Trying to sort out the political and civic events over the past month or so has given me a headache (how about you?)! But I can’t turn away from what is happening – the stakes are way too high to just sit back and act like nothing is going on. We have reached a time when corporate greed is unprecedented, and the plight of ordinary people in the USA gets worse by the day. Finally, though, we see a glimpse of possibility that some folks are waking up from the corporate drugs we have been fed for far too long.
But a story that a friend told me recently turned my attention to wondering how on earth we can reach folks who seem to be in a perpetual stage of adolescence – simple rebellion against the [government] parent. My friend, who recently went through a horrendous treatment for a very aggressive cancer, just at a time when she lost her job and subsequently her medical insurance coverage, asked a woman protesting against health care reform: “What exactly are you against — any and all public health care programs?” The woman at least engaged enough to hear my friend’s story, and then brushed her off saying. Here is my friend’s account:
She said: “Well, you can’t expect the government to solve all of your problems!” I said “OK, I agree completely!! I do not consider myself to be a Socialist, I’ve worked all my life and will continue to work, and believe in the free-enterprise model. But the situation is impossible. Please, tell me, right now, How would I obtain private insurance?? NO ONE WOULD INSURE ME. I”M SICK AND NOW HAVE A “PRIOR CONDITION” and I”M NOT IN AN EMPLOYEE GROUP PLAN. WHAT ARE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE LIKE ME SUPPOSED TO DO?????”” The demonstrator simply stuck her nose in the air and turned away. Clearly, I was just an ant at her Picnic.
The image of a grown woman walking away in this kind of situation brings up images, for me, of the kid who simply has to rebel against every kind of authority. Perhaps this rebellion will teach us all important lessons, but I am hopeful that voices of reason, and human compassion for those most in need, will prevail in the end.
I once heard someone say that the role of government is to do for the people what they cannot do for themselves. Ironically, this is almost precisely how a great nurse leader in the mid-20th century, Virginia Henderson, defined nursing! Certainly nursing and the government are two very different things, but when you think about it, we do share this central purpose that is not common to all social “entities.” In the end, we all face the reality that while there are some things we are each responsible for, none of us can go it alone … and we need not only the government, but one another in the equation. And, to those who have corporate connections, it is time to call on you as individuals to begin pushing and leading your corporations away from greed that saps the life-blood from the people.