Life is a daring adventure or nothing – Helen Keller
The story of Helen Keller, the blind and deaf girl who was taught by an extraordinary teacher to communicate with the real world has fascinated many people for almost a century.
A small girl, who lived in a state deprived from the senses we take for granted was able to join the world in a completely different way. In her young life she was able to overcome obstacles and challenges that “normal” people may find impossible.
She didn’t know that what she wanted to accomplish was supposed to be “impossible”. She aspired to great things. She says I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
Her disabilities were not a limiting factor in her quest. She says that I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.
As a writer, Helen Keller was an inspiration to all the blind and deaf people over the world. Her writings showed her interest in the beauty of things, taken for granted by those who can see and hear.
She believed that Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
In her later life, where she made herself politically unpopular becoming a socialist. The news editor of the Brooklyn Eagle that previously complimented her on her courage and intelligence wrote that her socialist viewers were “mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development.”. In reply to this, Helen responds:
At that time the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence during the years since I met him…Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent.
She wrote that her reason for her motivation for activism came in part from her concern about those with blindness similar disabilities. She writes:
I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers. And the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame that ended in blindness.
(The last part refers to prostitution and the resulting syphilis, which was a cause of blindness in those times.)
The pundits of the day found her politics in conflict with their vision of her as an inspirational young person.
In retrospect, we can see that she was living consistently. She was a woman who believed she could change, not only her world, but everyone else’s as well.
She wasn’t content to overcome her own disabilities, but wanted to find the cause and do something about the problem for everyone. In her words, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.”
Although a blind person, she had vision She believed that having a vision first, then the means to accomplish it would follow. She says that It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal.
I think Helen Keller’s entire life story is more inspirational than the various telemovie versions of her early life. Clearly she was a passionate person who believed that she could make a difference and actively pursued a course that she believed could change the world.
I think she did.