Monday: Just Right

Happy Monday!!

I hope that everyone is well.

But you know what? If you aren’t, that’s okay here too.

That’s ALWAYS true, but the occasional reminder never hurts.

And let’s be real: even if you’re all right generally, Mondays sometimes have trials of their own. 

This week I happened to be reminded of Sanctus Real, who I hadn’t thought of in ages, and of their song I’m Not Alright.

Which reminded me that  it can be difficult, or uncomfortable, or downright scary, to say “I’m not all right“.

Why is that?

It’s as if we live backwards. If there is anything we need to be free to say, isn’t “I’m not all right” just about as important as it gets? Yet these are the words so many of us will do anything to avoid saying.

And sometimes with good reason, which is so sad – some of us have learned that words like these don’t always connect with help.

Personally, I’ve been blessed to have lots of people who were there for me when I said “I am NOT ALL RIGHT!”.

People who said “Well, let’s talk.”

or “Me either, but I’ll help if I can.”

or just “I’m sorry, and I love you.”

And that really makes me want to be the kind of person who offers that to others, you know?

 

Because we’re all not all right sometimes, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, I suspect that part of why we are not all right sometimes is to teach us how to be community. Like, maybe we aren’t supposed to struggle along alone.

 

 

 

Be well. 

Why is that? Against vs For

I recently saw a headline about a proposal to sell an ‘Anti-Abortion Fundraising License Plate’ that would benefit “organisations that oppose abortions”.

After a short period of staring at the screen, blinking, I thought about how painfully ineffective we are.

Instead of being always against, why aren’t we FOR?

Why aren’t we fundraising to help support and protect people carrying unplanned pregnancies to term?

Why aren’t we fundraising to support babies whose parents cannot raise them?

Why aren’t we pushing to ensure that every American has access to high quality education from the earliest stages of life up through a decent college education?

Or to ensure that access to contraceptives is free, or very, very cheap?

(“But Kat!”, you say, “if people have access to contraceptives they will be encouraged to have sex!”

Maybe so. I have my doubts about this assertion, and  clearly plenty of people are having sex anyway, but for me that isn’t the important point.)

For me the important question here is, which do you really want to do: reduce abortions, or control other people’s decisions and actions?

That isn’t a trick question, but do give it a moment’s thought before answering.

Because if what you really want is to reduce abortion, then it’s time to focus on the practices, processes, and resources that really DO reduce it. And pushing our country deeper and deeper into poverty, inequality, divisiveness, and desperation aren’t part of the solution here.

But as I mentioned earlier, there are many really effective parts of this solution – they make a big difference in abortion rates.

And they do it in ways that don’t require abusing, or alienating,  desperate people who feel trapped in circumstances far beyond their ability to manage.

(Which also sounds a bit more useful to the mandate of the Christian, according to my reading.)

And if what you really want is to control other people, at least be honest about that, so you aren’t burdening those who are actually fighting abortion. (And perhaps, let’s be realistic too: You can’t wholesale control other people’s thoughts, choices, or actions. I’d suggest focusing on what IS possible.)

I strongly suspect that most people who consider themselves ‘Pro Life’, view abortion as something sought by irresponsible high school or college kids. And undoubtedly some are. I have no idea of the actual proportions.

What I do know is that when I worked in a crisis pregnancy centre, EVERY ONE of the clients I saw who was actually considering abortion was a married woman who felt that she and her husband simply could not afford to support another baby.

My experience may be unique. I’ve sometimes wondered if God hand picked each of these clients to transform ME.

Because they did transform me.

But regardless of whether my experience was typical, or just God’s underhanded machinations, it does point to the fact that many women are considering abortion due to the exact conditions which most Pro Life Americans consistently work to preserve in our country: low wages, expensive or limited access to health care, reducing (of all things! What on earth?) access to birth control options, poor quality education, and limited support for families raising young children.

If that is all we have to offer, I don’t think we’re going to achieve this goal.

Hope and opportunity are a much better foundation from which bargain for the life of a child than are poverty, judgement, and continually diminishing opportunity to thrive.

So what’s up with this disconnect?

Is it really that we care more about controlling other people’s choices than that we care about saving lives? I hope not. That doesn’t speak well of us, and if it is so, I think we need to get our heads on straight.

But my guess is that isn’t all of us. At least not when we are paying attention.

I suspect that when we see media hype about one topic, we don’t necessarily make all the connections to other topics.

We may see the recipients of Head Start or school lunches or Food stamps as people with no connection to us. OTHER. THEM.

And maybe we never realise that these may be the very same people we are praying for when we pray to end abortion.

 

When we see that THE OTHER SIDE supports abortion rights, we may close our ears to everything else they support, and never realise that a great deal of what they support has direct, and significant impact on reducing the likelihood that a couple will ever even consider abortion.

For that matter, when we judge THE OTHER (or THE OTHER SIDE) it probably doesn’t occur to us that no one has ever changed our own beliefs by judging us, so probably we won’t change anyone’s views that way either.

As for me, I’m still against far more things than I ought to be, but I’m going to at least be for every viable part of the solution that I can manage.

 

 

Be well. 

 

 

Why is that? Agreeing to Disagree

 

I’ve been going back and forth this week between this post, and a lighter, more fun one.

Goodness knows we need more light right now!

But it’s been a bad couple weeks in my country, and it’s a struggle acknowledging that without being depressing!

I decided the only honest response was to not divide them up, but to deal with the pain, and the good, together. Kinda like life.

 

So … I get it that the anger, the violence, come because we are threatened by those we don’t agree with. But…

WHY IS THAT?

Why are we so threatened by people who don’t agree with our beliefs or are not like us? (The ones not trying to kill us, I mean.)

Why do we have to fight them, and make efforts to undermine them?

Now, I’m not talking about sharing our thoughts, or teaching our kids, or even debating issues. I’m talking about condemning, hating, even sabotaging other’s efforts, because they differ from us.

Why does it matter so much to us?

Because, really, if I know I’m right, then my most logical ‘action’ is to wait for them to learn for themselves that their method or practice or belief doesn’t work, you know? Why can’t we simply speak our piece and let it be?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I realise that a lot of people simply use racism, religion, political views, or whatever, as a cover for their own wickedness.

I do not believe that every ‘pro-life’ American believes it’s okay for them to kill doctors who work at abortion clinics, or to terrorise desperate women. I don’t think every white supremacist marching in Charlottesville this past week would have been willing to drive a car into a crowd of living, breathing, human beings.

But we almost all become entrenched in pushing our own views sometimes.

And I’d say most of us, at one point or another, value defending our belief more than we value the person we disagree with. (Or, for Christians – more than we love the image bearer of Christ who stands before us.)

I’m not sure why.

Do we fear that they don’t love or respect us?

Are our own beliefs too fragile?

Are we hurt, or frightened, by the thought that not everyone thinks we are right?

Do we fear they are right?

Is it just the fear of not having control?

Since we sometimes violate our own beliefs in trying to defend them, this can’t be just a simple matter of disagreeing!

Hating, judging, perhaps even killing others because they don’t measure up to our Christian beliefs is a darn good example, if we define ‘Christian’ as a disciple of the same Christ who said

Don’t condemn other people, that’s not your job.

Love your enemies, ask God to bless them.

The most despicable person you can think of is who I meant when I said ‘Neighbour’.

Whose word says the world will respect you when you live peacefully and quietly, tending to your own business.

I imagine it’s more than one reason. I imagine I’ll never understand it completely. Maybe not even in myself, let alone in all of us.

So then, how do we change?

How do we become more than we are right now?

How do we avoid having to return to this place in history again and again?

One way, alas,  is by thinking through these difficult, depressing things. And one way is by understanding history, AND paying close attention to the world today.

Another way, I realised, is to follow the advice of my main man Fred Rogers. Well, the advice of his mother actually,

Look for the helpers.

 

So I did.

And there were helpers – both real, live people, and also spots of hope and encouragement.

FIRST:

I was shocked, but deeply impressed, by this PSA that my own government created a generation ago.

Next,

I read an article about a black man, Daryl Davis, who spends his free time befriending white supremacists. Not protesting against them. Not threatening them. Not beating them up or running them out of town.

Not even legislating against them!

 

He befriends them.

Talks with them over dinner.

Shares his thoughts and listens with concern to their thoughts.

Mr. Davis is making a difference.

 

And that, too, reminded me that hope is stronger than darkness, that despair isn’t the right response – ever.

Then,

I read another article about a group of folks who have set up a resource to take the pressure of explaining why racism is a problem OFF of people who are feeling overwhelmed by that pressure.

Such a simple, powerful service, but I never thought of it!

Again with the hope! Maybe my species is redeemable after all?

Go humanity!

Finally,

I saw this quote in a document I was reading for work, completely unrelated to current crises, and it made me smile (that alone was a major feat last week!):

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.”¹

 

CAN’T ARGUE WITH THAT!

Any time  I’ve been in bed with a mosquito – even when I’ve had a fully functional bed net –  there is no doubt that all 1000th of an ounce or whatever it is of her made a HUGE difference in my entire night’s rest!

So, it gave me another shot of hope, and reminded me that it’s not all darkness out there, and we can rebuild from here. (Definitely the most I’ve ever gotten out of any reference to mosquitos.)

All of this, plus a good deal of prayer, managed to bring me out of the doldrums at least! I hope it’s encouraging for someone else as well.

 

I pray that the coming week will be better than these last few … for all of us.

Let’s all stick together out there.

 

 

Be well. 

 

 

¹ Attributed to Anita Roddick; haven’t checked it myself, but I could certainly believe it. God rest her soul.

What is it with Americans and Universal Health Care?

What is it with Americans and universal health care???

This is one of the many things I simply will never understand about my society.

The United States spends vastly more money on health care than any country in the world, yet we rank far behind the rest of the developed world in the quality of our health.

Umm ?????

 

If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, a handful of DEVELOPING (read: THIRD WORLD) countries rank above us for goodness sake!

I’m horrified that we spend so much money on health and get so little for it. Medical costs just should not be the most common reason people go bankrupt in a country this rich.

Now, yeah, when I was a kid I heard all the ‘death panels’ and ‘lines out the door and around the corner’ horror stories that get told about healthcare in other countries.

And I believed them. BECAUSE I WAS A CHILD. 

It didn’t take very long though, to begin to realise that one never saw these lines when passing health centres in other countries. And one DID see elderly people – lots of them; so, what is the ‘miss’ rate on those death panels?

Eventually I noted that I had never had a single acquaintance whose Grandma had been death-panelled off by their government. And interestingly, in Ireland, my friends’ Grandmas were getting some splendid benefits that made their older years far more rich. Hmmm….

Then for about 10 years I worked with people from all over the world. Being naturally nosy, and fairly low on social graces, I polled them mercilessly about their socialised medical systems.

I had a Canadian colleague in one of my jobs who lived and worked here, but tried to fit in all of his medical appointments when he went home to visit his family, because the care was better and the expense much lower.

The worst rating that I’ve ever gotten from colleagues in Canada, the UK, across Europe, anywhere with universal healthcare, is that their system was roughly comparable to mine for appointment times and better for treatment.

The most common ratings I’ve gotten still leave me slightly in awe.

So, I’m definitely all soap-boxy about this issue because it irks me to pay a lot of money for poor quality.

BUT THEN!

The truth of the matter is, my interest in universal healthcare goes FAR beyond the cost-benefit-analysis (because let’s face it, an accountant, I will never be!).

The thing that really surprises me in this whole ‘we don’t want universal healthcare’ mindset is that universal healthcare supports freedom.

THAT is the bit I’m mostly interested in!

  • How many parents have wanted to stay home with their kids but couldn’t afford to give up the job that had the healthcare benefits?
  • How many people with a passion to start a business don’t do it for the same reason?
  • How many people could afford to work part time and devote more hours to something they really want to do if affordable insurance wasn’t bound to certain jobs with certain numbers of hours?
  • How many people have wanted to change jobs, but had a sick child, or breast cancer, and couldn’t risk losing the coverage?

This came home to me very clearly when I was in grad school.

I had a classmate who had some awful disease that really required several months of treatment, surgery, and bedrest to hope to beat it, but she was still taking the required number of hours each semester to keep up her student status.

She was completely unable to manage her workload, and totally stressed out (which can’t have been improving her chances to beat the illness), but she kept trying to do it because there was no other option. Why? Because her medical insurance was through school and she would have been left to die if she stopped going to school.

Her illness made my life a great deal harder, because she couldn’t be relied on in any group project, but can you imagine what HER life was like?

So yeah, I’m a big fan of freedom, and I’m big on opportunities, and honestly, I’m pretty big these days on people not having to literally sacrifice their lives to keep an insurance policy over their heads. I’m a HUGE fan of quality care for reasonable costs.

It has also occurred to me that lots and lots of small businesses create far more jobs, and more stable economies, than one or two giant corporations owning everything, and that as long as people are bound by the need for health insurance we will remain limited.

“But KAT!!” someone says, “We can’t trust the government!”

No indeed. But we can CHANGE the government. Which is a lot more than we can do with the shareholders or CEOs of insurance companies (unless we happen to be filthy rich).

I know which scenario I have more confidence in.

 

 

Be well.