when hiding under your bed isn’t an option, part three and final

I woke up from a nightmare several nights ago that was about all women losing healthcare coverage. In the dream, my mother was much worse with her heart condition and could not even buy the medicines she takes on a daily basis for her high blood pressure. She couldn’t even pick up a prescription and pay for them herself. And I had been diagnosed with cancer and was not able to even see a doctor. I have never had a dream like this during any other “administration”. I didn’t even have such scary dreams after living in NYC before, on and after 9/11.

Though I agree that Kathy Griffin’s picture holding the president’s bloodied head was of disgustingly poor judgment and I don’t think should have been taken or made involving anyone, president or not, maybe instead of crucifying her we should be taking the president’s actions more seriously. Maybe we should be putting the blame where it deserves to be rather than having to also withstand smear campaigns of anyone who disagrees with any of this or who puts out art that is distasteful? I have heard and read and watched reactions to Kathy Griffin’s poor decision that reach far beyond reactions to a disabled reporter’s body shaking and movements being copied by the now “president”. I propose that under-reacting to the person she made a bad judgment call about and overreacting to her is just as morally wrong if not more morally wrong than what she did. Forgive me for wondering about all of the black, female, poor, gay, disenfranchised, immigrant and disabled children this morally bankrupt president and team have affected for these 140 full days just as much or more than those wondering about the effects of one picture on one man’s children who is being compensated to protect all of the children of this country.

I read two articles one right after the other on a break at work a couple of days ago. One was about how some democrats were jumping ahead in thinking that they could already pursue articles of impeachment, even though droves of non-partisan attorneys have stated that they agree that there is enough evidence suggesting collusion with Russia and/or obstruction of justice. And the other was a fluff article about how the current president eats fast food three times a day. It made me think back to when I broke my ankle (twice) and called upon the same surgeon (twice). I didn’t seek him out a second time or agree to do the surgery with him the first time because of his technical skill, though flawless. It wasn’t because of his hospital affiliation or the finances. It was because of his bedside manner, his integrity and his compassion.

There is no army in the world who could convince me that we, as a country who used to be the leader of the free world (that position is up for grabs at this point), don’t deserve to expect bedside manner (I will never get the image of him shaking like the disabled reporter to make fun of him), integrity (the lies that are being told on a daily basis are serious and demeaning to our intelligence) and compassion (I will never forget the audio of his ugly voice saying what you can do to women when you are “famous”). And how should I trust someone to run the country and make decisions about my and my family’s healthcare, livelihood, protections against more bullying and survival on a chaotic and changing planet if they can’t even make basic decisions to take care of their own health even though they can afford to?

For the first few seconds when I wake up in the morning I am happy for the new day, not remembering our reality yet. And then I remember and feel that same knot in my stomach. Hiding under the bed is never an option and, at 5 feet 8 inches tall, I would never fit in the one of the drawers under my bed. Getting ready to face the day, I often find myself looking at some images that inspire me or reading an article that looks inspiring. On a recent morning I stumbled across one about an author who was going through a difficult time, had watched an old “Mr. Roger’s neighborhood” episode and then met Fred Rogers in his paper’s office in Pittsburgh. Mr. Roger’s first greeted him by asking “were you one of my television neighbors growing up?” and then, realizing this young man was in a bit of distress, sat with him and listened about it at length before moving on. I was struck immediately by the themes: the “bedside manner”, the integrity and the compassion. I cried and cried when I read that article.

When I finally do get out of bed, it’s not with the same get up and go. I don’t “assume” I will have the most inspiring of days. I mostly hope they pass quickly. But then I remember that I do have a lot to be grateful for: I have had some amazing teachers starting with my own mother and it is my duty to not hide under the bed. I know that I have a duty and responsibility to try to “be the change I wish to see in the world”. And I take that responsibility very seriously, as should anyone giving the gift and burden of being any kind of leader in this world, even when the people who should feel the greatest amount of responsibility feel none; especially then. In this country, in 2017, 140 days into what feels like a really long philosophy class exercise, hiding under the bed just isn’t an option.

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