Helen Keller was born June 27, 1880. At the age of two she suffered an illness that left her blind and deaf. Her parents took her to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell who recommended the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston.
It was there, at age of 7, that Helen Keller was taught by Anne Sullivan through the sense of touch. Anne eventually taught Helen to read Braille. Helen Keller began attending Radcliffe College, where Anne Sullivan interpreted the lectures. Helen became concerned about all the blind, especially those blinded in World War I or by poor working conditions. Though naive in her political views, she received numerous international honors for her efforts to help the blind.
Helen Keller learned to type on a Braille typewriter and wrote many books between 1903 and 1941, including:
- “The Story of My Life,” 1903
- “Optimism,” 1903
- “The World I Live In,” 1908
- “The Song of the Stone Wall,” 1910
- “Out of the Dark,” 1913
- “My Religion,” 1927
- “Midstream,” 1930
- “Let Us Have Faith,” 1941
- “The Open Door,” 1957
Helen Keller stated: “I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.”
In the film documentary of her life, “The Unconquered,” Helen Keller responded to the question, “Can you see the world?”: “I can see, and that is why I can be so happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world.”
On June 26, 1955, regarding reading the Bible, Helen Keller stated: “It gives me a deep comforting sense that ‘things seen are temporal and things unseen are eternal.'”
The Jewish and Christian Bible view of handicapped persons is strikingly different from other belief systems. The traditional Islamic attitude is that a handicapped person is being punished or cursed of Allah. “Such are the men whom Allah has cursed for He has made them deaf and blinded their sight.” (Qur’an 47:23) The Hindu and Buddhist attitude is that a handicapped person is being punished for sins of a supposed past life by an impersonal “bad” karma. The Socialist attitude is that a handicapped person is a burden on the state, being worth less because of their limited capacity to contribute to society.
The Jewish attitude is in Leviticus 19:14 “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord,” and Deuteronomy 27:18 “Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.”
The Christian attitude was expressed by Jesus, who said “Whatever you have done unto the least of these my brethren you have done unto me.”
Helen Keller stated: “Just as all things upon earth represent and image forth all the realities of another world, so the Bible is one mighty representative of the whole spiritual life of humanity.”
On Feb. 5, 1955, at the age of 74, Helen Keller typed a message on a conventional typewriter during an interview with newsmen just prior to her 40,000 mile world-wide journey, much of which was by airplane: “It’s wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears.”
On June 26, 1955, the day before her 75th birthday, Helen Keller stated: “Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in the world.”
Helen Keller was introduced to President Grover Cleveland at age 7. She met President Eisenhower in 1953. She received letters from eight U.S. presidents – from Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 to Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. In 1961, Helen Keller met President John F. Kennedy. She received the French Legion of Honor and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.
A statue of Helen Keller as a young girl, learning the sense of touch at a water pump is in the U.S. Capitol from the State of Alabama.
Helen Keller concluded: “Four things to learn in life: To think clearly without hurry or confusion; to love everybody sincerely; to act in everything with the highest motives; to trust God unhesitatingly.”
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