Saturday, April 6, 2013
The Meaning of Compassion... or Why I Support ObamaCare
The day after the election last year, I came into work elated. Obama had been re-elected! Same sex marriage was legalized in Maine! I felt proud of the state of Maine, and proud of the citizens of the U.S. for voting for compassion rather than individual gain. That morning, a coworker told me in a whisper, "I cried this morning when I heard the results." I thought she was talking about her husband who has been having tests on his brain because of recurrent headaches, so I said "What happened??" She said "I am so upset that Obama was re-elected..." and proceeded to describe Obama as a liar, and that Mitt Romney is "a truly wonderful person." I was completely thrown off. This is a person I have tremendous respect for both personally and professionally. She is an extremely savvy businesswoman and she is pretty much the kindest person I know. To hear her saying these things about Obama, was simply heartbreaking.
She believes that her opinion is balanced and based in truth because she watches all news media regardless of political orientation. I responded "I don't watch any of the news channels. I think they are all spin, even The Daily Show," (which I love). She went on to say that she wishes people were "more informed," i.e. that they watched supposedly all of the news channels and... I don't know, believed everything they heard? I guess I'm still not clear on that. My response... well first I need to give some backstory since I haven't written here in a long time.
My husband and I have been seeing a wonderful therapist since late July, and it has made a hugely positive impact on both our marriage and my sense of self. I have been working on putting the past behind me (where it belongs), debating with my fear reactions, and letting the real me out to play. The conversation I had with my coworker is a good example of me talking back to "the old contract." The old contract was set in place for a reason, and helped me survive difficult times, but it is no longer appropriate. It's time for a new contract. It has been AMAZING to find within myself the strength to change, and forgiveness for myself for my mistakes both past, present, and future.
Anyhoo. In response to her saying she was so upset about Obama, I said "I think it's great! I'm thrilled!" in a loud voice, no fear of who in the office might hear me and think otherwise, etc. And in response to her comment about being informed, I said "I am very informed. I just don't watch all the spin out there. I don't believe any of it. I trust my gut." To some this may not sound like a big deal, but for me it was HUGE. I rarely, if ever, speak my mind to people I look up to, particularly if I know in advance they don't agree with me. I found it was instinctual for me to say how I felt. I had always assumed it was my instinct that was saying "don't say that!" and then I would go ahead and say it and feel guilty. But I realized that there is a difference between dissonance (emotional discomfort) and instincts saying don't do that. It can definitely be uncomfortable to disagree with someone you care for and respect, but that doesn't mean you should stifle yourself. I can't report that I felt completely awesome after the conversation, but I am immensely proud of myself for the way I handled it, even though I was caught off guard.
Back to the health care reforms. Yes, the way we do business in this country will be impacted. Yes, some businesses will suffer. BUT the idea is that this will be for the greater good, over the long term.Change is not comfortable, no matter how much we want to believe it is.
As my boss has been saying frequently lately, we can't keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Same is true for this country. We can't keep paying lip service to the concept of community, all the while operating selfishly, looking only at our own needs and goals. To survive as a species, we must think of others ahead of, or at least equal to, ourselves. Many many of us are barely getting by paycheck to paycheck. When we grab what we have and hold it so tight, and guard it viciously, we close ourselves off to community and compassion. We lose sight of what matters.
To me ObamaCare is a step in the right direction towards a compassionate community in this country. No one truly knows how this bill will impact our economy. If we look at it negatively and think it means "the end of our country" then that is what will happen for us. If we look at it as a positive, though difficult, change, we see that it can be what we make of it. Like anything worth it in this life, it isn't easy. It isn't easy for businesses to plan for how they will pay for health insurance for their employees. Some are taking the easy way out by laying people off, cutting hours, and in general, reacting out of fear. Others (which we don't hear about of course) are being proactive and positive, looking at this legislation as a means to a healthier and more productive workforce. Whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it or not, it's happening. Let's spin it, and raise it up. Let's create fairness and ethical responsibility in our businesses so that all people regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or income, have equal access to the basic human right of health care. Let's make it our new contract.