Lee Robertson: Food for thought (BSL)

Posted on January 20, 2015

You know what? I’ve had enough of the world we live in.

I want to go on a journey, far away, to a distant planet, and I’d like you to come with me.

To watch this article in BSL, signed by Lee, click play below:

On this planet the population is hugely varied. They have different cultures, their faces, skin colours and sizes are all different. They also have people with disabilities such as blind people, people without arms or legs, and people who use wheelchairs.

This population, as a whole, focus intently on the food they produce and the way it is cooked, ensuring that they grow tall and strong and able to learn. There isn’t a large variety of a food to choose from, but rather a smaller, more considered selection.
Some of the people here are thin and malnourished because they have great difficulty eating the food on offer. This is happening because their food pipes are shaped differently from the rest of the population, stopping them from consuming the food.

Some of this group of people have tried different foods, outside of the normal selection on offer. After a few attempts of eating the food, they realised that they were able to consume it successfully. Over time, this group have banded together, sharing information about which food they were able to eat.

So the wider population gave this group some land on which to grow their special food produce. This food is cooked in a different process to the normal selection on offer, and when eaten the previously malnourished group grow tall and strong and able to learn, which is great.

Some individuals in the wider population try the new special food and really enjoy it. Others try, but do not like the taste, most likely because they have grown up eating the normal selection and are used to that. In fact, most of the population do not like the new food, thinking it strange.

Some don’t try it or try it once or twice before decided that it is not to their taste. This has led to the two communities becoming distant from each other, the wider population pushing the smaller population into obscurity.

Lots of people within the wider population do actually have different shaped food pipes, but they do not know that there are different food types available which they can easily consume, meaning they are trapped in ignorance within the wider population.

I’d like to tell you a story. Some couples within the wider population have new born babies diagnosed by the doctor as having the different shaped pipe. The parents are immediately grief stricken, fretting over how they will feed their child and worrying that they do not know the different foods or cooking methods, to match their child’s needs.

The doctor then explains that there is a way to solve the child’s problem. He suggests that instead of feeding them the normal food as they themselves would eat it, they must be more forceful, shoving the food into the child’s mouth and down the food pipe.

The parents take this advice and when back in their home they begin to force the food into the child’s mouth. The child suffers this procedure with discomfort, but with every mouthful he swallows his parents are visibly elated and seeing this, the child is in turn happy to please his mother and father. The child’s eagerness to please is misconstrued by the parents as enjoyment and happiness with the forced feeding process.

The doctors then call for more money to be invested into their research for a cure and huge amounts of money are given to the doctors’ cause. The smaller community require funding to research how to properly grow and expand their special foods, but only tiny amounts are given to the minority group as they are so small in comparison to the wider population.

As these children grow older, they still have difficulty eating and gaining nourishment from the forced food. Of course some of them do so successfully, but for most it is fruitless struggle.

Because of this, eventually the wider population do decide to use some of the special food to feed those amongst them who have the different food pipes. These people still remain, however, thin and malnourished. The minority group explain this is because it requires a specific cooking process to properly gain nourishment.

So they accept this and learn from the smaller community about their food and how it is cooked, but they only learn this information to a level 1 or level 2 standard, not to a high quality like level 6. They think that these low levels are enough to begin cooking and feeding those among them with different food pipes, ignoring the protests and warnings from the minority group that they should learn to a higher level.

The children being fed this low quality food are angry because it tastes like shit, which is seen by the wider population as them being naughty or having some sort of mental impairment. The minority group explain that it is because they have not cooked the food properly, these objections are ignored.

This situation continues. The children grow up thin, weak and submissive. The smaller group shrink and cannot progress. The wider population see no need for land to be given to such a small group and subsequently take the land off them and use it to grow their own food. The smaller group protest that they need the land, but the wider population argue that their forced feeding process is working well and that they receive no complaints or refusal.

The smaller group explain that this is because after so long of feeding them the wrong foods, they have become too weak to object. Again this is dismissed and they are adamant their methods are successful. This situation continues, with the smaller group unable to develop, and their protests disregarded.

So, the small community remains stagnant, whilst the wider population thrive. If the smaller group disappear completely, those who need (but have never tried) the special food, will have lost out on the nourishment it could have provided.

Who should work to protect the smaller group? Should they be expected to protect themselves? Or should the wider population take this responsibility?

What do you think?

Lee Robertson defines himself as a profoundly visual person and believes that the world hasn’t yet tapped into the enormous potential that sign languages have to offer. He was born and bred in Scotland, and now lives in Lancashire.

Translation by Laurence Mason.

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