Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Good Die Young

There are so many things that suck about getting divorced that it's hard to start a post with "One of the worst things about getting divorced is..." Still, some things qualify as really bad. Like when you like your ex's friends or family, and you suddenly don't see or talk to them anymore. It's not like you stop caring about them. You do, but you can't just call somebody up and be all, "hey, remember when we used to be related? Fun!"

My former brother-in-law died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 50 years old and leaves behind a wife and two young children, along with his mother and three siblings, including my ex-husband. I am finding it hard to put into words how sad this makes me feel.

I hadn't spoken to him in about four years, around the time that my marriage was disintegrating. I met F and his wife when I was 23 and they were in their late thirties. At the time, I thought I was so old and mature. Now I realize that I didn't know jack shit, but the family was never condescending and they welcomed me and hung around with my just-graduated-from-college friends and invited me to lots of things at their house. It was my first foray into the world of the suburban family with kids (other than my family of origin) and good practice -- I had fun helping with puppet and magic shows for the kids, hanging out in the backyard barbequing and playing volleyball. F was pretty hilarious and had a wicked sense of humor, and he and my ex played off each other really well. His whole family adored him -- sometimes jealous, sometimes irritated, but they knew he was a good guy. Even though things eventually went to hell, I give F and his wife lots of props for at least trying to understand, or at least ask me questions about how bad things were for me back then. There is a lot more I can say about him, but I know that this information is semi-public and it's not my story to tell -- it just seems unfair to lose someone who battled through so much shit and so many other terrible things throughout the course of his life.

I was there when their father died. I was there when F had a relapse of cancer. I was there when F and his wife adopted their second child. I think the last time I saw him was at his daughter's Communion. I'm not there now, nor would it be appropriate for me to be. But I am thinking of the family and those kids and just wishing, vibing, whatever, HOPING that they have the strength to make it through this.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Because You Care What I Think About Healthcare

So the bill is signed, and Armageddon has not yet arrived. I straddle two very, very different worlds in that I have worked for big, white corporations for over a decade now with lots of big-business types, but I live in The People's Republic of Cambridge and seem to be the centrist one among my hippie, trippy, lefty pinko friends. When that gavel hit, Facebook exploded and depending on what friend was posting, I could assume that either Fidel Castro was going to become the next President or all the world's ills would soon be solved by the new Virgin Mother, Nancy Pelosi.

So I give my friend, Steve, credit for posting the following:
"Raise your hand if you fully understand the supposedly "historic" health care bill and the ramifications it's going to have on our country. Putting Facebook, Twitter, New York Times, Wall Street Journal editorial/opinion pieces aside--and even your own political opinions/agendas--do you truly understand? If I only had a dollar for everyone who could explain the overhaul in 100 words or less."

The posts that followed were actually civil, and wide-ranging. Imagine that. I checked out the various "What Healthcare Reform Means For You" graphics on the New York Times and Washington Post, but I suspect that my feelings about this bill being passed would not be that different even if those graphics told me, "hey, take a good look, whitey, you're going to have to pay a shit ton more taxes now."

Do I want to pay more taxes? No. Do I believe in big government? No. Am I happy about all the back-door deals and strong arming that went on to pass this? No. Do I think that the bill is seriously flawed? Yes.

Still, I am extremely happy that it passed. To me, this is a moral issue more than anything else. How can the richest country in the world justify not taking care of its sick? How can we seriously believe that if you lose your job and get sick that you somehow deserve to bankrupt yourself and your family to get better? It doesn't jive with all those American values that we think are cheesy when used in statements about VALUES but secretly believe strongly in. It doesn't work. You take care of the sick. That's...just what you do. Right?

I could make more arguments about how we'll save money in the long run (preventative care, blah blah), but I really don't give a shit about those arguments. You take care of sick people because it's the right thing to do. It's not socialism.

The church I go to had a lot of good stuff to say about healthcare, and through them I found Faithful Reform. I really liked what their vision statement (bolds are mine). The language is a bit 'o divine merciful blessings on this beautiful godly day' for my tastes, but the message resonated strongly.

Vision ~ Inclusive: Health care is a shared responsibility that is grounded in our common humanity. In the bonds of our human family, we are created to be equal. We are guided by a divine will to treat each person with dignity and to live together as an inclusive community. Affirming our commitment to the common good, we acknowledge our enduring responsibility to care for one another. As we recognize that society is whole only when we care for the most vulnerable among us, we are led to discern the human right to health care and wholeness. Therefore, we are called to act with compassion by sharing our abundant health care resources with everyone.

Vision ~ Affordable: Health care must contribute to the common good by being affordable for individuals, families and society as a whole. We believe that in the sacred act of creation we are endowed with the talents, wisdom and abundant resources necessary to meet the needs of one another, including the health care needs of all. Therefore, in our calling to be faithful stewards, we understand our responsibility to use our health care resources effectively, to administer them efficiently, and to distribute them with equity.

Vision ~ Accessible: All persons should have access to health services that provide necessary care and contribute to wellness. We believe humanity is sacred and that all persons should benefit from those actions which contribute to our health and wholeness. Therefore, we are called to act with justice and love, to ensure that all of us have access to the health care we need in order to live out the fullness of our potential both as individuals and as contributing members of our society. We must work together to identify and overcome all barriers to and disparities in such care.

Vision ~ Accountable: Our health care system must be accountable, offering a quality, equitable and sustainable means of keeping us healthy as individuals and as a community. We believe that as spiritual and sacred vessels, we are responsible for the care of our bodies to the best of our ability and for the care of one another regardless of individual circumstances. Therefore, individuals, families, governments, businesses, and the faith community are called to work in partnership for a system that ensures fully-informed, timely, quality and safe care that treats body, mind and spirit.

I can't raise my hand and say that I know what the bill means for me, but I can say that I'm happy about it, and that whatever price I have to pay, I do think it's worth it.

Thanks Steve for the topic! :-)