Helen Keller is the epitome of how a person can make the impossible possible and inspire generations to look up to her as a role model.
She was the first deaf-blind person to get a Bachelor’s degree in Arts. She donned many hats – American author, political activist, and lecturer. As she was born on June 27 in 1880, the US State of Pennsylvania commemorates her birthday as Helen Keller Day.
Helen was born healthy but lost her eyesight and hearing ability due to an illness. It was her teacher, Anne Sullivan, who changed Helen’s life by breaking the barriers the lack of language had imposed on her. The story has also been captured in the movie The Miracle Worker.
Once Helen learned the fingertip alphabet, there was no turning back. She was gifted and by the age of 10 she mastered Braille and the alphabet and learnt to even write and use a typewriter. At the age of 16 she made it to school and in 1904 she graduated from Radcliffe College, creating history as the first deaf-blind person to do so.
Empowered by the written word Helen went on to dedicate her life to changing the conditions of people who were visually challenged and had hearing impairment. She became the face of those who could not see or hear. She became a lecturer, a political activist and an author. Her works include several articles and 12 published books such as The Story of My Life (1903), The World I Live In (1908).
She joined the Social Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World. She campaigned for women’s suffrage, labour rights, socialism and other such causes.
Today, as we celebrate the inspiration and the hope that she brought to millions by her own example, we look at some of her quotes that have continued to inspire people for centuries.
On positivity, hope and overcoming challenges
“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.”
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”
“The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.”
Feel what you do
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”
“Once I knew only darkness and stillness… my life was without past or future… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.”
“True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”
Learning and education
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
“The highest result of education is tolerance.”
On Helen Keller Day, one of the biggest learnings is to move away from the darkness of pessimism, ignorance, and fear into the light of optimism, knowledge and courage.