Abuse of Power

by Talmalene Addleman

   I was a third generation witness. I was baptized in 1978. After serving for some years, I drifted away from the organization for seven years. After my mother's death, and my daughter's, I decided to start attending meetings again. I needed to brush up on the new things learned, so I accepted a study. 
   The meetings were as I remembered. Having my guide-dog at the meetings would make it easier, so I asked the sisters if she could go. After a year of refusals, I suggested that they ask an elder. 
   He flatly refused to allow her entry, so I called Seeing Eye, who wanted to take them to court, but I refused; making them promise to send literature only.
   I had just finished the article about not taking your brother to court, so I was extremely tactful about making waves. Weeks passed, and I wasn't thinking about it any more, When I received a call from an elder.
   He said, Did you send for this information from seeing-eye?"  Not feeling threatened, I replied in the affirmative. He raged! Jezebel!" "You're making God's name to be spoken of abusively." He couldn't hurt me more, if he had cursed me, because I felt that I'd done everything possible to be respectful. He raged on, but my mind was in a fog, and couldn't comprehend what was being said, but I knew that I had to calm him do, or I'd be in hot water quick. Finally, he told me that Seeing-eye had sent a paper along with the literature, which mentioned how businesses and other public places could be taken to court, for refusing the dogs. I reassured him that my intent was education, not prosecutory, and that the school had acted against my advise. He began to calm down saying, "well, we'll forget this thing then," abruptly ending the call. He has never apologized, or mentioned that call.         
    For months I managed without the dog, making others responsible for attending to my basic needs, and trying to put up with feeling valueless, and stripped of my dignity. It was mentioned that we sometimes have to sacrifice our wishes for the cohesiveness of the group.  
Sightless people fight for those things which others take for granted, acceptance, dignity, independence, etc. This could have been a learning experience for that congregation, but his behavior allowed them to stay stuck in their prejudice, fear, and ignorance. Never will I allow anyone to make me feel valueless and invisible again.
                                Talmalene Addleman.   

ready Tammy's Getting Along as a Blind Person
back to Stories
Main Page