My tongue is in my hand…

I’ll Show You A Culture Crisis

Posted on: October 3, 2010

So, I’ve seen this  link passed around, where a doctor states that our problem as a country is not that we need health care reform, but that we have a culture crisis of people that think “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. He then follows that up with “life is really not that hard”. That line in and of itself reveals a good bit about the person behind this. Anyone who has the naivete to say this should not be patted on the back for spouting off his short sighted opinions. Not to mention there are plenty of explanations as to why someone on Medicaid has a cell phone (with, god forbid, an R&B ring tone) or new tennis shoes but can not afford their own health insurance.

First of all, a cell phone is no longer a luxury (and a ring tone is like $2.99, and who knows, maybe that song keeps the person’s spirits up, all for $2.99). Many people only have cell phones and do not have home phones. If you expect someone to orchestrate getting a job, childcare, and schooling, they need a phone to do so. Especially if they don’t have a car. Tennis shoes are also not a luxury. You have absolutely no idea what someone spent on their shoes, or if they were a gift. Nevertheless, shoes are a one time expense. Health insurance is expensive on a monthly basis (my cheap plan through work is 150$ a month for my daughter and I, without vision coverage), and not all jobs offer it, especially if you are working 2 part time jobs because neither company wants to pay benefits. Or if you make minimum wage ($7.25/hr) and live below the poverty line raising children and can’t afford to have it taken out of your measly check.

And just shut up about things like people’s fake nails, cigarettes, and beer. We all have our vices or our little ways we treat ourselves. If you really think that that extra 20$ will make a huge dent in their financial situation, you have no idea what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck your entire life, so just stop running your mouth. It’s important for our mental and emotional health as human beings (that’s right, people on welfare are human beings too) to do things to take care of ourselves and to have an indulgence or something that we enjoy or relieves stress for us. (Not that I think smoking is a great choice, but it could be worse).You can’t walk a tightrope all the time, even if the more fortunate think you should (because, by being poor, you’ve proven that you don’t deserve any of these things apparently).

Now beyond that, it still appalls me that there are people who don’t believe that health care is something we all have a right to have (like public education) and that it’s okay that it’s for-profit (unlike a public education, why is this okay?). That people think it should be earned, as if not everyone is worthy or worth health care (and as if it is not completely detrimental to our society to have people without health care). And that if you get help, you are relinquishing your rights to live as you want and you are opening your life to constant scrutiny, as if by accepting help, you have sold yourself to any and all taxpayers (even if you are also a taxpayer). And beyond this, what about all those people that can’t qualify for Medicaid or regular insurance? Too bad, so sad?

It must be nice to have your life so put together and unaffected by any misfortune that you can’t buy your way out of that you’ve got nothing else to do but criticize other people’s.

The fact that we have masses and masses of people with no apparent understanding of the concept of being part of a community, a society, a connected group of people whose well-being depends upon all others within that group is a culture crisis.

Guess what? The more poor, homeless, sick, needy people you have in your community, the worse off your community is. Walking around grunting about “your money” won’t improve your society. You being well-off does not benefit your society unless you utilize your resources to benefit your community. And guess what? You’ll only be safe in your little cocoon of “well-off” for so long before it all trickles up to you, or before you fall. At some point, the deterioration of your society will become a disadvantage to you. Is that the only time it matters?This is the culture crisis.

The problem is not that people think they can do nothing and have someone else take care of them, but that people can be so selfish, naive, and uninformed to think that’s really the case. Every group of people (race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, social class, etc) has a set of outliers that makes the whole group look bad, as the people that abuse the welfare system do for all those living below the poverty line. Why is it okay within our society to make such sweeping prejudice remarks and judgments about our fellow citizens? That is a culture crisis.

Oh, I know this is not the only group of people that are suffering from societal prejudice, as we all know there’s still ugly racism, sexism, homophobia and religious intolerance running rampant all over this country. And there’s the rest of our culture crisis right there.

The fact that teens and children are committing suicide because they were bullied for being homosexual is a culture crisis. The fact that a “Christian” pastor was trying to lead a group of people to burn the Quran (and people were going to do it!) is a culture crisis. The fact that women are made to feel bad whether they are work or stay at home and dads are made to feel bad for staying home is a culture crisis. The fact that there is even an Arizona Immigration Bill SB1070 that people support is a culture crisis. The fact that we have people routinely believing sensationalized media stories that affect the way they treat others, act, and vote is a culture crisis. The fact that anyone believes socioeconomic status is an indicator of someone’s worth, including their own, is a culture crisis.  The fact that  the amount of millionaires in the U.S. rose while the amount of those living below the poverty line increased this year is a culture crisis. The fact that victims of sexual abuse have to validate that they weren’t “asking for it” is a culture crisis. The fact that in 1.5 million children are homeless in the U.S.  is a culture crisis. The fact that the U.S. has a grade D mental health system is a culture crisis.  These are culture crises. The fact that someone on Medicaid has new tennis shoes and an R&B ring tone on their cell phone is not a culture crisis. It’s actually none of your business.

I seriously hope that any of my friends or family that jump onto the kind of bandwagons that people like the doctor who wrote this little rant are driving are doing so due to lack of information, not because they are actually that selfish and naive. There is no way to grasp the full scope of someone’s life within one encounter and it’s an insult to your own intelligence to criticize the life or lifestyle decisions of someone you don’t even know.

If you don’t understand what’s so hard about becoming a U.S. citizen, then go find someone who’s trying to do this and stick with them through the whole process no matter how many years, setbacks, or roadblocks it takes. If you don’t understand how someone can need Medicaid and food stamps for an extended period of time, then get to know someone in that situation and watch them try to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and get to know the system that you’re criticizing- you may find yourself criticizing it for all new reasons. If you don’t understand how bullying could push someone to suicide, then find a group of people who hate you for what you are (white, tall, female, a dog lover, whatever) and let them spit hate speech at you on a daily basis. If you think people should not expose you to their religion, then don’t expose anyone to yours, ever, and if you slip up and mention something religious in a public place, I hope that everyone looks at you like you’re a terrorist.

Life is hard. You know what’s really not that hard though? Being a decent human being and caring about people are are different from you as if they were you or your loved ones (because you never know, one day it may be you or someone you love in a tough spot)- offering them compassion, tolerance, and support.

The fact that some people live differently than we do or make decisions we don’t agree with is not our culture crisis. The fact that we are a society that struggles with human decency and respect towards one another is.

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5 Responses to "I’ll Show You A Culture Crisis"

Ahhh, thank you so much for writing this. Sheesh. You drive a very humbling point home, march it upstairs, make it brush it’s teeth, and tuck it into bed.

Whew. Wow.

I am humbled by your passion and grateful to be “in your tree”.
Thank you.
Light and love,
mj

Fantastic!

Thank you! (All three of you) It’s so encouraging to have anyone comment positively…sometimes the way people think and act is so discouraging…

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