Tag Archives: civil society

Grief and Bravery

I have been reflecting on the convergence of grief and bravery a lot lately.

About how death can meet us in 6 minutes and 20 seconds. The power which the silence of a small (almost) woman can have in conveying grief, honouring friends and challenging the political status quo. I cried for the length of her speech and well beyond.

At nearly the same time that the MarchForOurLives protests were taking place around the world I was in Inistioge, County Kilkenny, Ireland – quite honestly a place I never expected to be.

inistogue 027

To understand where I am going ‘with this’ I need to take you, dear reader, back to 1978 and the publication of my favourite book of all time – The Far Pavilions.  It is a brilliantly researched and written piece of historical (romantic) fiction that if read by warmongers in any number of countries Afghanistan might have been left alone following the First Anglo-Afghani War disaster (with an additional 12,000 civilian casualties) in the Hindu Kush in 1842. But The British didn’t learn their lesson, egos got in the way and as part of The Great Game, they tried again, and again, and then America took up where they left off in an attempt to keep Russia ‘contained’. As the story unfolds the Russians have opted for cyber-warfare to claim global supremacy throwing technology at the United Kingdom and the United States (and other countries like Ukraine, France and Germany) where canons and missiles used to be deployed.

Each time I have read The Far Pavilions I have wept at the heroic passing of a most beloved character in defending the British Mission in Kabul (1879), a character who I always assumed was fictional, and at the waste and stupidity of ‘governments’. On 24 March on the banks of the River Nore, near Inistioge and his actual birthplace his great (many times over) grandniece Ann Hamilton seemingly randomly mentioned The Far Pavilions, and then Wally etchingshe told me that Lt. Walter Hamilton, VC actually lived, was loved, and was her relative. I am grateful beyond measure for the extraordinary gift Ann has given me by bringing “Wally Hamilton” from MM Kaye’s pages to life for me through her family tree. But by making her uncle ‘real’ I was also swamped with unexpected grief for the man – or a combination of grief – that has left me openly weeping three times in two days. So we are clear it’s not ‘just’ his death one-hundred-and-thirty-nine years ago evoking my tears.

Like so many others, and because I read history, I am frayed and raw by the betrayals of both contemporary and historically broken politicians, diplomats and warmongers whose greed and egos deliver words and the subsequent actions which destroy.  The invasions of foreign lands to pillage (or civilize ‘the heathens’) as we are about to witness in Iran over oil and expanding Afghanistan for their rare earth minerals. It is colonialism, entitlement, imperialism and, of course, exploitation using military means. It angers me enormously for the loss of lives of the people of the regions and the loss of their resources which would benefit their populations as well as when an American dies to fulfill ‘orders given’ just as Walter Hamilton died.

Returning to the #NeverAgain movement, the deaths of the 17 Parkland, Florida (and the 7,000 others in mass shootings in the United States since Sandy Hook) all less than their majority came not because of a choice to enlist in the military and defend a diplomatic mission in Kabul but by the negligence of those elected to the United States Senate and Congress wearing the Republican Party lapel pin. The National Rifle Association (NRA), assuaging the greed that often accompanies career politicians, the has poured tens of millions of dollars into obscene distortions to the Second Amendment  without conscience congress 2substituting the musket ball, pan-fired rifles of the 18th century into contemporary military grade weapons. So I took particular pleasure in today’s news that Remington Guns has filed for bankruptcy.  The NRA’s agenda is profit and nothing will stand in the way of ensuring that every ill-prepared, irresponsible, mentally unstable (mostly angry white men) individual has their right to bear arms maintained no matter the cost to a civil society. That mainstream media and American politicians refuse to name these as the domestic terrorists they are because somehow white privilege precludes doing so.

Since the slaughter at Parkland another 73 teenagers have been shot and only four states have changed their laws making it harder to obtain a firearm; which brings me to the bravery referenced in my title.

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”

~ Mary Tyler Moore

I think there is a duality of appropriateness around this quote which we are witnessing.  First, of course, is the loss which the Marjory Stoneham Douglas students and their families have endured and second, the inspiring life of the woman for which their school is named Marjory Stoneham Douglas (MSD)  (from being a Suffragette and civil rights crusader to squarely beating the agricultural and business interests looking to destroy the Florida Everglades as an octogenarian).  Her legacy of fostering change seems in very capable hands.

The MSD students are channeling their grief in taking on the corruption of American politics, the gun lobby and the wing-nuts clinging to the Second Amendment and in doing washingtonso they are seemingly fearless in facing the enormous opposition and accompanying death threats and limitless financial resources. In spite of these obstacles, in the space of five weeks, ‘these kids’ managed to rally hundreds of thousands (est. 800K) to Washington, DC. with protests staged in major cities and small towns everywhere beyond the Beltway.

They have already faced the greatest possible fear that anyone could – dying as bullets rip through their young bodies, and watching their friends die.  Walter Hamilton faced that same death by choice, the NRA and American politicians stripped nearly 7100 teenagers of any choice since 14 December 2012. #NeverAgain, #EnoughIsEnough.

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the price of a cup of tea in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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This is “Matt”. Matt is Every Single One of Us.

Jeff

This is “Matt”. Matt is the guy down the street whose kid plays Little League with yours.  He is courteous and helpful.  So, of course, he works at getting your ‘shades of blue’ reconciled in the paint department at Lowe’s.  Matt could be your neighbor, or you.  The truth is that Matt is every single one of us.  “Matt” is actually my friend Jeffrey, an actor living in Los Angeles, a very funny comedian, an intellectual pundit (when he chooses to be) and a man with a laugh that fills rooms with joy.  Jeffrey has been diagnosed with cancer, stage 2 lymphoma to be precise, and at present he is being squeezed in the middle like a tube of toothpaste by a grossly negligent ‘system’ and the people employed by it who have zero sense of humanity. I am mad as Hell over all of it.

The name of his insurance company matters, it’s Molina Health.  With ‘our’ shareholder, profit-driven, horribly broken, healthcare system in the United States the truth is that what is happening to Jeffrey could happen to any of us and our loved ones. It also matters that his insurance company hangs up on him. It matters that the administrative staff tell him that his premium will quadruple if he ‘wants’ home care for changing the dressing on the tube sticking out of his arm (sepsis being a real possibility) where he is hooked up to receive his chemo. It matters that I escalate and help seems imminent only to have some drone of an administrative staff person deflect and say it will take two weeks. It matters that appointments are made and cancelled due to software, and human errors and then the humans charged with delivering this news are devoid of humanity. It matters because the stress of dealing with getting healthy on your own (even with a supportive tribe) is enormous. It matters that his first oncologist failed to speak a single word to him in the nine weeks immediately following his diagnosis and never prescribed anti-nausea pills with the host of others which he did prescribe.  Jeffrey’s second oncologist is amazing. Despite the fact that I am a non-relation he has taken my call to problem solve aspects related to Jeffrey’s treatment from Sweden where I am currently.

Which brings me to two components of the health insurance storyline in the United States; employer supported efforts like those which “Matt” as an employee of Lowe’s enjoys (really amazing benefits which should prompt all of you reading this to vote with your wallet and shop at your local Lowe’s ‘just because’) and the idea of a single-payer system such as our Canadian neighbors and those in the Nordics enjoy. On this day, with TrumpCare effectively dead, the reality of a single-payer health care system in the United States has risen like Fawkes in Harry Potter.

Let me remove any ambiguity, I have a couple of issues with the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) but neither have to do with the fact that it came to fruition under our 44th President; the first is that it didn’t go far enough and the second being its mandate to be purchased under penalty.  If we have sufficient financial resources to wage seemingly endless war across the planet then Americans of every stripe should have universal healthcare on par with what our federally elected officials enjoy. And if that can’t be done then our elected officials should have that benefit voided.

How do we get to a single-payer health care system to the universal benefit of 330 million Americans and put the United States on par with other first world nations? Well, California, where my friend Jeffrey lives, ever the ‘test the water’ state for public policy adoption has a viable solution called The Healthy California Act. Evidently this legislation has broad support on both sides of the political aisle in La-La Land but one man has blocked it from advancing, and there is a reason for that. Actually there are about 475,000 reasons in the form of contributions from the Political Action Committees of health insurance companies and their executives to Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Redon re-election campaign.  Redon is a perfect example of the systemic violation of the masses by a corrupt politician bought and paid for by the highest bidders for his favor.

SB-562 The Healthy California Act.

The passage of a single-payer system in California, or nationally, wouldn’t put insurers out of business but the resulting shifts in the market would demand agility that insurance companies are not generally known to possess. A model which offers premium coverage in lieu of, or as a supplement to, a single-payer system would still provide considerable revenue – with a healthier demographic contributing to shareholder value.  Policies which would allow customers choices in taking advantage of medical tourism opportunities around the world should also be considered. The increasing perception of health insurers places them at odds with the humankind they are supposed to be serving – essentially sentencing their policy holders to death when costs become inconvenient and expensive. When we make a conscious choice to deny protection and participation by our most vulnerable we can no longer claim to be an advanced or civil society. The costs are too high when we lose our compassion and willingness to step forward and be part of the solution rather than remain part of the problem.

Critically we need to dislodge ourselves from the ‘us vs. them’ mindset that is so pervasive in any conversation about health insurance, healthcare and providing a path forward for all of our citizens. Universal peace of mind around the most fragile aspect of living our lives fully and completely should not even be a question in 2017.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you!