ABU(Senior group) Fine Work
LIVING IN PEACE, HOW?
Jamile Qaneh Afghanistan (32, Female)

Living in peace is the state of being in peace with yourself and others around you. It starts within a person, and is the requirement for flourishing societies and developing countries. In fact, the continuity of human being depends on peace. The blinds, as member and building block of human society, needs to have and be in peace in order to reach their potential, as well as, serve the humanity. However, peace at global level is too broad and complicated topic; therefore, the focus here is on issue that is of interest to us blinds: living in peace -- starting with ourselves. 

Human being is superior to other beings only because of its brain. Sight is merely a source to collect information. However, most people have not only overrated its importance but also accompanied stigma with its absence. On the other hand, living in peace is, indeed, the peace of mind. Being able to see or not see has, and should have, negligible effects on living in peace. Which is the case in inclusive society. Unfortunately, experience shows our society is far from being perfect when it comes to dealing with blindness. Therefore, the blind must bring changes in perception, adjust behavior, and acquire certain skills which are essential for living in peace. These include, but are not limited to, accepting the fact, contentment, perception of the blindness, self-esteem, confidence, social network, physical activity, independence,self-sufficiency etc.

In order to overcome a problem, we need to understand it and accept the reality. Blindness must be faced. In my society, we use the words such as “sightless” and “bright-hearted”. This is simply hiding the reality in words, and avoiding the issue. It shows the person has not accepted the truth yet. Such language automatically creates the ‘Blind & Normal’ classification where the blindness is some sort of negative condition, and is accompanied by stigma. Speaking clearly, people who cannot see are ‘blind’; and have to embrace the truth and move forward with their lives.By doing so, we focus on what we have rather than what we don’t. This is an important step towards contentment and satisfaction.

Furthermore, humans can have different characteristics which may have its limitations. For example, a very short person cannot be a military officer or an uneducated person cannot be a cardiologist etc. However, these characteristics are not considered as abnormal by the society. The same should be true about blindness. It is true that blind faces certain limitations (The same as people with other characteristics do)which can be frustrating sometimes, but it does not mean blindness is an abnormal state. Accordingly, the blind should consider blindness as a characteristic rather than a condition to be ashamed of. Hence, we must love ourselves the way we are in order to have self-respect. Self-respect leads to self-esteem which is a crucial part of confidence.

What limits our confidence is not the physical loss, rather it is our and the society’s negative perception of blindness. The belief that blind is dependent is the false opinion holding us back. The blind, together with their social network, civil society, educational centers, and governmental organizations must address this problem. We, the blinds, have to start with positive changes in our behavior, attitude and perception about blindness. The blinds are and must see themselves as normal members of the society, and so does the sighted people. When we change our perspectives about our blindness, our peers and the society will follow us ultimately.

On the other hand, happiness is the key to living in peace. In fact, a happy person, regardless of being blind or sighted, lives in peace with himself and others. On the contrary, depression has devastating effects on living in peace. Research shows that social support is a helpful tool against depression, and low social support can be a significant risk-factor. In other words, people who have a wider circle of family and friends, and are in regular contact with them, are more likely to be happy than others who don’t have it. That being said, the blind has to stay away from loneliness andactively try to establish, strengthen, and broaden his social connections. Proper use of any type of social network is helpful; however,in my experience, the traditional real-life social network yields better results compared to the onlineones.

In addition, sports and recreational activities are another means for living in peace. Physical activity keeps us fit and healthy, and increases self-esteem. It lowers body fat and blood pressure, and decreases chances of heart attack. Studies have shown a link between physical activity and secretion of endorphins (A substance useful against anxiety and depression) in the body. Hence, besides physical advantages, the sports is a natural anxiolytic and antidepressant. Therefore, it is imperative for each and every blind to do regular physical activity for a healthy and happy life.

Moreover, independency and self-sufficiency are of significant importance to a blind in order to live in peace. It can be achieved only if the blind has appropriate skills, proper job, reasonable income, and respectable position in the society.  Mobility training, education (Especially inclusive education), vocational training, and access to job market are requirements for achieving this goal. It is a realistic and result-oriented approach; nevertheless, it is also full of challenges. Vocal organizations of the blind, accountable governments with political will, international technical and financial support in developing countries, targeting the right people, providing equitable access, and many years of hard work are required for this paradigm shift. Tireless and wholehearted commitment and dedication to the cause will lead to desired outcome. 

In conclusion, living in peace is of vital importance both for blinds and sighted people. It starts from within a person, in this context, a blind, and works towards making the world a better place. In order to do so, s/he needs to carefully specify values and set goals for her/himself since they will serve as guiding philosophy for her/his life. The next step is bringing changes in perception, adjusting behavior, and acquiring certain skillsto be able to achieve the goals. Challenges and problems constantly arise for discouragement, but commitment, persistence, and tireless efforts always pays off. In the process or working towards the goals, the feeling which comes with reaching each objective cannot be explained by words: The tears of joy is worth it.  Finally, a happy, healthy, successful, independent, and self-sufficient blind not only lives in peace himself but also helps others live in peace.




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