`j(Chewy Is Helping Write Today)

This blog might take a while to write, Chewy is next to me on the couch helping with keystrokes. He’s sincere, but clumsy with the paws. Such is life.

Current events.  I’ve hesitated to dive in here because most people come unhinged when I mention my beliefs. Fine. Instead I’ll give you a “Joe update” and work in the world around us. 

I have mentioned for years that among my many defects you can count my hearing. I’m not bitching, but the Navy was really hard on my ears. As it was for many of my fellow sailors. But Cryptologic Technicians really had it bad with what we did: headphones on almost all the time at sea. Now, other rates (jobs for civilians) had the same kind of hearing loss. All of it is tragic. But I can attest that almost all of my contemporaries are messed up in that way. Tinnitus and deafness are our lot.

The V.A. has finally recognized that our exposure to rooms full of printers, speakers, and high volume air handling units has created problems. They don’t even fight the claims anymore. But you do have to keep going back as your hearing declines to get your disability rating changed. 

About a year ago I got my hearing checked right before we all went in the sewer of lockdown. I was officially as deaf as the honcho’s required before they added an additional percentage to my disability. It also meant new hearing aids.

With the lockdown, and the VA and everyone else being closed for months, I waited an extremely long time to get my new equipment. I finally got it in November – about 9 months after the exam.

The new hearing aids are amazing. Computer driven, I can control them from my phone. They are bluetooth enabled, and the sound quality is top-notch. In addition, they specifically fill in the frequencies where I have the most loss.

Sadly, I use my hearing aids at work to interface with my phone. The problem was that the boat-anchor I called my desktop didn’t work with the hearing aids. My boss is a prince of a fellow, and he and I worked together to make it happen. Let’s just say that for a technology company, our tech support on the issue was rotten. They fixated on hearing aid, versus bluetooth. Dear God, what a bunch of dips. 

Any rate, we finally got past all the small minds in our way and I got a new computer just before Christmas. It works with my new gear. 

I no longer have to struggle to hear what the caller is saying. In addition, I now wear the hearing aids every day. I hadn’t the heart to switch over from the old ones until I could wear the new ones all the time. Why?  I’ll tell you.

It is jarring, disconcerting, upsetting, and troublesome to change what you hear. Right now you think you hear what’s around you. But I can promise you that you are missing a lot of things. The difference between what is in the world around you, and what you hear is huge. 

This is true of your view of the current events in the world. Part of it is that you’re comfortable listening to the sounds inside your own head. Or the station on the radio that you prefer. Or the cable news channel that meets your approval. And, just like it is when you have hearing aids, you’re only hearing what’s programmed to pass the filter. You can hear other things, but you have to seek them out and turn up the volume. 

You grow accustomed to a certain level of noise and sound patterns that please you. I didn’t realize the floors in my house squeak like they do. I also didn’t know that certain things I do each day are quite noisy. I never heard them until the new hearing aids. 

I have to turn them down when I put them on. The world is just too loud after years of it going quiet decibel by decibel. That applies to most people’s knowledge of current events as well. You just turn away when it is jarring. 

Me?  I love the new sounds. I turn the volume down or I become a monster. Sensory overload from too many new inputs. But I don’t turn them off. I just avoid getting overstimulated. The first week I wore them full time, I was nuts. Truly on edge and didn’t realize it. But once I figured out why I was so jumpy and anxious, I learned to deal with it. 

I miss hearing without the things. When I take them off at night, it’s like flicking a switch. The ceiling fan vanishes, the street noise is gone, Chewy thumping his tail is just something I see, not hear. It makes it easy to sleep.

Many of you have taken out your hearing aids and are going to sleep. You never hear what is going on around you politically. You only listen to what the programmers allow you to hear on your devices. That has to end.

I am a conservative patriot. Yet I listen to the opposition and actually hear what they are saying. It is frightening. Never in my life have I wished to silence even the most odious speech. I listen to communists, Nazis, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, Catholic, agnostic, you name it. I can converse intelligently on those topics. 

But the last year the people I used to be able to talk to just try to shout me down when I discuss the world around us. They wish to make me quiet so that they don’t hear me. They never seem to consider hearing what I have to say and just writing me off as a nut. Nope, it’s time to shout your “enemy” down. 

I don’t care what your position is, but I am asking you to do this: put on your new hearing aids and listen to what is being said all around you. I hope you find the floor is squeaky. I hope you find a new melody in another way of thinking. 

Most of all, I hope you resist the urge to silence others. Or to vindictively deny them a job, or a bank account, or a voice on social media. None of those things is very American. Yet they are happening now. 

If your response is that “you guys did it too” I’m disappointed. No, actually not. It was not a platform point for “my side” at any point in the last 224 years. I follow the constitution. I love that document. Swore to protect it. Will continue to do so. Also, and this is a good point to make right here, how long do you go on killing the children of your enemies for something that happened prior to their birth? Moving forward involves discussion. There is a sad lack of that in our country right now. 

This week will be intense. And every time you hear someone call for silencing, punishing, locking out those they have taken power from, I hope you cringe. You see, that will be you next time the wheel turns. 

The wheel always turns. I don’t hope to hurt you, or take your power to speak. I hope you join me in this.

Finally, if you go back over all the things I’ve written in the last decade, I suspect you’ll find this is a consistent viewpoint. I have never advocated putting opponents in jail for a bad point of view. I will continue to hope that is your outlook as well.

Freedom isn’t free. I wear hearing aids as part of my dues to that concept. I am okay with rotten hearing. But if you shut your ears voluntarily, my sacrifice is for naught.

 

 

 

Joseph Courtemanche

About Joseph Courtemanche

I'm a conservative Christian author who's been happily married for over 30 years. I am a Veteran of the United States Navy, Naval Security Group. I speak a few languages, I have an absurd sense of humor and I'm proud to be an American.

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