In Oklahoma, on March 28th, I showed up to a teachers’ workshop along with about 75 other people. The speakers, one Deaf and one Hearing, gave an excellent presentation, including the importance of a whole language, engagement, planning, team teaching, and seeing each student’s set of skills and needs. People took note: “start where the student is.”
Hundreds and thousands of people have pointed to the need for student-centered teaching or client-centered therapy or child-centered parenting or citizen-centered governing. It’s such an old concept. If it were a pair of shoes we would only see bare feet by now. Why, then, do we need to hear, read, see or talk about it over and over, again?
That is a perfect seque to talking about myself. I want to see me, tell you about my starting point, my opinion, my new, unique and brilliant perspective. I want everything to be about me. That desire doesn’t change when I become a teacher or a therapist or a parent or the president of the United States. Other-centered anything is a foreign concept to my ego, and always will be. I, fortunately, am not only my ego. The bigger-than-ego Susan, the Self that is connected to all of life needs to be reminded of otherness, many times, in order to counter that persistent ego who keeps whispering, singing or screaming: “me, me, me.”
War, fighting, competition, fear-based governing, bullying, violence – of any kind – is not called “alternative” ways of being. They all grow out of that “me, me, me” mentality which immediately leads to “us-them” and “those people,” escalating to “enemies.” Alternative anything deals with otherness. It is only when I contemplate the other as part of “me” that my thinking can be more creative and inclusive. Do we need the Latin word? Let’s talk about other thinking, other economies, other living. Most people would agree we are not doing very well on many fronts. Let’s try the other road.
Why not try an alternative? Alternate (take turns with the other)?
Thinking of others who may not have any funds, I am choosing to practice the gift economy – giving books, DVDs, and my time to building community and supporting education with ASLTales books/DVDs, A Man Without Words – book and DVD (short documentary), and NOW (trumpet and drums and hand waving): Without Words, an ASL/English play, celebrating what we can learn from OTHERs. What can we learn from a languageless man? What can we learn from Deaf people who use more of their cerebral cortex for visual information processing than hearing people? How can we see what we can’t see? Hopefully, the stage can launch our imaginations, and our journey to an alternative way of learning and being.
May Without Words inspire and transform, give us an alternative pair of glasses, and move us from “me” to “we.” I am on my way to North Carolina where I will be helping to recruit and support Deaf actors, consultants, dancers, an ASL master or two, and a few token hearing people. : ) I can’t do it. We can. The gift economy involves giving in all directions.
Give the gift of support of a Deaf actor and/or some expenses for a day or two or a week. Give the gift of an hour or three of ASL interpreting. We are over half way there.
We have a matching grant to match your dollars up to $1500 until May first. Let’s do it.
Give a gift at the button to your left, and help build an alternative world where we are they and they are us, an alternative reality, beginning on a stage in Boone in July.
For sharing stories to build community,