Some would argue the greatest love stories of history are that of Romeo and Juliet, the great Shakespeare spinning his convoluted webs; others argue for Mark Antony and Cleopatra. But, a great man once taught me of the love that beats all of these fabled tales, a love that sits beneath our noses, since the beginning of time, and yet we overlook it day in and day out; Adam and Eve.
Imagine yourself in a pure world. The trees stay green and vibrant; flowers sway gently in the wind, the sun doesn’t melt your brain but shines warmly on your cheeks. You walk in harmony with the lions, tigers, and bears. Death is not a word in which you have to subject your brain to knowing or understanding. Love. Love is all you know.
Adam did not have to imagine this world; he lived it. However, Adam only knew two kinds of love. He knew of agape--the infinite self-sacrificing love of God, and Philia, the love that coalesces with friendship, stemming from his fellowship with his Creator. God walked, talk, loved and communed with Adam. But, the Infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent Lord knew Adam missed something, something fundamental to the human existence He had breathed to life; eros--romantic love between man and woman.
As history goes, God put Adam into a deep sleep, assumedly a deep sleep we can only assume attainable for us thanks to modern medicine known as anesthesia. God took a rib from Adam’s side, and from this bone, He created Eve. Eve, life, the mother of Earth, beauty unmatched by any other, and not merely because she was the only female. From Eve came every other human being; from her came every form of beauty.
Adam loved Eve instantly. The first time you fall in love is always a breathtaking experience, like falling into an abyss with no fear of crashing, soaring like a bird over river beds. God gave Adam a trust that had never been broken, with no fear of such a thing happening.
To walk and talk without the things that cause humans to fear and hold back, no thought of judgment, no hurt, an unstained heart. These are what Adam and Eve had together. An unimaginable bond. A bond of legends and fairytales we only hope to gain and struggle to put into words in today’s world.
Love as we know it is a finicky thing, feeble, weak, worldly. Most people don’t find it worth their time; they are self-sufficient, in need of noone--at least in their minds. Romeo and Juliet may have had a forbidden love, making it enticing and whimsical, but Adam and Eve had nothing holding them back. God Himself created this love; God encouraged this love, God wanted them both to experience this love. Adam and Eve found something magical; agape, philia, and eros all in one package. This kind of love does not even have a word of its own. Why? You may ask. Because it is something that will never again exist.
Lucifer, the most beautiful angel of all eternity, the evilest being in all the world, bringer of death, prince of darkness, the god of this world, saw this relationship and ruined it.
Eve walked in her garden, her home, her heart at complete peace. The suspicion of evil was not a concept she knew in order to be on guard. After all, in a perfect world where no bad, evil, or sin exists, would you mind your step and protect your heart? Protect it from what? Guard it against what? Nothing. Nothing evil exists. This would have been a silly concept.
Satan preyed upon Eve’s purity. For us, this is not a new concept. We live in a world where our eyes experience temptation, our hearts are vulnerable, our minds easily swayed, and our paths easily stumbled upon. For Eve, she knew no harm, no hardship, simply love.
The great serpent opened her eyes to the forbidden fruit that never crossed her mind before that fateful day. God said not to eat the fruit, and Eve held no such intentions. Until at last, temptation arose. Satan offered the beautiful mother of all the opportunity for wisdom, to know something only God knew; good and evil. Wisdom, the great temptress of us all. To err is human. To seek knowledge is human. Knowledge is power. Presenting a human with the opportunity to learn, correct behavior, grow or develop, they take it; greedy and hungry for all they can experience.
Eve plucked and ate the fruit, seeking knowledge promised to her by someone appearing to possess more power than her. The world may have stopped spinning for her at this moment. For us, it did. God exists outside of time; at this moment, He watched as each of us, throughout human history, throughout human existence, altered our courses. We shifted in our lives, whether we know it or not.
The fruit slid down Eve’s throat, staining her white heart, and the serpent laughed, celebrated. Eve knew what she had done, but there was no changing it now. That pure love she knew, the one of a kind, never again able to be replicated love, slipped from her heart, her mind, and her very sense of self. Panic ripped through her chest. The monster--we know this to be humanity--within her took over, desperately clinging to get back that feeling. We all know that desperation. If you’re alive, you know that desperate, pleading, ripping sensation in your gut. You could tear yourself apart from the inside out, trying to fix it and hold onto it. That is what Eve did.
The method for reattaining that feeling? Eve offered the fruit to Adam; she did not die when she ate it, just as Satan had said. She knew of good and evil, wisdom to which she never knew before. The understanding that previously only God held. The fruit sat on the palm of Eve’s beautiful, corrupted, and wicked hand, waiting for Adam to accept.
Humans spend their time ripping apart these parents of all. We blame Adam for ruining it; we blame Eve for falling for it.
Adam snatched the fruit that his breathtakingly beautiful wife held and bit down, swallowing the poison, much in the fashion of our fabled Romeo, choosing death over separation from Eve. But, Adam wasn’t merely choosing death as the weak story of Romeo and Juliet so spins. Adam chose separation from purity, from paradise, from heaven, from the Creator. Adam chose the end of the world, to be with Eve. He decided to spend the rest of his days chasing this three-in-one love that could never exist again. That is a true tragedy, Shakespeare could never attempt to create. Adam chose Eve over everything.
Their previously peaceful world that knew no war, famine, fight, or death, turned against them. Animals that once slept by their side now hungered for their blood. The smell of rotting flesh entered their nostrils, blood stained their hands, sin tainted their marriage, and hunger hollowed their bellies. The only choice was to turn savage; killing for survival, skinning for warmth, learning how the hunted become the hunter. Still, Adam chose Eve over everything.
Flowers that once held beauty and sweet scents that filled their chest with comfort and a sense of peace now wilted, died, and turned to dust, crumbling in their hands. The sun that warmed their cheeks now burned their flesh.
Adam struggled to keep them together every day, battling for life. He felt guilt every time he was unable to provide for his wife. He felt heartbreak when her once ageless face wrinkled and spotted with age. Adam chose Eve over everything.
Eve, however, suffered the most. Eve lived with the tragedy of her two precious firstborn sons, gifts from God Himself--who continued to love and bless them; agape--turned on one another. Murder. Eve survived her children murdering each other. Eve lived with loss that God had intended for no woman to experience. Adam watched his sons act upon the pure evil heart he had helped to bring to existence. Adam chose Eve over everything.
Adam and Eve spent their entire lives chasing the perfect trifecta love; a love that will never exist again. Adam chose Eve over everything; that is the ultimate love story. Adam chose Eve over God; Adam chose Eve over Everything.
Let’s address the ocean—a tree with endless fruit from which authors LOVE to pluck. I find myself wondering, why do we always come to this as our perfect allegory? How dull, unoriginal. But, then what else is there in this world more elegant and beautiful, more poetic? The mysteries of the deep can invoke fear, tranquility, love, mystery, excitement. Every single emotion can be found within the ocean. As someone who hates the ocean, I hate to love this. And yet I find myself plucking from its branches, low hanging fruit, to describe and create. Even still, it may be “low hanging fruit,” it is still incredibly difficult to do it justice because of this fact, becoming its own puzzle to master—a challenge to all. There is nothing new under the sun.
We live in a world where if you don’t know something, others look down upon you. Whether it be obscure fact or common knowledge, you didn’t know it? You’re immediately discredited as a human being. I ask you to look inward, analyze this occurrence, and ask yourself why?
Because we live in a highly competitive, fast-paced society that values only knowledge, it is my opinion that this has put us on the path of self-destruction. We have become incredible chameleons, pretending to know the true depths of what someone is saying without knowing anything at all. If we do not instantly agree or corroborate what this supposed knowledgeable person says, we are labeled dumb or less than (let it be noted as I typed this on my phone, a clown emoji was suggested). Research is dead. I speculate that the majority of people that hear one talking with confidence about the science of proper hair care, why dinosaurs don’t disprove creation, germ theory, or whatever other obscure sciences come to mind, will in fact, not go home and further investigate BOTH sides of what was stated, nor will they admit they do not comprehend what is being said. If they go home and research further, their information will be limited as far as both sides and opinions. Why? Because the big guys, big companies, big kahunas, and the rich have limited our research capabilities and have convinced us that despite this limited information, the world’s knowledge is at our fingertips. We find basic surface information and call it fact because someone seemed educated enough to write about it. That is the true American tragedy. It is for this reason that I encourage each of you reading this to admit when one does not know something. Ask questions, speculate, debate, and share information always, for the reliance on technology is crippling, and far worse than that is the shame we spread for lack of knowledge.
Bare with me on this one. I am not one to declare my opinion to be the truth. It is an opinion. Truth is truth, and we do not know the truth on this particular topic. The same can be said for those that believe in God and those that do not; the truth is the truth, everything right now is our opinion, a belief, we will know the truth and find our opinion to be right or wrong in the end, until then, we opinionate and postulate.
We are taught from a young age of the seven stages of grief. I have lost people close to me, and for the most part, those seven stages were relatively accurate, felt on a small scale. However, the loss of my father, my best friend, the only person in the world that genuinely got me, rang out a new truth for my life (or rather a new opinion or perspective). Seven stages of grief imply a relative completion, a chart to mark with a pin, so you know where you’re at right now. It gives you a false sense of hope. It implies we can manage it and get through it, see the grief to the end. Grief doesn’t end; it’s with us forever. We carry it, stuffing it in our bags to pull into the next relationship we form. Now again, bare with me on this, sure we feel denial, hope, anger, depression, etc.; of course, we do, but those are stages of which we graduate to the next, step by step. Every day, we fluctuate between them--as we do with every emotion, every day to day experience, every task. Today we wake up forgetting for half a moment that they’re gone, and we move on with our day shrugging it off as a new normal. Tomorrow, that brief moment of serenity that may wash over us as we check our phone and forget, there will be no texts from our loved ones, stolen with the reminder they’re gone we may experience depression or maybe anger, throwing the blank screen across the room. We may handle that anger with the hope of seeing them again or the hope that one day we can stop experiencing the highs of the emotions--but don’t we all want to stop experiencing the extremes for every situation? Don’t we all want to be level, balanced, recognizing feelings and continuing on without allowing them to infect everything?
That, my friends, is grief. Not stages, not steps, not a chart to watch. A hurricane, a spaghetti map that connects in an infinite loop. You don’t get over it; it gets over you.
We all know and understand the struggle of interpreters in Florida. There’s no minimum required standards, no licensure, and no RID or ANY certification required. Many propose we get the government involved to REQUIRE certification for interpreters if they want to work or at the very least licensure. While I am not opposed to any of this, I would like to take a moment to think it through. If we require certification for interpreters to work, how do New/Novice Interpreters get work? Internships especially paid ones, are beyond rare. I know very few interpreters who are ready to work full time interpreting, and I don’t know any who are qualified enough to pass their NIC Performance. So how then would Novice Interpreters get to be where they need to be? It leaves them in an endless cycle, ultimately resulting in them dropping out of the profession. If you can’t work without certification, but you can’t work to improve your skills to get certified, then you’re left with no options and ultimately leave the profession.
So the proposition I believe is satisfactory to this conundrum is that of paid internships. Post-graduation Novice Interpreters apply for paid internships (to provide them the ability to fully immerse into the field and community without the need for a second job that is irrelevant to their goals). They work solely with Expert Interpreters (NIC) until they are ready to take and pass their NIC; the first time. This leads us to another problem; that of the NIC pass rate. However, I will not be delving into this and will instead leave you with an article to process and decide for yourself.
Unfortunately, all too many of my fellow interpreters (myself included) have experienced first had and fostered the negativity that is associated in the inner workings of our beloved profession. The question is, why? Why do we foster this negativity? Why do we take part in this negativity? Why do we feel the need to be negative. Not only are we negative towards each other, but we are negative to ourselves. I have caught myself on more than one occasion being all too hard on myself for my skills or perceived lack thereof. I have also caught myself judging other’s for their skills or my perceived lack thereof. Who am I to judge? Who are YOU to judge?
More often than not we work alone. This leaves us at the mercy of our over grown shadowy jungles of minds partnered with the judgment of our clients that have no idea of the inner workings and responsibilities of an interpreter’s role. They have also solemnly been educated in their own native language. This is a travesty. It often leaves Novice Interpreters at the mercy of our profession to kill off their career dreams that they have worked so hard to achieve at such an early stage.
How to remedy this tragedy that is befalling our livelihood? I challenge every Expert Interpreter (the definition of Expert for the case of this Blog will be deemed “Interpreters that have been within the field consistently for 5 years and/or NIC) to take on a Mentee. In my personal experience since starting my interpreting endeavor have felt rather inadequate due to the lack of a Mentor. In my experience Expert Interpreters do not offer to help or mentor Novice Interpreters and the majority of Novice Interpreters (myself included) are too scared to ask. The question comes to mind as to whether or not I, the Novice Interpreter, is worthy to take the time away from these interpreting goddess extraordinaire.
So let us all take part in defeating the negativity of our profession with encouragement and working hand in hand by reaching out to those below and even above.
For those of us in the Sign Language Interpreting field, we can say that interpreting is indeed a woman’s world without a doubt (based on personal experience and actual data). According to a study conducted by Dennis Cokley, out of 160 candidates (Sign Language Interpreters), 132 were female, and 38 were male. This means that 17% of our field is male, and 83% is female. This statistic is alarming. We are considering the comparison that there are more Deaf Men than Deaf Women according to a study conducted by Gallaudet University. Taking these numbers a step further, ad looking further into the commonly exchanged notion that there are more gay male interpreters than straight male interpreters, a case study conducted indicates that based on the sample cell numbers there are 52.60% gay male interpreters and 47.40% straight male interpreters. This leaves us with a 5.2% difference, which in turn is rather large comparing it to the number of participants involved in the study and the actual number of interpreters in the profession.
With all of these statistics and numbers in mind, it is important to ask the question of "Why?"
Why are there more female interpreters than male interpreters? Comparing those numbers, why, after breaking it down further, are there more gay male interpreters than straight male interpreters? While these are hard to answer, it can be speculated that perhaps the Sign Language Interpreting Profession fits into the "Helper" category of professions that many men look down upon? If this is the case, why is it looked down upon? It requires a healthy and strong mind as well as a healthy and strong body. The work of an Interpreter is tedious, hard, and exhausting. Why would someone categorize it as a "Helper" profession? Why is the reaction of the majority of people that find out a person is an Interpreter "Oh! That is so nice of you to help them!"? Perhaps the answer to this mystery is that Interpreters are Communicators, and men do not value communication the same way that women value communication? If this is the reason, then this sexist mindset needs to change.
Perhaps money is a driving factor within this profession as to why men do not make Sign Language Interpreting their career. As those of us within the field know all too well, it is not a get-rich-quick profession. Many men, even in today's society, view themselves as the bread winners of the family. Sign Language Interpreting may not be considered the field to enter if you need to take care of your family and provide each of your children with all the opportunities money can buy. So it may not be a sexism problem, but possibly a matter of money. Many Sign Language Interpreters are not compensated for nearly what they are worth for the work that they do.
A possible factor could also simply be personality. Perhaps most men do not have the standard personality traits common within Sign Language Interpreters. This question was addressed in an international study conducted titled: Does Personality Matter?
Being a straight white female interpreter (I know, I'm nothing special in this field) it can be easy to keep in mind my areas of privilege within this profession and not take advantage of these privileges. But, I have found myself since deciding to embark on this journey to become an Interpreter noticing the severe lack of Straight White Male Interpreters. When I first started on this journey to make this my profession I was saddened at the realization of my odds of marrying a fellow Interpreter. The dream of marrying into my "dream team" was dead. I now am married (he's not an Interpreter) so these thoughts have left my mind. However, that being said, I cannot help but wonder about the other perspective. The perspective of our profession's isolated Straight While Male Interpreters. Straight White Male Interpreters are so few and far between in my experiences within the profession that meeting one comes as a bit of a shock. I often wonder if it feels strange being in his shoes. Is it odd to work with mostly women all day long? Do you feel privileged in that you are in high demand for those specific male Deaf clients (or maybe women) that prefer to have a fellow man with them to doctor's appointments and those that want their voice to match their gender? Do you feel superior or inferior to your colleagues? These are questions that I feel as though our profession must answer. These questions have potential to bring us as a profession to a better understanding. I have taken the liberty of interviewing a few Straight White Male Interpreters to ask them about their personal experiences and opinions on being the minority in a world where they are typically the majority. Justine Rice and Gary Kelly have given up their valuable time to answer some of these questions as best they could. To hear these interviews and opinions feel free to click on their names and listen to what they have to say.
Referencing the case study from the previous page once again it is also important to be reminded of the statistic of gay to straight male interpreters. 52.60% of the males within the profession are gay, and 47.40% of the males within the profession are straight
An article from Street Leverage written by and about a woman named Sherry Smith discusses multiple different aspects of being an Interpreter of Color that many of us do not think about often. Interpreters of Color have many obstacles to face within their personal life as well as their professional life. Unfortunately we still live in a world where people judge you based on the color of your skin. This can interfere with hiring the right candidate for the job and even who you decide to become friends with. In her article Sherry not only discusses her struggles growing up as a person of color but also struggle she has endured in her career. Not all of these struggles are related to her skin however. Many of which were related to religion and socioeconomic aspects of her life. I personally would have never thought that religion or personal choices about lifestyle would interfere with my career. Sherry keenly points out that there are many different kinds of struggles one can endure and not all of which are about the color of your skin as many would believe.
Each person brings their own struggles, schemas, and experiences to the table in an interpreting assignment. It is important to be cautious and aware of your and your clients in order to avoid any hurt feelings because of misjudgment. A common textbook requirement in Interpreter Training Programs is "Reading Between the Signs. Intercultural Communication for Sign Language Interpreters". This book breaks down various ways that Interpreters must use cultural meditation within their assignments and even helps to assess one's own schemas and biases to allow you to put them to the side and ensure there is no interference during the interpretation.
Interpreters tend to be trained on managing cultural differences or in the very least cultural awareness. But, our average clients are not educated in cultural awareness which can often lead to problems within the assignment. Although we as Interpreters have grown our profession and evolved through many models of interpreting it is hard to capture what the interpretation will look like no matter how hard you research and prepare for any given assignment. We all know and are all too aware that the Interpreter is there. S/he is deeply involved in the communication between those present for the given assignment and it is difficult to stop our schema from interfering. This includes personal prejudices, racism, sexism, cultural bias, and simple personal preference.
Michon Shaw has been generous enough to donate her time in order to provide some personal insight as to her experiences as an Interpreter of Color.
For more information of Interpreters and Transliterators of Color feel free to visit the following websites:
rid itoc info