We are poisoning ourselves, and we have been for as long as I can remember. It’s slow, so slow we don’t really notice until someone points out how ugly and selfish the the toxin has made us, how it’s seeped into our minds and souls, claiming our compassion and empathy, our humanity.
I’m not talking about Flint’s water crisis or any of the thousands of other places in the USA with lead levels as high or higher than those in Flint, Michigan. Their water, and that of the thousands of other locales, are a sign of the poisoning, though. The rest of us take safe water for granted. Our children aren’t suffering health issues and learning disabilities due to lead poisoning. It’s not in our thoughts every moment of the day because we don’t have to plan ahead for every meal, every drink, every bath, for ourselves and for our families. We take it for granted that the money we pay in to the E.P.A. pool means we get safe water available in our homes all the time at a reasonable cost.
And we assume that our contribution to that pool for safe water and air and soil means we won’t become sick from our water, air, soil, or the food we pick from the garden. We all pay in to our Federal and local Environmental Protection Agencies, and we assume that the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) covers everyone. Judging by how many Americans don’t have safe drinking water, I’d say we’d be wrong to assume the SDWA covers us all.
Why isn’t this all over the news? Safe drinking water is a basic necessity. This should be a huge, stop-the-presses kind of deal in a country that considers itself to be “highly developed.” We should be freaking the fuck out until it’s fixed and everyone has safe water again.
I wonder why we consider ourselves to be “highly-developed” because the more I learn about the rest of the world, the less inclined I am to buy that line to describe us.
It turns out the United States of America is the only “very highly developed country” that doesn’t have universal healthcare out of more than 50 nations, too. Affordable/available health care is a basic necessity all over the world, but not in the United States. I had no idea until just a couple of years ago. It’s perfectly normal to me that I don’t get to go to the doctor or dentist very often and that many people don’t get to. It’s common in the United States for people to have conditions and/or illnesses that go untreated because medical care and medication is a luxury many Americans simply cannot afford for themselves or for their families.
As an American, I have difficulty wrapping my head around the options other people have in the world. Other people assume they’ll just do whatever – call the doctor or dentist, be seen, have the surgery or get and fill a prescription – get care. That’s not obvious in the USA. Not even close. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was just a given that we all have health care?
How quickly would we adjust to being able to get a tooth pulled or have our insulin or asthma medicine? Imagine not worrying all the time that a child will get sick or break a bone. Take a moment to revel in that beautiful fantasy. Other people live it. All the time. They don’t make any more money than we do. They don’t work any harder than we do. They’re no more deserving. They just live in a country other than the United States of America, a country where the people have made up their minds to take care of each other.
Eleven-year-old Nemiah Martinez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, found out that her mother needs to have a kidney and pancreas transplant. That’s a pretty huge deal. Nemiah decided to sell lemonade to help raise money for her mom’s costs. She’s raised more than $1000, so far. I don’t know if Nehmiah’s mom has insurance to help pay these costs, but the first year costs on a kidney transplant alone run $262,000. Her medications will run about $3000 per month. That is, until the CEO at the pharmaceutical company gets greedy and raises the prices.
A woman – we’ll call her Victoria – gets a cancer diagnosis. Her spouse pays about $240/month for insurance. Victoria now has to pay more than $1978 per month for the same coverage. They’ve had to take out a loan to cover costs of the insurance premium, co-pays, and prescriptions. Chat about her tweet goes in many directions, but a few immediately instruct her to call Medicare and they’ll fix her up right then. It’s terrible (and wrong) advice. No doubt they have their hearts in the right place, but they’re not helping. They’re just talking to talk. A few confused and/or misinformed people take it further, yapping at length about their personal issues, their previous jobs, their Medicare experiences, their Social Security disability issues, which devolves into a nasty and unhelpful bunch of comments about how some people on Social Security are lazy. They aren’t lazy, of course, but other Americans are lazy and undeserving, and they can say that because they’re on disability, too.
And we wonder why bullying is a problem in our schools.
More bullies. More nasty attitudes, but this one made me stop and take a step back. That it’s “alright” in America to say such a demeaning thing anywhere, not even aimed at someone in particular, but a nasty, humiliating statement by some pathetic human who just likes the sound of their own voice (yes, it was on Twitter, but you know what I mean – they are all around, yapping just to yap, lonely perhaps, and they interject gossip and petty comments into serious conversations), especially here where a fellow American was going through new hardship, made me queasy. This petty person argued to me that I was a bully for asking them to skip their attempts to belittle their fellow disabled citizens. Then Victoria stood with the bullies who are judging her fellow Americans who all paid in so that Social Security would be available to them when the time came. Victoria told me I’m the asshole. Sometimes I am, of course (aren’t we all? kind of the point of this post. . . learning to recognize and avoid swallowing more of the toxin), but not this time. This time I was standing against bullies, against the assholes. She chose to stand with them.
How many of those Judgy McJudgersons think Victoria is lazy, too? Perhaps she should think about that as she defends their pettiness. I’m not saying Victoria should stand against bullies because they might bully her, too. I’m suggesting we stand against them because it’s the right thing to do.
Her reasons are her own. shrug
She’s happy to partake of the poison, too. She took another swig right there in that moment, and all I could do was watch and tell her it’s fine with me if she stands with the bullies, pretends I’m a bad guy. I choose not to stand with them as they pass out more poison and humiliation in a vain attempt to feel less deplorable. Or unworthy. Or whatever reason it is Victoria and the others happily choose to do this to each other.
The whole incident brought to mind people who assault or scream at those who park in spots for the disabled because the nosy person can’t see the disability. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there, and besides, it’s nobody else’s business what this person’s disability is or what they have to contend with. It’s not for us to get in their business and explain themselves to us. It’s between them and their doctors.
And we wonder why people hate Americans. I’m an American, and I – “hate” is a strong word, too strong – I strongly dislike us much of the time. We aren’t likeable. The poison has left behind selfish, apathetic people with strange ideas of what is important. And what isn’t.
Our lawmakers like to use the word “entitlement” especially when they want to cut a program people count on to survive, but they’re often intentionally confusing one meaning for another. Regardless, we ALL pay in to all of the programs – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, Unemployment Insurance, etc. – with the expectation that they will be there when and if we need them. We actually are entitled to them.
All workers pay in to Social Security. All of us. The plan is for it to be there when we need it for retirement or if we find ourselves unable to work due to disability. It’s also there for if we die while our minor children are still at home. It helps to provide for our children if we die young. We pay into Medicare so we’ll have health insurance coverage if we reach age 65. We might even qualify earlier we find ourselves permanently disabled (it can be available after two years).
The GOP isn’t the only vendor of nonsense and greed. Still, they managed to capitalize on Reagan’s dishonest and deplorable “welfare queen” story which has been passed all around since he first uttered the lie, using it to convince some Americans – a minority to be sure, but still – that the tax scam Congress passed last December was a good idea. People continue to fall for the “trickle-down economics” scam. They’re only just now seeing how our government twists the meaning of “entitlement” so they can get us to agree that only lazy people apply for these benefits, so if only lazy/worthless people use them we don’t need them. . . right? Consequently, people go hungry or go without. Even though when they were working they were paying into this program so it’d be there if they need it, they feel bad about using it. I paid in so that it’ll be there for me, but ALSO so it’ll be there for you. That’s the whole point of it.
So why are people on social media calling people who need these programs, programs that are supposed to be there for them if they need them, lazy? Why is that okay in our society?
I’m serious. Why? Step back and think about the words and the sentiment. Why is that okay?
On the one hand, any American will tell you that we all need a little help sometimes. On the other hand, we’re raised to value “independence” even though NONE of us are independent, and we’re raised to believe that asking for or receiving help, even if we paid in to it just like everyone else so it’d be there in our time of need, asking for or receiving help means we’re weak, lazy, and a failure.
Can you see what is wrong with this picture? Can you see how we keep the poison spreading throughout our society?
Here’s a woman on Twitter trying to get people to look at her gofundme and contribute for her little daughter who had to have open heart surgery. It’s terrible, and it’s sad that it comes to this. What’s worse? For each of these who take out loans to pay medical bills, who risk losing their homes or who risk bankruptcy, who do a gofundme, how many just don’t get care because they know they can’t afford it? If it were me, I couldn’t. I simply don’t have that option. Many of us don’t. That’s just the way it is.
You might have noticed that I am coming around to thinking maybe that’s not the way it should be.
And, just to twist the knife another quarter turn, how many of us rarely even look at those gofundme posts now, partly because they are so numerous, but also partly because we know that some of them are scams? That shouldn’t even be a thing, but it is. People use sick children to scam others because they can, because not having insurance/health care is a thing here.
In any other country in the world these attitudes and these health and well-being concerns among citizens of a “highly-advanced” country would be huge. They wouldn’t stand for this. Why do we?
Let’s add in the cognitive dissonance of the religious of this country, especially the Christians, as they vote for the party of hate, greed, and abuse of “other” people. Their Christ tells them to love their neighbors as themselves. He tells them nobody is a stranger, to treat everyone as an honored guest, to give and to share unselfishly. Their Christ says not to lie or cheat or take from anyone else but instead to give. That is precisely the opposite of what the GOP stands for yet the vast majority of them are “Christians” (because, let’s face it, the GOP is horrible to non-Christians so they’ll not attract any other faiths) or anyway, they claim to be Christians? (note to self and to reader, spend some time trying to understand the concept “elective affinity,” somehow reconciling religion with free market economy, to see if that is part of this. . . problem)
(And for the purposes of this post, let’s forget that the Bible is an awful book written by awful, controlling men that instructs people to beat/rape their wives, torture/kill their children, keep slaves, etc. I’m focusing on what the Christian people claim to believe based on those early books in the New Testament. I don’t want to debate religion. I’m over it. You go on talking to/believing in your invisible, imaginary friend, if you like. Try to understand the one narrow point I’m trying to make here about the hypocrisy.)
This wrong, toxic, poisonous attitude that some people who paid in to the American system are less deserving than others who paid in to the same system is bad. And it must stop.
This is America. We could choose to fix this. I’m not even talking about Medicaid or Social Security or Medicare or “food stamps” or any other government programs. Those are a whole separate thing, and they need to be fixed, yet our government representatives are looting our treasury and taking it for themselves on their way out. That’s a separate post, and it needs attention, too, but as long as we think nobody else is deserving we won’t get far on those projects. I’m talking about the attitude we Americans have where we let them, the government, bullies, whoever, take. . . especially if it is not from us, specifically. I’m talking about the attitude where we think it’s perfectly fine to be awful to other people (or we let other people be awful to other people) we know nothing about because we think it’s okay to think – or say out loud – we’re better/more deserving/right.
It’s wrong. We’re wrong. And we should be ashamed. Other countries recognize that to take care of each other is to take care of ourselves and to free ourselves and each other to do more, to be more.
Yesterday, on the same day Melania (a bully, you’ll recall she’s a birther, too) announced her “Be Best” initiative (Be Better 2.0?) to “teach our children the difference between right and wrong” her husband’s administration (filled with bullies and run by a bully) said it will separate children from their parents at the border AND will seek deep cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Mix messages much? That was just one day.
(tangent: wasn’t a big thing at concentration camps that children were separated from their parents?)
The poison coursing through our bodies, starting from a young age, seems to make us oblivious to pain in others. This pride in selfishness, it blinds us to the serious problems this country faces, as groups and as individuals struggling to find a place to live, to eat, to survive. We say we’re proud, but what have we to be proud of? What have we done that we can point to? Is it the poison talking?
Only in America will you find a large group of old, white men on government health insurance with government pensions and easy access to safe water in the Rose Garden laughing and drinking shitty beer and celebrating their efforts to strip millions of Americans of affordable health care options. And only in America will you find people speaking out in social media about how those guys and they, themselves, deserve to receive what they paid for, but the rest of us, we’re lazy. We shouldn’t get what we paid for.
The rest of the world looks on as we chug our poison and act like we’re better than they are when they take care of their people. We brag about the toxic environment, “Land of the Free” or somesuch, we live in as we literally remove protections to the environment, opening the door for the “Haves” to pollute our water, air, land for personal profit. Our word is worthless. We’re bad neighbors, and we’re too stupid and selfish and toxic to know to be ashamed, to try to be better.
Choose now. Put down the poison. Stop bad-mouthing others. Don’t just change your speech, change your thoughts. Catch those thoughts before they become words. Change them. Picture yourself throwing the poison away. Forever. Let love in. Get over your entitlement, especially to your opinion as if it’s the only one anyone should care about. That’s the poison talking.
Why is this okay?:
Link: “I’m done trying to understand Trump supporters. Why don’t they try to understand me?” – by Leonard Pitts Jr. at Miami Herald (opinion)
Link: “More than 30,000 nursing home eviction notices to be sent in Louisiana Thursday” – Greg Hilburn of The (Monroe, La.) News-Star via USA Today
Link: “A Generation of Wisconsin Children Could Go Hungry Under GOP Farm Bill” – Milwaukee Independent (this affects as many as 40 million poor Americans, mostly children, and includes the high probability that they’ll lose their free or reduced school lunches, too. Some children only get to eat if they’re at school.)
Link: “Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror” – by Masha Gessen at The New Yorker (edited to include this link 11 May 2018)
This meme made me think. “Make America kind again?” When were we kind?
(As usual, thanks for reading my post. Comments are open. *hugs*)