Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 18

I'm participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge. Today’s topic: Open a book. Open a book to a random page and write about a phrase.

On my iPad I've been reading Candide by Voltaire. I read it years ago and decided to pick it back up. It's still just as outrageous and funny as I remembered. I found this phrase:

“Do you believe,” said Candide, “that men have always massacred each other as they do to-day, that they have always been liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools?”
“Do you believe,” said Martin, “that hawks have always eaten pigeons when they have found them?”
“Yes, without doubt,” said Candide.
“Well, then,” said Martin, “if hawks have always had the same character why should you imagine that men may have changed theirs?”

This caught my attention. Maybe it's because it is an election year in my country. Every four years we go through the same ritual of selecting a president. Much hot air is spewed and much more hyperbole. The media separates our country by region, and then by state. Then we are separated by gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Each social grouping is expected to vote a certain way. The white male blue collar vote. The black vote. The Hispanic vote. The soccer mom vote. The pet goldfish owning, Suv driving, Diet Coke drinking vote. If this deliberate division happened for any other reason we would all stand up and cry foul. Why do we allow this to happen every election cycle?

Our national motto is E pluribus unum: Out of many one. But when has the USA been united about anything? I watch the pre-election spin whirling and laugh at it. If Candidate A is elected happy times will return. If Candidate B is elected, we're all doomed and our country will fail. Or maybe it is the other way around?

They all promise to transform our country into a place it's never been. Just like in Candide. Hawks have always eaten pigeons. Americans have always been divided. Our healthcare debate was loud and divided. Sometimes I just wish the rhetoric and yelling would stop so we could just talk to each other. There has to be some common ground to stand on.

I wish no one would have to decide between medication and food. Can we begin there? There has to be a way to make sure everyone gets the help they need and can still afford groceries when they are done. But that's how it is in the divided states of America. We're the land of yelling and screaming and no common ground. Will we get a health care system that actually functions? One that allows everyone to get the care they need and none of us go broke trying to survive? Will that happen? I don't know. Maybe it will happen when hawks stop eating pigeons.

Or maybe I need to put on my optimist hat and think forward.

I tend to be a forward thinker. How things are is not always a reflection of how things have to stay. Change is slow in the USA, but it does happen. Slavery ended. Women got the right to vote. The civil rights movement ushered in a new era. Maybe one day we'll stop being so divided and recognize that if our neighbor is sick helping pay for their medical care is the right thing to do. Maybe some day we will figure out how to make this work so everyone gets the help they need. Will this happen some day? I hope so. I really hope so.

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