Thursday, August 20, 2009

Deep Listening


Late summer roses, tough and beautiful.

I've been following the debate over health care reform kind of at arm's length, because getting in too close to it makes me crazy. It's an angry, buzzy, stinging energy field, like hornets or yellow jackets, that swirls around all those town meetings, TV news station commentaries, newspaper editorials (pro and con). The energy around the debate feels so ominous to me. Feels like it could ignite into something really destructive at any second.

What's at the root of all the craziness? A friend suggests that what we're going through is a national identity crisis, a theory that makes more sense to me than blaming the Republicans, or assuming the problem stems from racism because our president is black (I've heard both theories repeatedly). We Americans think our country is/should be free-market, right? We also think of ourselves as a culture in which we take care of people. I think we believe in taking care of our citizens ... or do we? Maybe we don't anymore.

Facing the truth that we are not well cared for, realizing our free-market health care system is broken, opening our eyes to the truth about the insurance and pharmeceutical industries has shaken our national ego to the core. That idea feels right to me. My friend has been asking those against health care reform, "Just what part of our health care system do you think is worth preserving?" That's an EXCELLENT question, don't you think?

If it was up to me, I would call for a national moratorium on the debate and ask that everyone engage in a bout of deep listening. I would ask people to ask themselves, at the deepest level, what's going on and listen carefully, silently, until some wisdom comes up the surface. I would ask people to find someone they disagree with, and listen carefully to each other.

All too often we are already preparing a response when we hear something we disagree with. Our minds are made up and we're ready to fight for what we believe is right. But what could we accomplish if we stopped, if we listened, really listened? What hurdles could we get over/around/through if we opened our minds to all possibilities? Can you imagine?

26 comments:

Elizabeth said...

My sentiments exactly.
Stop talking and listen carefully.........
people could step back from the fray and ask themselves what a civilized country owes its citizens.

America is all about the almighty dollar
but it's about all sorts of other very good things too

America means to be on the right side
and can be...

Ronda Laveen said...

The question of what is worth preserving in our current health care system is the best one I've heard yet. And the idea of a country in an identitiy crisis? Oh, yeah. People are so polarzied on this issue that they can't move forward. Deep listening, introspection and change are some of the hardest things to accomplish.

Expat From Hell said...

Living in three "other" health care systems has really opened my eyes. One, it is far more "fair" over there. Two, while less modernized (especially in Eastern Europe) it is more a part of your life, without being such a financial burden. Frankly, I don't think Americans (especially those with the good "plans") really want to be fair to others. Thank you for your "listening", Reya. You remain a shining example in so many terrific ways.

EFH

Linda Sue said...

Health care? what is it? If it is government subsidized gyms, bicycle paths,organic farmers, eliminating shite food,and patching up people as well as giving them healthful living tips and not about insurance companies. drug companies, money maker hospital boards then I guess that would work for me...but that is not the american way, is it...not any more if ever. I don't mind higher taxes if the taxes are actually going where they ought.

Amy said...

Very well put. I think our free market system is somewhat to blame for our greed and selfishness and I don't believe we are a nation anymore who strives to take care of its own. We are a nation made up of too many people who only have an interest in getting "more" and never being satisfied with having "enough."

There is most certainly a much greater need for listening. It's difficult to hear when you're screaming across the aisle, isn't it? I always say that if you stop talking for awhile, it makes it possible to hear the conversation at the other end of the table. And, oftentimes, that conversation can be quite enlightening.

Jeninacide said...

I don't really see our country as being one that wants to take care of its citizens. If we were then... well, let's just say we might not be in this huge horrible fight over taking care of them.

The Bug said...

I agree that everything feels very self-centered in this debate. Even I have my own agenda (I'd like for us to really care about the folks who need coverage instead of our own welfare).

Reya Mellicker said...

Linda Sue - You're singing my song. I do think our approach to health is flawed, seriously. There was a great article in the New Yorker a few weeks ago about two cities - the city that pays the most per person in medicare and the one that pays the least. They described the two radically different approaches to health care that the hospitals in these cities use. At the end of the article, the guy who wrote it said that if we don't overhaul the way health care works, it won't matter who signs the check - no one is going to be able to afford it. Interesting thoughts, oh yeah.

glnroz said...

If everyone would take your suggestion, then perhaps,, just perhaps we could "hear" each other. I admit I am a culprit too,:)

Rain said...

Good words Reya. I remember back in 1995 when Quebec held it's 2nd referendum to separate from Canada. All the English people I knew were IMMEDIATELY for the "no" side...I would never have wanted to separate from Canada for sure, but I did take the time to read the agenda. That's all it takes to make an informed decision. Listen and learn! Lovely photos...plus I love the caption "tough and beautiful", just like us gals!
:-)
:-)

Gemel said...

Beautiful rose Reya, pure and delicate.

Bless you, I know how you feel, my Blossom has been gone just over one month, my house empty without her, my soul lonely for her gentle purring as she slept by my side....

Nancy said...

Thank you for such a sensible outlook on this topic, so polarizing in our country. You are so right about listening. I just don't have the patience anymore. I need to turn out their angry buzzing. But I'm not trying to convince people of anything anymore, either. I feel the need to work from another angle.

Andrea said...

So well said. I'm not sure most of the people who are so passionate about this issue really know what it is they're upset about!

Tom said...

an opinion...one of the reasons this is so volatile is the bipartisanship...both sides are uber-rabid and you can't believe a thing either side says, because they are using only extreme examples! Afraid to say i am so un-political that I just try to hide while everyone else is throwing the big scary stuff overhead.

Mrsupole said...

I too think that everyone needs to step back and take their time about this issue.

But I also think it is that no one wants to see the government control the health care for us either, so we are in a catch22 here. They run the VA system which sucks and being a vet I know this, but I also found a site www.ihs.gov and a few others, which is about how they run the health care systems for our Native American Indians, including the Eskimos, and have been seeing stories for a few years now about what happens there. The Native American Indians, and my grandmother was half Indian, are our countries "dirty little secret". The congress takes care of the tribes, and for those who do not now have gaming casinos, it is atrocious at how these people are forced to live on the Reservations. Most have no electricity, or running water, and live in shacks that most people would not live in.

They also have a saying that you should not get sick after June, because by then there is no more money for the health care that Congress provides.

So I am still sticking to my guns about that whatever program that the Congress and Senate provide for any Americans they need to have the same program as the rest of us for them and their families. If it is not good enough for them then it is not good enough for us.

That is my story and I am sticking to it. And I could care less what party they belong to. We want the same as they get. And not what they provide for our Native Americans or Veterans, and by the way, they should fix those programs first and then we can all see how well they do with them before they try to fix what the rest of us have.

God bless.

Reya Mellicker said...

Great comments. I am listening.

And as I said in a previous post, the health care bill is over 1,000 pages long, so no one really knows everything that's in it, whether or not it would really work, or what it would cost.

I wish we could just swallow our pride and copy the health care system of some other country that does it right. It's not the american way, but wouldn't it be great?

John Hayes said...

I know what you mean--some of the stuff that's going on is really kind of creeping me out. I do think the identity crisis theory has some validity. I also think that a lot of hate rhetoric ultimately is getting fanned by the folks who have the most to lose by health care reform: the insurance companies. As far as trying to adapt a system that works elsewhere--what a great concept: I'd be all for that.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

well, dear friend - i have now sat mesmerized at your last few posts - in terms of them all, i find them more than compelling, intriguing and inviting - and gorgeous in thought and visually -

in terms of the content of this, all of the above as well - i could attempt to verbalize my perspective here but it has already been done well by some of the other commenters - the bottom line for me is just as john mentioned - let's start from scratch - if the cake batter has gone bad, you don't stick it in the oven -

so maybe i'll send a note to President Obama about shopping around for new ingredients!

thanks for a great discussion -

mouse (aka kimy) said...

deep listening sounds wonderful -a totally rationale, intelligent and practical approach to the current hc crisis....cynic that I am then thinks "of course, because it is rational, intelligent and practical will never happen!"

how is it that subsidizing banks, agribusiness, the auto industry, phrama, insurance, the military-industrial complex and the rest of the robber barons is okay but modifying the system so regular folks receive their basic rights, that's not right?????

Robbin'sMama said...

There have been so many scare tactics with end of life counseling and rationing care for old or terminal that people have stopped trying to understand what reform might be. We pay a lot for out insurance, and they make the rules, your dr may want you to take a medicine, but ins has "steps", which means if you do not die taking the cheaper stuff and it does not work, then you can have what the dr. ordered. I seem to be already on the social medical care so they cnnot scare me. Everyone should have medical care. I worked for 18 years with state medicaid, and would see those that were just over on income or something, but still could not pay for medical care. I voted for this president for the promise of care for all...I do not care how they do it, I just want it done.

Pauline said...

add 'think deeply' after listening deeply and we humans might have fewer disagreements. a wise friend once told me: an argument is when the people involved don't have enough information. a debate happens when each is willing to learn.

bobbie said...

Hi Reya. Elizabeth sent me over when she read my post today. You have managed to put it all so well. All I did was express my frustration. It is really a bit frightening to me to listen to all the shouting and hullabaloo. The people behind it are not innocents. They know why they are fighting and how to best incite the masses. but so many now I believe to just be people who are easily led by them, and who have not thought it through at all. They pick up on catch words and phrases and jump to conclusions.
We are in big trouble.

Steve said...

It's amazing how this issue gets people so fired up. I've always suspected the manipulating hand of Big Medicine behind all the opposition, but truthfully, I have no idea if that's the case. (I mean doctors, the pharmaceutical and hospital industries, insurers, etc.)

I guess I just can't fathom why people would fight this so hard. Our system as it stands now is so broken.

I do think there's an element of racism at work here, but it's less about the president and more about perceptions of who would be helped by a national health care program. People get surprisingly nasty if they believe their taxes will go toward medical care for immigrants, for example. I think that's essentially a racist position.

lettuce said...

listening over here to whats going on over there

I just know how glad and grateful I am to live somewhere where we don't have to be scared about money when we are sick...

Rachel Fox said...

Lovely to read. Listening does seem like a dying art sometimes. I know a lot of people who talk and talk and talk and never listen. Or hardly ever.
And now I'm thinking of Dr Frasier Crane!
x

julochka said...

watching from afar, as an american in denmark, where there is universal health care, i have been utterly mystified as to the vitriolic "debate" against health care reform in the US. i think your friend's question is a good one and i certainly haven't heard an answer up 'til now.

i'm here via bee drunken, she told me i'd like you and she was right. :-)