Keyboards of Fury

I was already a bit torched off this morning and this afternoon the match got  put on the gasoline soaked papers. Oh, well.

The first smouldering embers were stirred when I was thinking about the, to my mind, cavalier response one friend had to another’s disclosure of dire financial circumstances.  Only someone who really did not want to pay attention or who had led a rather sheltered life would make such a patronizing response, as though these things weren’t as serious as the person thought they were.   Or what the real possibilities are in today’s world? Which last time I looked, are grim if you don’t have enough money.

 It reminded me of the my recent research on PTSD.   I’ve been reading two wonderful books:  ODYSSEUS IN AMERICA, by Jonathan Shay, MD, and in THE FATHER OF ALL THINGS, by Tom Bissell.  One thing mentioned is, the responses an individual receives to disclosures to friends and family members about combat related incidents and stresses often fall into two categories: Either the patronizing and dismissing “You’re a hero, what’s the big deal” or the fearful and dismissing “How could you have done that”.  Neither response is listening to the speaker.  Neither response is making any effort to understand the speaker.  Both responses want the speaker to go away.  This, I think, the speakers get.  They stop speaking about such things.  (The thing that made me crazy this morning combined what’s the big deal with let me fix you, just as a point of info.)  

One thing in all this that makes me so sad and angry is:  We don’t have enough listeners to go around apparently.  If a person has been through an experience that you have not, don’t presume to know all about it.  You can certainly share what you know, and that can certainly be helpful.  But you cannot pontificate or dismiss or give advice without being, basically, fearful and insensitive.  What happened to listening to what someone is saying? The average pontificator is not going to cop to this of course, because after all they’re just trying to help you.    The other thing is that we do, indeed, have a two tiered world now even though many are denying that fact.  On one tier are people who are still managing their lives reasonably well, haven’t been in combat, haven’t lost their jobs.  The other tier contains a large group of individuals who are now, financially speaking, “poor”.  It contains people with serious illnesses and PTSD, it contains people who don’t have work, who don’t have money.

The deal here is that the unspoken view is that there is something “wrong” with you if you don’t have money, if you’re sick.  It’s your fault.  Somehow.  So, someone who is in dire financial straits is circling the area where you become, shall we say? cootie infested.  And when you feel that way, you feel terribly bad on many levels.  When you are suffering from PTSD, something similar happens.  Nobody can understand, you may think.  But you also know on some level they don’t want to hear it, can’t really hear it.    One place I’m going with this in case you’re wondering is:  Where is the help in such a case?   Isolation doesn’t really help although it is a tempting choice, especially when you confront the few options available.

Here we arrive at the complete conflagration, which I hope I can make clear.  And, in a feat of legerdemain, tie into what’s written above.  Let’s see if I can do it.  Right now Suze Orman is on Oprah, advising people on how to get through these times.  Live, she said, on half your income.  That works if there IS an income, or is likely to be one.  If there isn’t, let’s see here: One half of Zero is….and then there’s the getting to one half of zero after a while of living on half of whatever you’ve pulled out of thin air.   Now they’re getting to the topic at the center of the flame for me, which is health care.  Health insurance is prohibitive, as we all know.  The Cobra incentive in the government’s current program, picking up the Cobra insurance co-pay for people who’ve been laid off will work for some but certainly not all.  And what happens to you lucky folks who don’t have health insurance?  While the State of California seems willing to pay for your baby (or eight) to be born , if you are a man, or a woman for that matter, between 21 and 60-something? Who has no income and no job? And you’re not disabled? or pregnant? or in a nursing home?  You get exactly nothing to help defray health care expenses.  Period.  Sorry, but you are not eligible.  So, if you get sick? Tough.  Too bad, so sad, in short.   It is easy to say that this is bad, but wait until it affects you personally.  Then, it is an unmitigated disaster. And it is both humiliating and infuriating to realize that you are someone the society at large thinks can be flung on the junk heap.   While a veteran has health benefits guaranteed, many are not getting the help they need, either.  With no other public health help available, I’d say we no longer have people falling through the cracks.  We have a deluge.

Perhaps a point? you’re thinking…pleeeeeeeze?  Money cannot be our God, our point of reference.  It can’t be every thing for everybody all the time, which translates into most of it for a very few and the rest….well, whatever.  Thinking has to come back into public policy all across the board, we have to truthfully come to terms with the fact that we must take care of each other, and that means all of each other.  And, taking care of each other doesn’t mean allowing unbridled birth rates, it doesn’t mean letting the “free market” dictate anything, it doesn’t mean that the bottom line looking good is all that matters, it doesn’t mean letting the chips fall where they may as long as you personally are OK.   It means, perhaps, going back a bit and looking at what is, and always has been, important.   And that is not “stuff” and designer logos.  It is heart and soul contribution to being worthy of living on this beautiful earth, who has been so patient with us for so long.  It is loving your brother as yourself.

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