from September 19, 2009
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Some references in these pieces are a year out of date and may jar the ear of one who reads now. Yet too much is the same. Some things are better. Some may improve. Some may be brutally blocked. How much does this matter to us? It matters enormously to me. (from "My Father's Daughter" posted yesterday).
Sometimes disappointment strikes so deeply that words vanish. Wednesday morning all my words vanished. When I learned that Baucus’ bill had been released, I did something I have never done before. I opened the document to have a look. I wanted to see for myself. I began with every word. Then I skimmed. Then I scanned. I saw nothing that made my heart sing.
I saw not enough of anything that mattered. I did momentarily see the magic words for me making it illegal for insurers to exclude those of us with pre-existing conditions from coverage we so need, but I didn’t see the terms I expected. This is the one piece that I thought most seem to agree with. Why can’t that just happen today by unanimous consent?
If insurers agree, why can’t they enact it themselves today and make it effective immediately? Why won’t they just step forward for what is right and make it happen and be real today rather than wait until whatever goodwill exists for it now begins to evaporate as time passes and waits for the precise wording to be exactly right. Exactly right for whom? Patients or stockholders?
In Baucus’ bill he writes that within a year of the bill’s enactment, people who have been excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions can apply to a high risk pool after having been without coverage for six months. Six months? High risk pool? If change is what we seek, why require people to be without any insurance for six months? Why must they still be singled out? I thought covering all balances the costs for those with pre-existing conditions? What happens after 2013? What happens until 2013?
I so wanted to believe. I so wanted to hope. I still do. I still want to believe that Lancelot will come riding in at the last minute and give us all what we really need. I still want to believe that Obama will find a way to ride that charger into town and deliver what was promised. Why so hard to believe and hope and so easy to watch once more as the grains of sand seem to be done falling through the hour glass?
I feel tired and I feel flat. This time it is not the other party as much as my own. I have no words at all for those in the other party who only want to oppose and obstruct and defeat this president any way they can. He, at least, has the courage to speak the words our souls need to hear. His words generally lift me up. Not always but more often than not.
I keep hearing Keith Olbermann list members of both parties who have taken money from companies and/or lobbyists who like health care exactly as they have created it to be: adequate for a few, costly for many and non-existent for all the rest. If these members confront or oppose or, God forbid, demand change to help the human lives they represent, they may lose money to keep their seats. How sad. Perhaps we should line them up and let them go. Do we need people representing us who live and work more in fear of political survival than anything else?
I watch while no one seems to have the courage to tackle this issue head on. Kennedy tried until his own health stepped in and freed him from the fight he had fought for so long. Yet he had stoked the flames of our imaginations and hopes and dreams and then he handed the flame to Obama hoping that he would find a way to make health care reform real and strong. I want to believe but where are the voices who offer support and fight with him?
Thursday for the first time I heard Nancy Pelosi* speak from her heart about the responsibility that must be taken for words, needlessly incendiary words spoken to inflame and distract in order to obstruct and defeat with no thought to the reactions they might provoke. She had seen the consequences of such words herself and clearly the memory still lives within her.
Always she seems to be playing a role, but not yesterday. Yesterday we saw her heart. We need hearts to beat and feel their own rhythms in order to remember their own honest truths. Patients and families of patients speak from their hearts as they provide examples of health care gone wrong or not provided. Why are so many refusing to hear heart and honesty and truth? Why are they refusing to speak heart and honesty and truth?
They can speak some of the right words. They sometimes look as though they care about the people, the actual constituents they are elected to represent. In reality, however, they look and listen far more closely to those who control the money that has either helped them get their seats or hold their seats or promise to help them keep their seats as long as they can. Too many of those people see health care as a profit making machine. As a result too many of those who represent us feel they can’t afford to see it as anything else.
Strength and conviction? Courage and backbone? Commitment and compassion? Where are they? Who even remembers what they are? They don’t appear on a balance sheet. They don’t seem to register anywhere these days. Power matters. Money matters. Power and money matter most of all.
Not to me.
Love matters. Hope matters. Faith matters. Compassion matters. People and happiness and health matter. Heart and honesty and truth matter. How do I vote for them next time? Last November I voted for Obama and thought I voted for all that mattered to me.
What stands before us now concerns every single one of us in the most personal and profound way. It concerns the way we live and most likely it concerns the way we die. If we have no coverage and can afford no care, how will we live and how will we die and who will care? Those who vote against reform and against the public option can’t allow themselves to care or it might hit too close to home and become real. It is already real for me and for how many others? How do we all really want to live? How do we all really want to die?
What is it that we really do want? Why isn’t it already as clear as can be? How long will people scream out for what will help no one? What about those of us who understand all that is at stake and can not be heard because it might cost too much? Social justice? We can’t address it because it might cost us all too much? Have we all lost our minds? We certainly seem to have lost our hearts.
Love, charity, compassion, caring for each other and reaching out to each other are the parts of our lives that matter most. Why can we not mirror that in our health care program today with no hesitation? Why would anyone stand in the way of legislation intended to make us more whole and to give us some sense of peace?
I want to be whole and I want to know peace. Is there anyone who does not? Why are so many missing or ignoring or denying what is most required by all of us? We all need protection from illness. I hear Andrew Weill* and some of this we can work towards on our own. But what about the rest? Why is it so hard to allow all of us to have what clearly we all need? How can money and income stand in the way of the essentials of human life?
A few days ago I looked at Baucus’ bill and the world went flat. Thursday I heard Nancy Pelosi release the everyday mask and speak from her heart and my heart woke up in response. Yesterday morning I read Paul Krugman’s piece* in the New York Times and the first few notes of the rhythm of life began to play in my ear. Today I read Bill Maher* and my soul heard honesty. Tomorrow is too far away. Stop now. Let nonsense noise disappear. Listen for the beat of our own hearts, our own honesty, our own truths. Then tomorrow begins today and solutions to help the individual rather than the corporation will become clear and hope, once more, can fill our spirits and lead us home.
* I wish I had held on to direct references for these. I did not but if you know their voices, you will be able to hear the melodies.