Saturday, August 15, 2009

Traumatized



Our national health care reform debate is a mess. Every day I read another alarming report about the town hall meetings, about the anger and raging for and against reform as well as blind acceptance by others of whatever their favorite pundits have to say on the subject. A political cartoon from the Boston Globe shows an announcer at a town hall meeting saying, "To be fair, we will split the questions between the terribly misinformed, the rigidly ideological and the actively hallucinating." Yeah. What the hell is going on?

A huge smear campaign against Whole Foods started spreading through Facebook yesterday, in response to a Wall Street Journal editorial written by WFM's CEO John Mackey. Maybe it's in response to the actual editorial, or maybe in response to angry reviews of the editorial, I'm not sure. I read the editorial and though I don't agree with everything he wrote, think he made some very good points about health care in general. He says for instance that every adult American is responsible for his/her health. He makes a great point about eating well (of course). He also says that he understands there are a variety of opinions within WFM. He was responding to President Obama's call for debate on the topic.

The venom that we Americans are ready to spew at a moment's notice is truly distressing to me. This morning I was thinking that the Bush administration was so traumatic for our country, we became so enraged as our empire began to melt down, that we became accustomed to tilting hard against it. Now that Bush is no longer president, we're still looking to vent our spleens.

Raging against the machine is a hard habit to break, apparently. But is it helping us move through this crisis? Doesn't look like it to me. Maybe I'm mistaken. I'm very curious to understand what it looks like from outside the U.S. Help me out here. What do you think?

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(Lots of great thoughts and comments on California Girl's blog Women of a Certain Age.)

32 comments:

steven said...

hi reya, from my perspective america at this point looks like someone who has moved away from home for the first time. no autocratic parents telling you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. then after a big party or ten you realize "hey, i'm responsible for myself, i've gotta pay bills, feed myself good stuff and take care of my health even though i really just wanna enjoy the freedom.
so there are people who are afraid of that and go home for dinner, and get their laundry done by mommy at every opportunity. then there are others who say, "finally i can set things up the way they should be". because a country is like a house filled with all the best and worst room-mates there's disagreement and unlikely love. i hope and pray that america gifts itself the right to do things that are right and good because the door is open, the curtains have been pulled back and there's light shining in. have a peaceful day in reya's america!!! steven

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Good post and you are right..seeing the bad always is easier than looking to the good of a situation. I haven't read the WSJ editorial yet but will shortly. There are so many sides to this debacle on health care and the WFM CEO is quite right....we ARE the ones responsible for our bodies. A pill can not cure what ails many. Although I don't live outside the country, I can't help but think the foreigners are finding the indecisive acts of the US as pure fodder for their press. Lord only knows, it prevails right here in the US!

willow said...

Things are a mess, and I don't have all the answers, but I, too, am utterly amazed at the rage and blind allegiance out there. It's a wonder we, as a country, ever get anything done.

Your photo reminds me of "the mean reds".

mum said...

I'm heavily involved in story writing at the moment,so I limit my exposure to this debate and others like it. While venting irrationality in a controlled, therapeutic environment may have some value, its use as a form of social discourse leads to only one thing: more irrationality. Once the spiral starts, it's hard to reverse.

I left the States while Bush was still President. What I found most troubling during the four years I lived there was how little people were willing to discuss (emphasis on that word) ideas and opinions with which they disagreed. From the little I've read, it doesn't seem to be much better now.

The problem isn't limited to the States. Not much by way of consolation - just a reminder we all need to remember that, in this debate as in all others, it's a good idea to breathe in, then out, and to repeat the exercise at regular intervals.

cheers from Graulhet.

Meri said...

So easy to have opinions totally lacking a factual basis. And to dig into the opinion with more vigor when the facts are pointed out to you. If it weren't so tragic, it would be just plain fascinating.

John Hayes said...

It has to look bad, but it seems to me the US has gotten into a "His Majesty the Baby" syndrome for some time. Many of us hoped that electing a more statesman-like president would do away with this; sadly, the voices of superpower privilege are pretty strident (& this most certainly includes the voice of economic power, which is directly related to the healthcare debate).

Ronda Laveen said...

Reya: This is an interesting blog I was reading last night from Tony @ the blog Bench.

http://everton.blogspot.com/2009/08/thing-you-must-always-remember-about.html

Off to work.

Ronda Laveen said...

Forgot to mention: Tony is from the UK.

lakeviewer said...

Reya,
Thanks for bringing up the subject. The way I see this mess, someone has set this in motion, the anger-agitation- manipulation of facts, feeding an anger that is now irrational. It reminds me of the Salem Witch Trials.

I'm happy to report that in our small towns, the discourse is polite and reasonable.

It's a bit embarrassing though, how America looks to outsiders. Reading Steven's commnents, for instance, I can see how we may all appear spoiled and immature.

BTW, I'm a bit tired of this drama created to get attention. This is true mind-manipulation.

Thank God, we can access the truth more easily and on our own.

p.s. lots of code words to demonize both Obama and the health-care debate. Remember during Bush's terms how 'patriotism' was bantered around to keep discourse down? Now, it is 'socialism', 'personal responsibility' and 'hitler'. Mad!

Elizabeth said...

Yes, you are right!
Everyone out there has knives drawn for anyone who has the least difference of opinion.
Forget nuance!
I'm right and you're wrong.............

There are no easy or simple solutions to a very complicated problem.
Of course, I spring from the land of THE NATIONAL HEALTH, which, with all its faults is, all in all, A GREAT DEAL BETTER than what is available to most people in the US.......

Do some people really just want to fight? and be nasty. SAD SAD
One thing that I think is important: health insurance should NOT be tied to employment.

I could go on, my dear.......
wishing you a peaceful weekend.

Minka said...

I came here through "Women at a Certain Age", spo obviously, I have written there what I think. Other han that, I have best wishes for your administration and you guys. It's a complex issue and the solution cannot be easy or fast. Still, I feel some people are making it sound impossible which it isn't.

ellen abbott said...

I am appalled at the hatefulness that has our country in it's grip. And more...really, what are they so afraid of (regarding health care reform)? The haves will still have and the have nots will have something. Why is that so scary? To be honest, I really don't think this country is capable of real reform. Our moral compass has lost it's magnetism. It's heartbreaking that the people who have access to health are so compassionless, so hateful towards those who do not. I don't see much hope.

(my word verification...illyfate)

tut-tut said...

It's all (this vitriol) a very thin veil for active racism. If it weren't health care, it would be something else equally railed against.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

very timely post - it is sad to see the state of our country once again dismantled by rhetoric - we have a president who is attempting to right wrongs committed way before he got to office - and this seems to be forgotten in the midst of witchhunting hysteria - the bottom line is that health care in this country has been in a shambles for a very long time - this did not happen the day obama took office - nor did any of the other drastic issues with which he is forced now to deal - however, we do have a president who is willing to do whatever it takes to right the situation for ALL people - and for some, this is the real issue, don't you think? in any event, there is little that i individually can do to help but those little things that i can do - contacting my representatives, senators, other political entities, informing as much as i can those who seem uninformed or misinformed - i do - and "intend" that it is enough - let's have some collective consciousness on that, friends! :)

thanks for great post/forum!

ArtSparker said...

I don't if it's the same people raging aginst Obama who were raging against Bush. The point has been made, I think by Andrew Sullivan, or possibly someone he referred to, that emotional reaction in the form of moral outrage is just a lot less work than figuring stuff out.

Reya Mellicker said...

Some blogger (can't remember who) said recently:

"Belligerance is the currency of the intellectually bankrupt."

True, dat, no matter where you stand politically.

Margaret Gosden said...

It is as sickening as your photo makes me feel! How appropriate.

Celestite said...

I expected to see a huge debate over this issue and and a small amount of too-scared-to-even-talk-about-it with a dash of got-mine-screw-you.
We seemed to have skipped the debate entirely and gone right to the extreme fears.

Amy said...

It's on all of our minds isn't it? We watch with shock and amazement at the rude behavior that many citizens are displaying towards each other and their leaders. We can't believe how willing so many people are to believe something so easily without knowing the facts. They seem to follow blindly and in ignorance. We wring our hands, inform ourselves, speak out in whatever forums we have and hope, hope, hope that somehow our country will not only survive this, but also thrive again.

Gemel said...

Start with yourself, go within the confines of your heart, allow the love of the Universe to subside the anger within, raising your Light, and then sending out your healing Light to assist in healing our world....

Mary Ellen said...

I know this is going on but can't bear to follow it all closely. I'm waiting for something a bit clearer to lurch forward, ill-formed but acceptable to enough of those who are in the congressional Club. I wonder what the true fears are behind the vitriol. For me, it's about getting the many, many people (like my 25-year-old son) SOME medical coverage to keep them from disastrous bills, and to help them stay healthy.

Minka said...

All over Europe countries have systems where employed people pay something for health care and it covers more or less everything. Wy can't America just look around and see what works nd how it works?

Nancy said...

Reya, you said it all - "Belligerance is the currency of the intellectually bankrupt."

We have way too many belligerant people in this country, and they are very loud. But there are just as many of us not being loud and belligerant that want healcare coverage for all. We are working in quiet ways, but we will be counted when it matters, because we are just as active, albeit not as loud, with our elected officials. So the belligerant can scream all they want -

Looking forward to solving all this when you get to Tahoe! :-)

Val said...

hi Reya - i have a bit of catching up to do on the news so nothing too pertinent to conribute on this. Save to say that anger is often fear, and fear of change is big everywhere at the moment. So often people focus on the faults and do not see the progress. When a snake sheds its skin it is a painful process that slows down its entire metabolism. Snakes are agents of change. Is this a good simile??
Thanks for bringing this to light
love Vx

Phoenix said...

As a US-outsider now in India, who spent over two and a half years of the last three in US, actively following news and politics, here's what I think - finding fault is always easy when you aren't responsible for making it fault-free. And it is not just an American phenomenon. General public, common people, all over the world are like that. We like to complain, and whine.
Healthcare is a vital issue. It ties to our right to live. There will be differences of opinions on how things should be done, and there will be acrimony. There probably won't be a perfect, policy decision either. But things will change, and improve, quite certain of that.

Pauline said...

There's an excellent article in the NY Times by Frank Rich that speaks to the fear that feeds the frenzy behind the Town Hall health "debate"...

You can go here to read it: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/opinion/09rich.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=is%20Obama%20punking%20us&st=cse

Of course, when afraid, one usually believes pretty much what one already agrees with, not taking the time or making the effort to consider a different point of view. Canny politicians know this. It usually takes a personal cataclysmic event to get someone to step out of their established comfort zone and change their thought processes drastically.

Gregor said...

Hello.
not often, but it's better than never. I visit your blog.
to leave a comment everyone must have at least some knowledge, so I will give you some indicators of Ukr medicine.
During 2008, Ukraine has 9599089 cases of infectious diseases for 45 nosological forms. Half of patients were children. Infectious diseases: typhoid, paratyphoid, salmonellosis, shigellosis, diphtheria, measles, krasnuha, viral hepatitis A and B, epidparotit, leptospirosis, syphilis, gonokokkovaya infection rikketsioz. But I didn't mentioned AIDS, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
In our country, no one can get quality health care.

What can I add?
Ukraine has low level of confidence in the power ...
State power did not think about the people at all. They are only concerned about their own wallets.
Thank you for your attention.
Best regards, Gregor

Reya Mellicker said...

Great comments! Thanks to all, and yes Val the snake shedding its skin ia s perfect simile.

Gregor - reading your comment made me want to cry. Thanks for that.

And for yours, Phoenix and Minka, and all of you, thank you.

mia said...

Why are people so resistant to change even when the system is broken? Fear? Status quo? It amazes me to listen to the anger this has evoked. It's time to change, to be more compassionate, to listen when others talk. Who are the people who scream and shout when others talk? What is wrong with us? Do we not realize that our children are learning that this is the way we solve problems, by shouting, by waving our fists in someone's face, by not listening, by being mean-spirited? I don't know what the answer is, but to ignore the problem is to continue to give others the power over our personal health care.

Natalie said...

Reya, it happens here too. Society being babies and not taking responsibility for their own actions.
What I will say about the U.S., that I personally find distressing, is Hub and I receive hatred filled emails about Obama. They are sickening and frightening to us, why send them to us in Australia? What do they expect us to do? These are from our business contacts in America, who are supposedly 'Christians'. URGH! I gotta tell you, they make my stomach turn, and it doesn't look good for other innocent Americans.

Reya Mellicker said...

Natalie I had no idea! Wow that's scary but I'm glad I know.

red said...

haha the Bush administration was traumatic? i have news for you... presidential powers dont and shouldnt ever be able to effect the country as much as you think they have. Congress controls most of the money powers....
Gore and Kerry are both trainwrecks anyay

Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States (article 1 section 8).


and i think you have nice pictures.