24 April 2016

Elections - Who Cares?

Take a step back from this election cycle.  

Hey, we all know that the “other guy” is crooked, a closet atheist/axe murderer, an uptight libertine, teetotally drunk, a kindly grandmother/grandfather who hates children and puppy dogs, and who supports pickpockets, pimps, pederasts and other people who’s sins begin with the letter “P.”  That is a given.

For sure, s/he’s vain, believes that God/the Universe/the Force has decreed that s/he rule and that s/he will save America from certain doom which is certain to follow another candidate’s election.

And we drink the Kool-Aid deeply.  We actually believe that s/he is the only hope for America and the world.

History does not really support that.  We have survived public officials who a substantial part of us saw as devils, the Anti-Christ and all-round bad people.  Just looking at presidents, this includes Thomas Jefferson (founder of a party that Washington warned us about.)  It includes Jackson, a poorly educated hothead.  VanBuren who just was sort of VanBuren.  Buchanan who fiddled while the nation fell apart.  Lincoln, who got ZERO votes in several states.  Grant - great general, lousy president.  Theodore Roosevelt, that “damned cowboy,” according to Mark Hanna.  Wilson who, along with TR, took the country hopelessly left-ward.  Warren Gamaliel Harding, who played a great game of poker.  FDR, Truman, LBJ, Reagan, Clinton, two Bush’s and finally Obama.  That’s quite a rogues’ gallery.  You know, I’m looking forward to the Tubman $20 bill.  At least it’ll be someone’s picture who we haven’t heard real bad things about.

Oh, and it includes Oook, who first took over the Neanderthals.

And we survived most of them.

What to do . . . 

No, do not expect answers from these Dispatches.  At least I’m not quite so vain as some people mentioned above.  

One possible explanation is inertia.  Government is a ponderous beast.  The most radical of candidates is talking about changing the way government spends maybe 20% of the money it takes in.  Government and people’s expectations of government makes it highly resistant to change.

Another possible explanation is the vast mix of deeply held political beliefs.  Abortion, gay anything, defense, foreign competition, immigrants, health care is the ONE THING that matters.  But it depends on who you ask.  The voting public mills around like cattle in a pen.  And each separate interest has approximately the same access to means of communication.  We just claim that the other guy has an unfair advantage, usually gained through some sort of skullduggery.  We just don’t want the other guy’s position to be discussed because it's clearly silly.  

We’ll survive President Trump-Clinton-Sanders-Cruz.  We always have.


06 April 2016

Sick people

I spent some time in the last couple of weeks interacting with really sick people in the hospital and elsewhere.

(Why is irrelevant. I'm fine. I can tackle twice my weight in wildcats.)

Reaction to people who are sick of vary. Sympathy. Empathy. (To the extent that person has empathy.) Indifference.  Helplessness. The sad knowledge that the patient has been hurled into the big medical monster and has little control. A big dose of "There but for the grace of God …)

The real lesson is that these are just sick people. Our bodies do not have a warranty. Nor do they have an expiration date.  But they are people.

I see a lady who is obviously undergoing chemotherapy.  She knows it's obvious. The head scarf is not to hide the fact – is to give her a scrape of dignity. When a person is on extra oxygen, that just means they need extra oxygen, so thank God they live in a time when it’s available. It's a problem, but not a big deal. I remember when my mom first went out with an oxygen tank.  She didn’t want to go out.  The oxygen tank would draw attention.  But she went anyway, to Barnes and Noble.  Nobody seemed to notice. She was amazed. 

They're just people.

Why do we fear disease so much? Very few things are contagious between humans, absent sharing blood products. Cancer absolutely is not catching. Heart disease? Nope. Stroke?  Huh-uh. Even the great big bugaboo of contagion, AIDS, is only feebly contagious. Father Mychal Judge, "The Saint of 9-11," had an AIDS ministry. He said that “his people” were amazed when he touched them because they had been treated so much differently, even by their families.

I saw a guy last week, a "working man," about my age. He probably was near the end of heavy radiation.  He had a radiation burn on his neck and nowhere else. He was remarkably unselfconscious about it.  The burn was not covered with a bandage -- in fact he had no head covering other than his John Deere cap. He was going through a lot, but he was comporting himself with class and with quiet dignity.

They are people.

We are all in this together.