As I sit here binge watching Homeland (and wondering how in the world I didn’t see this show long before now) my mind is wandering to how our country got to where it is today. I’m not one of those brutally political people – I try hard not to shove my beliefs onto other people, and I try to learn from people who think differently than I do. And I am just stunned to discover each day, that there are people who do not feel and act like I do. I don’t really know why that surprises me – but it does.
Over the past few months, the underlying current of negativity and ‘me first’ has gotten really bad. It’s hard to watch, and it’s even harder to hear. When it comes to social media, I haven’t unfriendly anyone – but I have unfollowed people who constantly post and engage in negative behaviors – not because I dislike them – but because I don’t need the constant barrage of negative energies in my life. It is what it is – and I hope that over time, it will get better – but I am not holding out hope that it will completely go away. History repeats itself – far too often.
I’ve been giving some thought to my personal responsibility as a member of our society. What I can do to better the world around me, and make things ‘right’. I don’t have the answers to all the world’s problems, and I don’t pretend to. I know that in some things, I have more questions than I have knowledge, and a lot less knowledge than I really should. It’s time for me to start learning about things – things I thought I didn’t need to worry about – but the past few months have shown me – it’s time to learn about the ‘real’ things.
I watch the news – and cringe – at things that are said by Mr. Trump. (I will not be one of those people who calls him by any of his ‘nicknames’ – although yes, I’ll laugh when others do it!). And at the same time, I wonder, do I sound like him – simply because I’m not educated in the things that matter? And well, that scares the hell out of me. I’d like to think that I’m an ally to those in our society who are marginalized or discounted due to race, origin, orientation, or disability. While I would like to call myself an ally – I know that in each and every situation, I may not act the way that I should – the way that my friends and acquaintances need me to to help them through whatever situation they are dealing with. A lot of that can be resolved by education of myself. Of opening my eyes and watching what is going on around me – by asking questions of the people that I know who ARE marginalized, who are dealing with a lot more than I would ever be able to wrap my brain around. I can learn, and I want to learn.
I used to think that I was a pseudo-expert with regards to healthcare in our country. And while that was the focus of my education, and still is something that is very interesting to me – there are so many things that I don’t know about it. I don’t know how the ACA affects the average American family – good or bad. I don’t know how the coverage mandates affect the average American business – and why there is such an outrage about it. Why people rally for its repeal. Seeing that the industry that I work in can be directly affected by the possible appeal of the ACA, and can be impacted by the changes to drug costs and insurance coverage, it’s important that I know more about them.
A post from a friend today gave me guidance on where to start, on how to find my own anchor in this absolutely crazy world that seems to be getting worse each time the sun comes up. So, I’m going to take her challenge to heart. (The next few bullets are paraphrased from a Facebook post from my friend Beth Witte).
1 – Identify the problems – Unless you are some special brand of genius, you can’t keep up with the dizzying array of issues. Make a list of the things that tempt you to light your hair flame. Then rewrite your list, starting with the most crucial issue, descending in importance.
2 – Pick your battles – Now, pick your top two, and research the hell out of them. Become the expert on just those two issues.
3 – Resist with respect – This is as important as having your facts lined up. You will never win by insulting, judging, condemning, resorting to personal attacks, and name-calling.
4 – Do not expect to convert people – The purpose of engaging people who see things differently is to gain understanding by sharing viewpoints. Take time to learn WHY they hold their beliefs can help you find common ground on which to build.
5 – Don’t assume you know them. Deciding that you know the entirety of a person based on their opinion.
6 – Who do YOU want to be? The only person that you have control over is YOU. It’s not your job to make anyone believe anything – it’s your job to decide exactly what you believe and why.
There are lots of things going on – LOTS of stuff that I am concerned about. If I try to learn about all of it, I’ll drown in it. It will drive me crazy, and well, that’s just never a good thing. (Heck, I’m already more than a little anxious about things that are going on in the world around me – and I don’t want to lose more sleep at night).
The two items that I will be focusing on are:
* Healthcare, Insurance, and the Affordable care act (because they directly affect me as a person with health issues, insurance, and working in an industry that can be affected by the repeal of the ACA)
* Immigration Reform – I have a number of friends who are non citizens. They are here in the US with various alien statuses, and are all hard working good people. The current environment for anyone who is non-white, non-Christian, (and in some cases non-Male) is rather aggressive, and I would like to see it end – that ALL people are given a fair chance to be a productive member of our society, and when it all comes down to it – to be a part of the real American dream.