I’ve been battling a great, inexplicable sadness in my heart this week. I’m not generally prone to depression, but this week has been one heartbreaking day after the next. I feel the global strain of weariness and darkness on my shoulders and despite the best of my abilities, I cannot shake it. I debated whether or not to post this because it is not uplifting at all in any way shape or form, but I feel like I need to get it off my chest. I feel weighed down by it.
I’m not explaining this because I need sympathy and support. (Edit to add: You’re welcome to comment of course! I just didn’t want anyone to think that’s the only reason I wrote this. I just…wanted to talk about this.) I honestly don’t think kind words would uplift me anyway, this is an internal thing that needs some recalibration of the heart muscles and some tinkering with the synapses and maybe a little experimentation on the tear ducts before I will feel right as rain again. I say this because sometimes these things just need to be said, because the worst thing we can do for ourselves is to pretend we don’t give a fuck.
There have been terrible events in my life, and instead of disappearing into the abyss to wait out my long years at the back of my mind, I went to the other far side of the spectrum. I find my greatest happiness as a champion. I believe in the power of pay-it-forward. The better we treat each other, the better the world becomes as a whole, and the happier we personally can be. I believe it is impossible to live your life in a bubble with blinders on to others and be honestly happy. It is not just the morally and ethically right things to do, to take care of each other, our community, our society, our world, but it is spiritually (regardless of religious beliefs) the best personal medicine we can give ourselves.
There have been too many events this week that have made me feel small and insignificant. Maybe the majority of the country agrees with how I see the world, and maybe many of them wish they could do more for people. But those who make the most news, the most impact on a greater number of people, the ones with the most power, seem to believe the exact opposite and I feel personally betrayed, somehow.
It started Tuesday when I got home from work and read the news and my mail while I waited for the oven to heat up for dinner. There was a news article about the republican debate that had been held the night before. A question was asked of Ron Paul that went something like – if an otherwise healthy 30 year old man was brought to the ER and would remain in a coma for six weeks, but did not have health insurance, should he be treated. I don’t remember exactly what Ron Paul answered with, something about choosing to take a risk by not taking personal responsibility for your own health care and that it is not the government’s problem. What he said was mostly political rhetoric. And why I am telling you this has nothing to do with politics. It’s about what happened next.
The person asking the questions followed up by saying something like, so since he has no health insurance, he should be left to die in the ER?
That’s when voices from the crowd rose up screaming “Yes! Yes!” followed by cheers.
I felt like I’d been socked right in the gut. I don’t understand such savagery. Even the politicians stumbled in response to the crowd. I’ve tried to write this kind of behavior into characters before, and it always sounded completely implausible. How could anyone believe that if you don’t have enough money to pay for insurance you deserve to die? Why is money the exchange for life? It makes my characters sound unbelievable and yet…and yet.
That wasn’t all. I made the horrible mistake of reading the comments to the article and there were too many people saying that they don’t want any of their tax dollars going to help the uninsured. That they don’t want to help save someone’s life, they have their own family to worry about. It was a darkness I didn’t think I could comprehend on a large scale. It was sick and horrible and I hated reading it but couldn’t stop. I felt poisoned by it.
I’m a writer, so I wondered what could be next. Private police force? If you can’t pay for protection, you’re on your own? Private firefighters? Right now my tax dollars go to pay for public schools of which I have no children attending, so what if I could revoke my tax dollars from that? What will become of us if we are a nation that only takes care of ourselves individually, our families, and no one else?
Horrible. Horrible. Horrible.
If that wasn’t bad enough, then I got my email update from GalleyCat featuring an article about a program developed by a journalism department at some college, I forget now, that has been picked up for use by 20 unnamed companies. The program writes stories, journalism for now – politics, finance, sports sort of stories – based on compiled facts. The program writes in complete sentences, strings facts together that make sense, but have no heart, no life, nothing human about them. The 20 companies are dropping writing staff. Why pay a writer when a computer program will do a mostly good job at the same thing? Have we devalued the art of writing so far? Will I ever be paid for my talent? I do not want a world built out of bloodless words.
Another article tells of a Harper Collins deal commissioning writers to rewrite (like a movie remake) classic novels, starting with Sense & Sensibility. Sick. Bloodless. Heartless writing. If it wasn’t written by Jane Austen, it is no longer Sense & Sensibility. Why do this? Why?
Other things came up this week. My husband is a teacher and gets a first hand look at parents behaving like monsters and children, children, taking on some twisted appearance of narcissistic teenager and responsible adult, being terrible at both. His school is bled dry by drugs, crime, gangs, and worthless parents and I think, it’s not fucking fair. These are good kids and they don’t deserve this. And they don’t deserve a callous world turning a blind eye because they don’t have enough money to pay their way out. Health insurance? Are you kidding? Try food. A place to sleep while dad’s on a bender.
I listened to a coworker talk about returning to her flooded house for the first time in months this week, discovering several feet of water still in the basement and tell-tale signs that the water had been chest deep in the living area. Mold spreads across every surface and dark gunk leaks from wall sockets. There’s no electricity, nothing survivable. A year ahead of gutting drywall, ripping up carpets, replacing wiring just to exist, and that’s if the claims agent isn’t overworked and apathetic. Oh yeah, and this week congress refused to pass a measure to put more money in the FEMA banks. After Irene, the coffers will be empty. When the water finally fades, there won’t be any help for the flood ravaged Midwest.
I’m a positive person. I believe the glass is half full because I’m still adding water to it. I work in a hospital for a reason. My blog is a gateway for taking care of the spirits of other writers. I give blood regularly. I participate in as many community programs as I can. I think the argument that life isn’t fair, it’s just the way it is, just the way it has always been, is a lie people who can’t be bothered tell themselves to feel better about doing nothing. Life is fair, people are not. People set systems in place that create unequal playing grounds. Life and the karmic fairness of it, has nothing to do with anything.
I feel a little bit like I’m waving around my fire and brimstone sword to lay waste to the non-believers. Maybe I am. Maybe I’d like to. Mostly I’m just tired of seeing human beings replaced by robots, beaten mentally to within an inch of their life, lost, forgotten, ignored by the classical “haves.”
I hate feeling like this. I am not in the business of despair.