. again I say this is one of, or perhaps the, best of your thought provokers!

There are plenty of people who think themselves Christians who believe that blind people are cursed, that the blindness results from a lack of their own personal faith or it is a judgment against the parents.

I also have to say Robert, I agree with the early depiction in the
story: sometimes there are women whose voices just melt me and in my heart I'm saying "I'm your slave!"
I think sometimes us blind do focus on the voice much more than others do.
I appreciate that you don't quite identify Dara's faith or ethnicity. sadly, such a scene could've played in several.

Robert, your short piece also wonderfully captures that sudden chemistry that can hit two people. This is an excellent piece of writing, besides confronting one of the worst prejudices against the blind.

for Christians, they ought to read John chapter 9, when Jesus says people are born blind, made blind for the good purpose of God. this is completely in agreement with the concept that our blindness is a characteristic like blond hair, or being particularly tall. those of us who believe know that all these are in God's hands.

In some cultures, this "curse" is a self-fulfilling curse because blind people are prevented from going to college or getting good jobs, treated as children.
Thank you Robert. Your writing serves us all!

Jim Canaday M.A. Lawrence, KS NFB Writers' Division Mailing List

**4. JC, Robert & Judith,

This is a marvelous example of how readers interpret things differently.
When I first read the TP, I was thinking that Robert was being deliberately vague about the religion because to a certain extent the prejudice exists universally. Christians also live in Egypt and I would be surprised if there weren't some Jews there as well. Philadelphia, of course, has imigrants of all religious stripes.

When I was a child in a Christian home, I had the impression that my parents believed that God was punishing them by giving them two blind children. The word "curse wasn't used, but isn't it the same thing? I also think that many "enlightened" parents still have misgivings, stated or not, about having their kids hook up with a blind mate. We're not used to the idea of a patriarc having power to stop a marriage, but it's not uncommon in many cultures.

Donna Hill NFB Writers' Division Mailing List

**5. This is something I've thought about, for awhile. The scenario seems to have deeper implications ... something that will not be easily fixed through education.

In Biblical times, people with disabilities were pretty much shunned by others. It was thought that they or their parents must have sinned, thus the disability. During the three years of Jesus' ministry on earth, He healed many people with all kinds of illnesses and disabilities. This restored them to wholeness, but also illustrated the power of God.

Even further back than the time of Jesus' life on earth, God required that his people offer sacrifices of clean animals, without physical blemish.

So, for all these centuries, disabilities, including blindness, were seen as imperfect and something to avoid. Blind people weren't expected to do anything other than beg.

There are still many countries and cultures where tradition is a huge part of what they do and how they live. Unfortunately, attitudes, like this, toward blindness are still part of the traditions and beliefs.

So, while Americans, with a relatively short American cultural history and progressive attitudes toward diversity, may be relatively easily educated to the capabilities of blind people; it's probably not as easily done when you're dealing when hundreds or thousands of years of tradition are coloring the prospective.

I don't know the answer to this one. I have wondered how, in Biblical times, blind people could be treated as they were. Then I consider how much better we have it, in the United States, now. But, it's taken over 2000 years to reach the stage of acceptance we have, now. So, maybe it will just take a little longer for people with the background and beliefs of the father. He wants the best for his daughter. But, according to what he knows, from his background and culture, a blind person can't give that to her, because, for whatever reason, he's been cursed with blindness.

It's a huge hurtle to get passed. But, maybe, in time, it can be done.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, Pa.

**6. I don't know much about Middle Eastern culture or Islam but this story works at a universal level. In all cultures, including today's liberal, anything-goes culture the idea of a blind person daring to fall in love or even express sexuality strikes a nerve with many people.
I am now married to a sighted man but because other people in my life were afraid of my sexuality I didn't date much and wasn't married until I was over fifty years old. I just didn't want to rock the boat. Well, after years of trying to keep the boat steady I met Jon and realized that I loved him so much that I couldn't continue my life of letting the worries of others rule me. Now, as I look back on that time I realize that my sense of duty was highly magnified and wasn't as real as I thought it was. I was the only one standing in my way.
Maybe Robert and Dara would have had to give each other up if they were fairly young. We don't know how old they are. Perhapse, though, Robert might have said "sir, I respect your religion and your position as head of your family, but this is not Cairo. This is The United States." Maybe Dara might have said "father, please take some time to get to know Robert and let me do the same." The cycle of fear is as corrosive to true religion and true love as the cycle of abuse. Robert and Dara, if they parted, never to see each other again, would not have broken that cycle of fear. It would just go on and on.

Chris Coulter Edmonds, Washington

**7. Once upon a time, long, long ago and far, far away, I was a young lad out to capture the heart of every lass I met.

My buddy and I used to stop by a local Bar and Grill after work. There, working as a waitress was an angel. I was smitten. We became chatty and then friendly and then she would join us, along with her girl friend, after work. We would suck up coffee until the moon went down and then all headed our separate ways.

Now this was back in the days when I was more sighted than blind. But I could not drive after dark, and indeed, should not have driven at all. So I always teamed up with a buddy.

One evening I became very bold and asked this Angel for a date. "Yes", she quickly replied. My head swam and a thousand stars and golden arrows flew around the room.
We quickly agreed on a double date and took down the address of the Angel. We would come around to pick them up at 7:00 PM. that next Saturday.

Dressed to the "9's and even having washed my buddy's old clunk, we eagerly took the front steps two at a time.
I rand the buzzer and we waited for our dates to appear. Instead, a kindly but stern looking gray haired man opened the door.

"We've come to take our Angels out on the town", I said. Something like that.

"I am very sorry," the man said in a gentle voice. "We are Jewish and we will not allow our daughters to become involved with any but Jewish boys".

I thought of telling him that my name was really Jarvistein, but instead I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. Behind him I could see Angel looking sadly out at me. For the first time in my life I knew the sting of discrimination. I never went back to that Bar and Grill again.

Now, as a well discriminated against blind man, I recall that first harsh blow.
I think about how we blind folks rail against discrimination and yet, we are all of us full of prejudices. How quickly and clearly we see others, but how blind we are to our own.

Carl Jarvistein ACB-L listserv

**8. Over the years, I have so identified with those who are of color and other minority groups because though our treatment as not been as harsh in terms of some of the experiences, I understand. I can remember thinking during those years of such strife about who could go to school where that what did someone's skin color have to do with going to school and getting an education. I never thought of myself as a minority until I went out and tried to get my college education and had to fight some of the major professors about stuff and then going into the job world. All things, considered, I have had an easier time of it than many, but I don't understand the human need to fight off anything that is a tad different. I know that even wild animals do this, but for God's sakes, we are human beings with more intelligenze? I may feel certain things about certain cultures, but I really try to watch myself that I not be unfair to someone or unkind because they are different. I imagine I have failed miserably at times, but that is one flaw I don't like among humankind.

Dianne ACB-L listserv

**9. Hi. I grew up in an environment where interracial dating was absolutely discouraged, almost taboo. In fact, those of us who dared to do it were called some rather unsavory names. I never understood it and still don't. People are people. I'm neither overly attracted to, or repulsed by, people of color. I've heard all this about "I can't see the color so it makes no difference." That is just incredibly rediculous to me. No, I cannot see the color differences wither but I'm intelligent enough to know they are there, there are some differences in our general cultures and so what?
I understand, and even respect, those who believe one should date / marry within their own faith or ethnicity and that is personal choice. However, i don't understand the outright cruelty, name-calling and treatment that humans feel compelled to give to others who are "different" from themselves, and it makes no difference to me what that "difference" is. Heck, all people are "different" in some way to me and that just makes them more interesting.

Jessie ACB-L listserv

**10. Just one of the facts of life.

Alberto Arreola NFB NABS Mailing List

**11. Is that what you'd say to yourself if you were in Robert's shoes? What if you really loved that woman? Would you be willing to simply stay seated and say "That's just a fact of life?" The Blacks didn't say that when they were forbidden to take the front seat in buses. What would have happened if Jews and Jewish sympathizers used the same logic to stand still during the Holocaust?

Jedi NFB NABS Mailing List

**12. No if I were in his place I would defend my self. What I ment by that's a fact of life is that there are people that have that belief and even though they would be proven wrong they most possibly would still to support that belief.

I would be very angry if a man would tell me that just because I'm blind I can't marry his daughter. I can tell you this my parents are from Mexico and in the area they are from people almost never encounter a blind person, and when they meet me and see what I'm capable of it is hard for them to grasp it.

I'm sorry that that was taken out of context I should have explained myself better.

Alberto Arreola NFB NABS Mailing List

**13. Good points there, Jedi. I would never say that if I were in Robert's shoes. But think if I were in Dara's shoes. If my dad forbade me
from marrying a man because he was blind and I was sighted, I'd
probably say, "I'm sorry, but the logic you are using is purely
religious and completely uneducated and untrue."

Beth NFB NABS Mailing List

**14. I do not know that much about different religions, but I am not sure that women can do that in certain religions, at least not without getting into serious trouble. This is a very interesting problem; two different issues are getting intertwined.

Nicole B. Torcolini NFB NABS Mailing List

**15. Hmmm.... what to do with this one. Well for starters, there is a cultural issue in addition to generationally imposed misperceptions. First, Robert would have to determine, as would his lady friend, how much control the
patriarch of this family does or does not have on these two individuals
happiness. It is unfortunate that biblical references do nothing to help combat this universally held position. I would however, draw to the attention of the father and others, that all to often blindness is given a bum rap. First justice in all her glory is said to be blind. in fact she wears a blind fold in order to reaffirm that only in blindness, without traditional and typical sight can justice be doled out without distraction or distortion to truth. Then too, we all of us look to the mysteries of faith. No matter the spiritual focus of any of us, we are asked to have blind faith. Seeing is not always believing. So there you have it. Two very profound and culturally relevant arguments to make to this man who sees blindness as a weakness rather then a strength which not to many people would handle willingly or well. But as with anything practice makes perfect.
Blindness is, for me, just another language or dance step I need to learn in order to move freely through this life of mine. Peace.

Albert J. Rizzi, M.Ed.

**16. I think Robert should have done some research and planning before going to visit Dara's family. Dara's Father may have only seen blind beggars and quite naturally wouldn't want his daughter to marry someone who couldn't support her. Islam has had a number of blind clerics throughout its history.
See the article The view that blind people are cursed seems at odds with the fact that there are and have been blind clerics. Perhaps Robert should have been prepared to show that he could support a wife. This might seem an odd idea in our time, but a few generations ago, a proper gentleman asked permission of a girl's parents to date and especially engage in courtship. We have here a clash of cultural practices. Robert might be able to redeem the situation, but it will be difficult.

Robert Jaquiss, Blindkid Mailing List
President Greater Ouachita Chapter
National Federation of the Blind

**17. This was an interesting Provoker and one that indicates the cultural component of acceptance and stigma. In some parts of the world, disability is seen as terrible. Education may help, but it is going to take much time and exposure to alter some people's beliefs. It doesn't matter how successful a person is, if he/she is blind. The person's education or employment status doesn't make up for the disability. In time, beliefs like Dara's father will change, but I doubt that Robert is going to make this man alter his opinion for now. Dara could decide to follow her feelings instead of her cultural restrictions, but if she did, the strain and friction would still be there to stress their relationship. Actually, beliefs similar to his aren't all that unusual right here in the USA. My first wife's mother never did accept me as her daughter's husband, even though I was successful and cared for her daughter.

Doug Hall Fl

**18. Not all cultures have a progressive attitude towards disability. As Americans ingrained in a western mind-set we do not always see past the end of our noses. We are a culture of individuals and we march about demanding freedom and rights leading us to be clueless about the inner structure of other cultures. It is unfortunate, but alas, many cultures have not reached the enlightened idea that those with disabilities are not cursed. This concept does exist in our own culture though.
We are a country built on Puritan ideals, and even in this modern day, liberal, seemingly free-for-all society, those Puritanical ideas still swim about. The very Bible itself calls disability a curse. Most people would consider being disabled a curse even if they don't state it in those terms. Just the other day a close family friend said that being blind would be the worse possible thing to happen. Many agree with this idea. So our culture is not that far off from ones that are still placing their disabled into institutions and believing them cursed.
We have to believe in our own truths and stand up for our own ideas, but we must do so with decorum. I often find others from other parts of the world are usually more overly helpful than most, but I must consider their culture when reacting. It may not always be sound thinking, but we will never change minds without understanding where others mind-sets stem from.
Just be thankful to live in a country where rights over-rule decorum. Where being American is superior to all. Where power and greed allow one to demand what they want without thoughts to others.

Bridgit Pollpeter Omaha Nebraska

**18. I was initially struck by the protagonists name--Robert. Might this be a reflection on a past personal experience? Whether it be or not, that sometimes issues of the heart can be determined by factors of the mind can be disheartening. That the two individuals in the provoker found such pleasure and connection with one another is beautiful. That culture and tradition can so blatantly disregard the same is equally as ugly. It is important to remember such road blocks are not only formed against those who are blind but against any and everyone with a difference that is misunderstood and further misperceived.
I think of the countless times, in general public, I have been confronted with "God bless you..." Sometimes because my blindness is somehow perceived as a blessing and, far more often when it is perceived as a curse.

Robert, if this was a personal account I pray that you found the pleasures and happiness with Dara that the two of you sought. If no, I hope you are planning to build on the beginnings of this work and create something that has a realistic and beautiful ending. All the best.

Mary Tatum Chappell, Alexandria, Virginia NFB Human Services Mailing List

...FROM ME: No, I'm not the Robert in the TP. It was just time to use my name again.

**19. My first gut feelings are that it's a little barbaric and antiquated, how far have we progressed from that prime evil slime pit and from out of the trees if this can still be occurring, and allowed.

Claude Everett

**20. Well, you don't have to go all the way to the Islamic faith to find this "curse." Though it's written into the Koran that the disabled are to be cared for and sheltered, the role of the blind in the Bible is hardly any better. Many secular patriarchs have voiced a similar concern to me--one even offered to pay me to leave his daughter alone.

For me, personally, no relationship I've had has survived the test of the family--when family members bring pressure to dump the blind person in favor of someone more financially able, more physically normal or less "cursed," or handicapped, it's very rare that enough love and loyalty exists in the relationship to withstand the pressure.
Still. OUCH!

Mark BurningHawk

**21. Scary thought. I always felt my husband David (who is blind) was one of God's blessed. Still feel that way.

Lori Stayer NFB Writers' Division Mailing List

**22. This is one of those tough situations that doesn't have just one answer. I think that whatever answer anyone comes up with will depend greatly on one's level of tollerance for outright prejudice. As for me, I wouldn't put up with it especially since her father should know better being a Middle Eastern man in the United States. Had it been me in Robert's position, I would probably say something like the following:

Sir, with all due respect, I feel hurt by what you ust said to me. I understand you have strong feelings about blindness that are culturally defined, but I don't feel they're accurate. I feel they're based in fear and lack of insight. It's that same fear and lack of insight that creates prejudice which you've just shown to me. I don't feel your prejudice is any better or more correct than the prejudice shown to Middle Eastern people by some Americans. I am not cursed. I am financially independent. I have a career where I am respected by my colleagues. I have an apartment, friends and family who love and respect me, and a life worth living and sharing with someone I care about. I'm asking you to see past your prejudice and judge me on my personal merit rather than something I have no control over just as I've not judged you based on your country of orgion.

If the father still doesn't get it, the daughter may need to break out of cultural expectations and take a stand with her father. If she's not willing to do that, Robert may need to reconsider their relationship and find a better option.


**23. I had a hunch that this story would end that way, so I'll start off by saying that
Dara's father is not a "godly" man. He is a "superstitious" man. God Himself warned,
"Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but
shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19 14). So what this man says is
not only wrong, it is backwards. He himself is "cursed," because he dares to presume
that this blind man is.
Assuming the blind man is also white, I am surprised that this bigoted father had not
also made an issue of "race." But, again, God has never forbidden interracial marriage.

The story reminds me somewhat of Thought Provoker #100: When I Have Children.
In that story, the father invokes eugenics as an excuse to prevent his blind daughter
from possibly having blind children (and possibly prevent her from marrying in the first
place). Eugenics is the Hitleresque idea that man can "improve the race" through
selective breeding. Under such a system, the disabled would be forbidden to marry,
for fear that their particular disability might be inherited by the children. The idea is
insane and unworkable, because two perfectly-healthy parents could have a disabled
child. As such, eugenics would be every bit as stupid and sinful as this superstitious

Actually, this story is kind of the antithesis of Thought Provoker #83: Love, Blind
Sighted. In that one, a sighted man marries a blind woman, but no superstitious
objection is raised. Ironically, the blind woman in that story had proven herself to be
quite self-sufficient, in contrast to the prejudiced judgment of the father in this story.
Both superstition and the false science of eugenics will violate the right of the disabled
to marry. Under this so-called "Universal Health Care," the United Nations will sneak in a
"parenting license" law; which, applied to the disabled, will prevent them from either marrying
or child-rearing.
But, hey, at least this bigoted father will be happy.

David Lafleche

**24. I think that the father was "a little" abrup, although expressing the thoughts of many people.

I think it is incorrect to emphasize the point that they are Middle Eastern, as most "Westerners feel and behave the same way. Although it is written "Don't judge a book by its cover", that is life.

Solution: I try to convince the individual (taxi driver, bus driver, guy in the supermarket) that i am "normal" by smiling and acting "regularly"

Faith Sussman

**25. This is a post which is rather ticklish to address. Nonetheless, there are people who feel that anyone with a disability is half of a person, a lesser being and therefore should be delte with accordingly, there are also religions who curse those less fortunate, less able, less favored due to circumstance, disability, color or even that they don't worship the same god in the same way that others do.

It is ignorance that didn't allow this father to project further into the future. His excuse that though this blind guy was a fine gentleman and all that crap, didn't allow him to get past the fact that the couple might actually care for one another and that they would find a way too make things work., Blindness or not, we have even seen organizations in this country, like one in California, try and remove babies from a blind couple's custody.
Successful intervention by some wiser folks kept that from happening.

The feeling that possessing a disability makes one a lesser being has been a central theme in some of our lives on list, I'm certain, and whether one searches for a job or romance, whether one tries to rent an apartment or buy health insurance matters not. There are just people who will not understand or tolerate anyone different than they, no matter what the difference is.

I travel, with a guide dog, and have been discriminated against when I've entered cabs, restaurants, when I've tried to rent an apartment or secure employment. It's not easy overcoming prejudices or defeating them, but it can be done. From the earliest of times during biblical writings to the present day, with respect to the USA's ADA laws, the disabled, specifically the blind, have been thought of by those who are truly ignorant, as second class citizens. The blind beggar was turned away; thought of as diseased.
And in our modern day reading of many posts on Guide dog lists, employment forums, etc., we hear that prejudices still exist though laws state that discrimination should be a thing of the past. The song, however, for some remains the same. The cursed, indeed.

Mike T, NJ.

**26. I am blind, 77 years old and in my second, very happy, marriage.

Robert needs to move on. This girl is lovely, and I am sure they could be happy under different circumstances, i.e. American culture not dominated by thousands of years of practices that diminish women to tools of pleasure. The girl obviously believes in the custom or she would have avoided going to her father for permission. She would have gone with the announcement of the engagement. I think marriage for these two people would end up in disaster. While Robert seems willing, the girl does not seem willing to embark on this relationship without her father's consent. Obviously the narrow minded, uninformed father is a hindrance, and I don't think Robert has a snowball's chance in hell of getting him to see the light! Move on, Robert, and find a nice young lady without so much baggage.

Jim Theall, Longmont, Colorado

**27. One of my favorite quotes focuses on the question as to why God would create a child with major differences if he (God) was perfect? "The perfection is in the people around the child!" After raising many children others would not consider adopting, it still holds true today. There are many imperfect out there, but there are some might good people too! If anyone asks, my children are perfect!

Sue Harper NFB Blindkid Mailing List

**28. OUCH!!! That hurt!!! I'm afraid it happens though; much to often.

Thank God Sarah's family is Okay with our getting together and her moving down here. Sarah loves my family and my family loves her. This just causes the realization of how precious such a thing as that is. Thanks.

Ray Foret NFBtalk Mailing list

**29. My thoughts exactly. I don't know what I would do if my family or his were Muslims.


...FROM ME: "Feeling as Sarah does, I'd say she has some important learning that is needing to happen."

**30. My ex husband had this same type of experience with my parents.
They weren't keen on the idea of my marrying a blind man. In the Native
American culture, at least in mine, my family assumes the role of caring for their family members with disabilities. Some families assume that that particular family member cannot find or hold onto a job which is unfortunate.

We both had to work very hard to make my parents understand that we could make it in the world and that we didn't need to be cared for. Until they were able to reach the point of their understanding, it was very difficult for both of us because they tended to hover more than necessary.

Bonnie Ainsworth Nebraska NFBtalk Mailing List

**31. I know there are some cultures where the father/patriarch makes decisions and allows or disallows the marriages or career choices of their daughters, and that's bad enough. But I was not aware that blindness was considered a curse that would prevent a daughter from marrying or being married. Bad enough then assumes qualities approaching barbarism. It also intimates, without coming right out and saying so, that there is really no provision for the blind in those cultures, and anyone who is unlucky (cursed?) enough to be a part of those cultures must leave in order to get the help needed to be an independently functioning person. How sad.

Carolyn Gold FL

**32. WOW! The cursed blind statement bothers me. It is clear the father did not know any blind people or any that worked outside a sheltered Workshop. opportunity for education to happen.

Cari NFB Human Services

**33. why is it that people expect for us who are blind to date other people who are blind? everytime i am telling someone about my boyfriend they ask me if he is blind too. I have not yet dated anyone else who couldnt see but i wouldnt let vision be a deciding factor. plus i have been turned down by a guy who was sighted that a friend was hooking me up with and i told him i was blind...havent talked to him since...

Teal NFB NABS Mailing List

**34. This thought provoker primarily concerns itself with a specific culture, rather than a handicap, in this case blindness. I feel any type of disability, or for that matter even an ambulatory man could have slipped into this account. What is important is that this person is a Westerner.

We are not exposed whether or not Dara is Muslim or not? I’m going to hypothesize because of where Cairo is geographically, she is Muslim.

I don’t want anybody to perceive my words as being bigoted. However in my observations this is how I dissected this article.

Dara, who I will put in her early twenties, observes a nice looking man Robert coming towards her searching out a seat.

My perception of Dara is somebody who Leeds a sheltered life. Yes she is at some type of two day conference. Does the author of this essay omit the nature of this conference purposely? My opinion where Robert and Dara meet isn’t relevant to this narrative; thus the type of conference isn’t important to the inflection of this narrative. Roberts’s first inkling that this woman has her heritage from the Middle East is her accent. Robert is correct Dara is originally from Cairo, and recently from Philadelphia. How recent? Has she come to Philadelphia directly from Cairo? I feel these questions are important elements omitted. Since the author hasn’t supplied us with this information I’m going to take it upon myself to embolus this to support my findings.

Dara sees a blind man. She is curious about him. She has observed him during this unexplained conference. Is Robert the first blind man, or for that matter the first blind person she ever saw? I’m going to suggest that Robert is the first blind individual she has come directly in contact with. I think it is refreshing that we are observing a blind individual who is confident in his abilities, and educated. My observation is because he is attending whatever type of conference this is independently, and I perceive he isn’t from this area. Is he from Pennsylvania, or perhaps another state? I don’t judge this to be relevant. However Kara is from Philadelphia, we know this for she invited Robert over to her apartment.

Kara is a young woman, living in a western society. She observes perhaps friends, married couples or any type of camaraderie between males and females. We aren’t subjected to the type of clothing she is wearing. However I don’t believe she is wearing any type of vibrant colored or stylish outfits. As I suggested Dara is Muslim. I’m not going to confess that I recognize or know everything concerning Muslims. However I am aware that the father of any Muslim household, his word is law.

We have two distinct generations, Dara and her father. Dara is spreading her wings so to speak. She met somebody who she is attracted to. However she is a Muslim, and she knows she must have her fathers permission to date this man.

The father doesn’t approve of his daughters choice of men. Is this because Robert is blind, perhaps? However Whether Robert is blind, in a wheelchair, or a doctor or lawyer doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that Robert isn’t Muslim; therefore he is not good enough for his daughter. I sense no matter who his daughter brought home, if he wasn’t a Muslim, Dara’s father would have found fault with him. The father declares Robert is one of Gods cursed. Whose God is he referring to? Obviously the Muslim God Ala. Which supports what I just narrated? Muslims can only marry another Muslim.

Peter Poliey published author and poet

**35. Maybe Robert should ask her father to give him the chance to prove he was capable of earning a good living even though he is blind. As has been plainly shown in the message, Robert has had training, therefore my answer.

L.E.W. Chambers, NE

**36. If that is the way it is, the young man should go on his way and the young lady should respect her father's opinion. End of subject. That is how it is even in European cultures. In Eastern Europe, the handicapped children are put away and forgotten about. They are not even spoken of in the family.

Marie Sacramento, CA

**37. Wow. This is just weird, but I see where the father of a Muslim woman would lead her to believe that the blind men are cursed. I would marry a blind man even though I am blind myself. My family, being Catholic, does notoppose the marriage between a blind person and other people whether sighted or blind. But the Muslim religion should not forbid the blind from marrying the daughters of their family. And the father of this daughter is truly cursed if he thinks Robert in the provoker is cursed. This has been and always will be an interesting provoker.

Beth NFB NABS Mailing List

**38. That's not fair...i understand that people dont do well with things they do not understand but we see everything and just have a different perception and a different way of aproaching the action of " seeing. "

Teal NFB NABS Mailing List

**39. In reading this short story, there are both cultural and societal constraints. To have a condition that is seen as disabling or less than, is to be disabled and less than. The stigma still lives on. My daughter who is 27 talks about how people look -- "if you are going to have children, you want to look at the type of stock you are mating with to make sure the child will be good-looking." We see it in commercials, magazines, etc. all the time. That is the societal stigma. Who wants to be burdened with another's baggage?

In terms of cultural constraints, most cultures have some kind of stigma regarding blindness and other disabling conditions. Although my husband is also legally blind and has ocular albinism, as do two of his brothers, when we came into the room to tell his parents we wanted to get married, they just stood there silently. I have a very good relationship with my mother-in-law now, and I developed a great relationship with my father-in-law. Their family is Hispanic, and mine is Caucasian. However, that was not the problem; it was my total blindness.

When I asked my parents about marrying my husband, they were very concerned our children would be blind, so we talked with a physician about genetic possibilities. My parents were also not very educated and thought my husband's albinism was due to being Black. It was difficult to say which was the most difficult notion to dispel.

My husband and parents developed a wonderful relationship. We overcame the difficulties. However, culturally, if this marriage took place without the permission of the father, head of the family, I'm not so sure either she or Robert would have been welcomed, respected or accepted -- rather, shunning is a very common practice, and that is a very horrible thing to deal with in life, as it goes to the core and cuts off even the grandchildren.

They could try to work with her father, especially if they won over her mother, but this would be chancy and would probably take a lot of time. If Robert has a job and a nice place of his own to live, this might help, but I have strong doubts.

Christy Crespin, Highland, CA

**40. We can't know, for sure, if the father is using blindness or their perceived religious to deny Dara to marry; it might be cultural; it might be religious; he might have another idea or person in mind for his daughter to marry.

I don't even know what to say about the medical profession; I have heard some of the stupidest things come out of the mouths of academia's of all stripes.

There doesn't have to be a racial difference; I have a friend who married in middle age; to all accounts her husband is a good provider, and she has a job of her own and will have a good pension.

Her parents have never met him; they did not attend the wedding, so we can surmise that, either they never wanted her to marry, or they wanted her to marry a sighted man.

I'll stay away from churches here unless someone provokes a comment because my experiences have been very mixed.


**41. " are one of the cursed."
I'm sitting here with those words repeating over and over in my mind. Growing up in Jamaica we were not considered "cursed", but we were definitely misunderstood. Unemployment among the blind and visually impaired population in Jamaica is very close to 90%. Some of my friends were discarded as babies because the families felt they could not raise a blind child. In my own family we lived in Kingston the capital and had no contact with our rural relatives simply because my mother, her brother and later, myself are blind.
So though I did not grow up under a curse, I definitely grew up under a cloud of ignorance.

Janet, Seattle, Washington

**42. I hope that research was done before writing this. Especially with islamophobia at a peak, it seems unfair to continue to act on people's fears of what they don't understand. Is "God's cursed" an actual Islamic belief?
Lots could happen here. Parents get used to their children's partners. They only talked and had tea over their visit. Perhaps the father would learn that his hopeful son-in-law had a good job and was self-supporting. I don't think it's fair to just say "it's a fact of life" and move on, or say "my religion's not that way" because most people don't understand their own religion let alone someone else's which has been so negatively portrayed.

Sarah Jevnikar NFB NABS mailing list

**43. The woman's dad's response is not an unusual one for their religion because blindness is viewed as a curse brought on by a sin someone committed. This is not to say, though, that Christians never felt the same way because they did at one time. It was thought that any kind of disability was a blemish or a curse brought on by the devil, and. Thus, the disabled person was said to be possessed by the devil. You, as the blind person, can sit and educate such people of backwards thinking all you want, but the person has to want to be educated. Likewise, Islam teaches that dogs are unclean. If a Muslim insomuch brushes up against a dog by accident or intentionally, they have to clean themselves seven times; thus why their panic reaction when they see people with dogs as pets or service dogs, like guide-dogs. Lord knows I remember those days when I had a guide-dog and was living in a Public Housing apartment primarily populated by Somalis. The tenants would take off running or climb the walls of the elevator whenever my dog and I ended up in the elevator with the tenants.


**44. I wasn't really sure what to say about this one at first so I read the midpoint updates before I wrote this.

I didn't automatically think that Dara and her family were Muslims. After all, culture and religion are two different things, even though in some places they are closely intertwined. It is true that the idea that blind people are somehow less than sighted people is, or
can be, a universal cultural idea. Every country, every religion, every ethnicity has some story that portrays blind people in a negative light. It just so happens that in this thought provoker the cultures in question were Middle Eastern and Western. It doesn't seem to me that the specifics of whose culture is what is relevant to the situation that Robert and
Dara find themselves in. There are many cultures where the family has to approve
of the potential spouse in some way. It may not be as pronounced as the woman's father saying "I approve." That's why there are so many mother-in-law horror stories.

Without knowing too much about Middle Eastern culture, I can't presume to say that the father's attitude about blindness was a cultural belief. All we are told for sure is that he is the head of the family and his word is law, and if Dara were to go against his feelings her and Robert's relationship would come with some unpleasant consequences. How
unpleasant? It's difficult to say, but that's beside the point. The important thing is
that Dara's father views blindness as a curse. The why is not the issue. For all we know it could be because he has only ever met unsuccessful blind people. If that's the case, then it's no wonder that he has a negative opinion of a blind man's prospects. Perhaps he's never met any blind people before, in which case all he would have to go on is how
difficult he feels things would be for a blind person. It does, at least, sound like Dara has never met any blind people, however, based on her mental commentary, she may have met other people with disabilities with whom she did feel uncomfortable.

If Robert and Dara really do love each other, then they should not give up. People's opinions can be changed, though it may take some time. Perhaps if Dara's father is opposed to them being betrothed, he would be more accepting if they just cultivated a strong friendship. This would give him the chance to get to know Robert and to see what Robert was actually capable of doing. He may just need time to learn that his long-held
opinions and fears about blindness don't apply to Robert.

Gina Bunting, Jacksonville, FL

**45. I can think of several times in life when I was pitied because of my blindness. 2 of them were in college. One day, I was walking to class
when a fellow student walked up to me and implied that if I had enough faith, I would be healed. I told her that God does not always heal us in the way we would have preferred to have it done. Healing can come in many forms. An uncle thought I would be able to see after his "psychic therapist" used the "white light of Christ" to heal me. I think the light was what I saw after he cracked my neck into a painful mess. Today, I keep that healed with daily exercises and headache medicine.

Nancy L. Coffman, CVRCB
Program Specialist/Technology Services
Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired

**46. Cursed, hmmmm. Being blind isn't the only reason for a potential in law to not particularly like you. My future mother in law didn't like me before i went blind LOL.

Many people feel pity for a blind person and that is sort of a curse. It is inconceivable to believe that blind people are not helpless, hopeless, groping, staggering, dependent individuals capable of being fully human. Some people think you should "look and behave" a certain way if you are blind. If you don't, you must be faking or else you would not be trying to perpetrate a hoax on a confused, baffled, sighted person.

Although cultural attitudes do mitigate factors in many ways, It doesn't matter what religion, or part of the world you live in because the "curse" is not about being blind. It is a glitch in the mind and perception of the one labeling the blind person "cursed." Somehow, we can't help what has been nurtured in us and to think otherwise is painful, awkward and stretching our tolerance beyond what is comfortable.

Just throw this one on the heap of stuff blind and visually impaired people have to cope with daily. Ignorance can drive you mad if you allow it. You have to sort through what is important.

For Robert and Dara, I say this; if there is love, and love is blind, hopefully, love will prevail in this scenario.

Virginia (Ginger) Sblendorio

**47. I must have missed this thought provoker, and apologize for the late
response. This particular TP touched a sensitive area. As many of the
listers know, I am totally blind, and a young female college student.
Being a young adult, naturally I find myself contimplating
relationships and becoming romantically interested. It is interesting
to me how a disability can strike fear into people, how being blind
must be something bad, and not only for people who have all sighted
individuals in their family like the female in this story. My mother
often complains that the males I become interested in are blind, and
their for will not be able to take care of me, which is interesting
because she has raised me to be very self sufficient and independent,
which leaves me questioning, if a blind male is incapable of caring
for me because he is blind, does she truly see me as able to care for

I love the way you played out the story, and despite his oppinion, I
even like the father, he was straight forward and honest. Many people
try and gently lead up to the issue of blindness without actually
saying what they think out right.

Thank you.
Aziza C, (NFB California)

**48. I am not even going to consider religion here but talk about cultural differences. In many cultures, a daughter is expected to show respect to elders, defer to their knowledge and life experience. To stand against an elder is not easy and can mean breaking perhaps forever with the extended family. In the current U.S. norm, families are small, nuclear groups consisting of parents, children, and perhaps a grandparent or two. Often siblings drift apart and relocate hundreds of miles away. In many patriarchal cultures, the family is the base one returns too to share both times of joy and celebration and those of trouble. They provide a safety net that can be counted on. They may bicker, be nosy, make demands of time and energy, but they are also there when you need them. To walk away from that security isn't easy. As to viewing blindness as a curse, yes some people do view it that way. My father was Apache, catholic and a master sergeant in the army when I lost my vision. He chose to believe my mother was to blame, no child of his could be imperfect. My Chippewa great grandmother on the other hand gave me Quietwater as my name to denote a state of perfection. A quiet water day is one on which it is safe to venture out on the Great Lakes in a canoe to fish. Everything is sunny, calm and serene. On my husband's 21st birthday, we were going out to dinner with his parents to an expensive restaurant and a play. A woman in the elevator asked my mother-in-law, which of us was her child. She answered that Curtis was her son and I his wife. The stranger exclaimed "How wonderful of him to have married her!" Fortunately for me, I had a terrific mother-in-law. She replied, "Not particularly, he happens to be in love with her." Her father though warned my husband in a letter after being introduced to me, "Be careful of that girl. She is probably only in college looking for a husband and someone to take care of her." Families can be wonderful or terrible in their judgments. Because they are so important to us, their reactions can be devastating. They can provide us that safe zone from which to go out and challenge the world, a smothering confinement or so fragmented we hardly have one at all. They provide our first mirrors in giving us a picture of who we are. Still, ultimately, we must define ourselves for ourselves and make the best of the gifts and shortcomings that we are given. The final choice is ours. Robert can choose to walk away, or attempt to dispel Dara's father's misconceptions. Dara can choose to stand by her man of choice, or retreat back in to her safety zone. Whichever they decide is ultimately up to them. I guess my reaction to this story is that when life hands us lemons, it is we that must decide what to do with them. I choose to bake a pie and top it with golden meringue. Yum!

DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, Fulton Missouri