I recently learned of an interesting new term: Audism. The word is fairly new, and it is used to express the oppression that deaf people have historically faced from hearing people. Discrimination based on race is racism, based on gender is sexism, and based on the ability to hear is audism. My goal is not to belittle the sufferings of any group of people, but this obsession within our society of “exposing” all of these forms of oppression has to stop. Whether it be racism, sexism, ageism, audism, or any other “-ism”, this fixation on searching out ways in which people are oppressed is extremely dangerous behavior.
Regardless of the oppression that any American faces, we all still live in America. That is really all that needs to be said on the matter. There is an endless plethora of success stories of Americans overcoming the worst circumstances and making their dreams come true. From people like Jim Abbott who, despite being born with only one hand, became a successful Major League Baseball pitcher; to someone like Dave Ramsey who was bankrupt in his late twenties yet still managed to become a multimillionaire within a few short years after filing for bankruptcy. It does not matter how tough one’s life is, how much they are oppressed, or how many handicaps they have–If an American wants to be successful, they can be.
The biggest problem that stems from obsession with oppression is that it divides our society. We are all split up into our little oppressed groups, and then pitted against each other in some kind of sick game to see who deserves the biggest pity party. There is the biggest divide between black people and white people, and then there is Hispanics and Latinos versus European-Americans, followed by men versus women, and let’s not forget to divide hearing people and deaf people. Everyone is lumped into a societal group, and the group that is determined to be the least oppressed is then hated by all the other groups. This is all just an absolutely ridiculous disaster. How about we all just be Americans and leave it at that? Whatever happened to our country being the great melting pot? Why must we incessantly pit Americans against one another?
The only way this mess ends is with all Americans hating one another. White people apparently deserve to be oppressed by blacks to even the score of our nation’s racist history, but within the black community the women still need to fight against the oppressive men, and the black deaf people need to fight against all of the oppressive hearing people. Where do we draw the line?
I have heard firsthand multiple stories of deaf people experiencing oppression in the form of their relatives leaving them out of conversations. It can be a real chore for a hearing person to communicate with a deaf relative, so deaf people will often have to struggle to understand even the biggest things being said, and they are often just left out of the conversation entirely. Every time one of these stories is told it is met with instant denunciation of the hearing family member for being so rude. But when a deaf person relates a turning of the tables and leaves hearing family members out of conversations with deaf friends, the story is always met with laughter and applause. The best solution we have for oppression is more oppression.
The most perfectly simple and brilliant solution to our problem of obsession with oppression actually comes from a surprising source. Morgan Freeman, when asked how we are to get rid of racism, responded simply, “Stop talking about it.” This is all we have to do to overcome oppression. I will never forget watching an interview in which a deaf woman said, “Imagine how I felt when I realized I had been oppressed my whole life.” This idea of discovering that one has been oppressed is ludicrous. If someone doesn’t know they are being oppressed, they aren’t actually being oppressed.
This problem seems to be most prominent in our country because we are so affluent. Our affluency and luxurious living conditions grant us the time to worry about such trifle things as discovering that we have been oppressed. It is hard to imagine how someone living in a Middle Eastern country fighting for their life each day would view us Americans as we complain about all of the different forms of oppression we are experiencing. I find it hard to believe that audist behavior such as the story of a hearing cashier rolling her eyes at a deaf customer is really such a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Obsession with oppression is having detrimental effects on our society as we daily become more divided, but the idea was actually started with the best of intentions. Americans do have a terrible history of oppressing one another, but our overwhelming goodness has caused us to realize our faults and attempt to correct them. This seems like an innocent idea, but the practice has now been taken to the absolute extreme. Americans have to stop being constantly shamed. Nothing good can from destroying national pride.
Instead of focusing on each and every injustice one receives throughout his life, Americans need to stop making excuses and start reaching some goals. I am really sorry if someone has been treated poorly throughout their life, but guess what? Everyone else has too! Every single person in the history of the world has been oppressed in some form or another. I don’t want to seem too harsh here, but if someone has been oppressed–get over it! Move on! The solution to oppression is not “spreading awareness” nor “breaking the silence”. The solution is simply to have more people following God’s laws. Instead of focusing so much on ourselves and how much the evil practice of oppression hurts us, let us realize that it offends our God even more, and let that be our driving reason to have it eliminated. Someone once told us: “And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner.” It seems rather obvious that if we all simply followed that Golden Rule and all of His other teachings, we wouldn’t have this silly problem.