Thursday, February 21, 2008


Last night, as I was leaving the ER up at the VA Hospital (the second time in a week), I emerged from the parking garage into a full-on lunar eclipse. I'm certainly no metaphysicist, but I do wonder if this is why everyone (myself definitely included) has been' crazy for the last week?!

Ordinarily, I'm known for my mellow demeanor and tendency to remain calm under pressure, but the last week I've uncharacteristically deviated from that description, veering toward the "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!" category. Granted, most of this anger is appropriate, given the circumstances. The Veterans Administration, like most government agencies is so broken and has been so thoroughly mismanaged that I'm not sure it can ever be fixed without being completely dismantled and replaced. The suffocating layers of bureaucracy that have to be waded through in order to even get anyone's attention are simply too much for most of these vets to bear.
They are people who volunteered and (at times) were ordered to fight, kill, and risk their lives for their country, and most of them have suffered the rest of their lives because of it. They deserve not just our sympathy, but our unconditional support and help. The support of the country they were asked to serve in just such an unconditional way.

I know it's not just the VA that needs fixing. The whole system that so many right wing politicians love to refer to as "the welfare state" is broken. This is not a system of entitlements, as anyone who has ever had cause to apply for them can tell you. Food Stamps, or Welfare, or any one of a myriad other programs sprang from the idea that when people (our people) are down and out, it's our responsibility to help them get back up on their feet. This is how we pay it forward: the people we help will in turn, help others and so on down the line. Try it. Watch it happen in those close to you. You may be encouraged to listen to your heart and do the right thing, instead of just changing the channel.
Go ahead: pay it forward.

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