politics

entitlement

I don’t claim to have all the answers.

This doesn’t mean I’m confused. I know what I believe in, and what direction I want our country to work towards.

I spent an hour outside my congressman’s office this morning. He wasn’t there. It is just a satellite office, so he’s rarely there, but the whole office is closed for the time being. The other protesters and I gathered on the sidewalk. We had a few signs. We don’t want healthcare to become even more expensive and difficult to obtain for the majority of Americans.

Plenty of people honked, waved, smiled. Other frowned, gave the thumbs down. A few yelled incoherent things.

A Swedish woman stopped her car to talk with us. Her opinion: you must earn a paycheck and pay into the system. And that system needs to take care of families when they need it. Sounds both entirely Republican and entirely Socialist at the same time. And it makes sense. Everyone should pay; everyone should receive, when needed.

“My mother told me, never depend on the government, or a man,” the Swedish woman concluded, and drove off to work.

I love pragmatism. Everyone, if not down to the person then at least down to the family, will need healthcare at some point. It is bad for society if an illness destroys that family’s ability to go to work, pay their bills, etc. Maybe you believe that if you work hard enough, it won’t happen to you. Maybe you believe that if you earn enough money, you will be safe. How much is enough? Chemo might wipe out your savings in just a few months. Then what?

Above all, I think I’m pragmatic. Given that maybe half of health issues could be avoided through better lifestyle choices, preventative care (i.e. doctor checkups) is a much better use of public funds than denying healthcare until there is a dire emergency. Given that maybe the other half of health issues are beyond a person’s control (accidents, hereditary, no one knows why), it makes no sense to blame people for getting sick.

Our current system, which hinges on the idea that sickness is the fault of the sick person and is motivated by profit, not better health outcomes, is broke AF. There is so much anger in the air. People don’t want “their” tax dollars to pay for “other people’s” bad choices – as if the bubbles we think we live in are real, and that the needs of the vulnerable don’t matter so long as we personally stay strong.

City hall is across the street from a public high school. A sixteen or seventeen year old white boy, driving what looked like a hand-me-down white BMW, screamed obscenities at us while recording a video on his iPhone as he turned the corner.

You have to wonder – what is he so angry about? Has he ever worked? Does he have health insurance? Has he ever been sick, or been close to someone facing a serious illness?

He’s so young. He hasn’t had time to accumulate any life experience outside of his family and immediate community, most likely. So why does he feel such a sense of entitlement?  And rage?

I don’t know. But I’m not confused. I know plenty of angry white men are used to getting their way simply by yelling the loudest – too bad the rest of us aren’t playing that game anymore.

Advertisements
politics

sixty eight and sunny

The left turn arrow turns green, but the car in front doesn’t move. Two seconds go by before the truck in front of me lays on his horn. This is not a polite beep.

“WwwwwOOOOOOooooOOOONNNNNKKKKK!”

We make the sharp left turn up the hill. Another large truck is up my bumper, intent on making the light, even though it has already turned red by the time he reaches the intersection.

It is a steep hill, with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and the harbor. A guy with shiny black hair is riding his bike up the wrong side, tacking back and forth to keep momentum. There is a blind corner up top. A thick double yellow line painted down the middle. Max speed: 25 mph.

The car in front of the line isn’t moving fast enough for the Texas truck in front of me. He peels out, middle finger raised out the window, horn blaring…I guess he really must have been laying on the horn, if one hand is out the window and the other is (hopefully) on the steering wheel. He must have a lot of practice. I wince at the loud noise his tires make and at how uncomfortably close he veers towards the guy on his bike.

“WwwwwOOOOOOooooOOOONNNNNKKKKK!”

Luckily, the squeal of tires is not followed by a crash of metal, although two seconds later is would have been. Blind corner, after all. At the top of the hill, the Texas truck takes his sweet time at the four way stop. The slow car, now behind him, lays on his horn. Middle finger raised out the window.

“BEEEeeeeeep! BeeEEEEEPPPP!” His horn, like his car, and (hopefully) his rage, isn’t as big, but he’s not willing to let this go. They both turn left, horns still blaring and fingers still flying.

I go straight. Home. It is sixty eight and sunny. The ocean is beautiful. Many people are out enjoying the sunshine, walking their dogs, going for a jog. And I think – politics. These two yahoos with their rage and impatience – they are the ones getting all the attention. The rest of us are really pretty reasonable. And while it might not be dramatic or headline-worthy, we are the majority. We will be okay.

politics, yoga

I want to live in a democracy

I want to live in a democracy.

Resting in corpse pose after finishing my yoga practice, this is the thought that pops into my head. I’m angry about the election of The Donald, and all the evidence that suggests his leadership will prove more authoritarian and oligarchical than presidential. He hasn’t even taken office yet, but I’ve yet to see anything to reassure me that human rights, the environment, and more, aren’t under serious attack. Then, sarcasm:

Really?

Followed by a monologue on freedom, from myself to myself:

Because you don’t act like it.

You are letting the most fearful part of yourself – that one spot in your lower back – control your whole being. That’s not democracy. That’s terrorism.

I hate it when I’m right.

For the past year, I’ve been working on backbends – specifically drop-backs. Going from standing to wheel posture in a single breath, then standing back up.

But not really. My lower back is glitchy. Scoliosis, tight psoas, whatever. I stopped attempting the drop backs with my teacher’s help when my teacher started helping less. She has more confidence in my ability than I do. I really do not want to lift my heels off the ground, as suggested. My back seizes up when I feel afraid – which is what dropping back triggers for me. Lots and lots of fear. Plus, I know I can’t stand back up by myself.

At least I now know better than to get angry about my back pain (hilarious that I used to do that!). I decided to focus on building strength with the back-bending postures that didn’t trigger so much fear – and completely skip drop backs, assisted or not.

It worked. My back got stronger. But since I was unwittingly still operating under the “there’s something wrong with me” mindset, I was no closer to dropping back. What started as a real, valid concern (my back hurts and needs some TLC) had grown out of control. I didn’t even want to drop back. I was terrified, completely resistant, and jealous that everyone else (really?) could do this seemingly impossible action – even people whose backs didn’t appear to bend at all somehow managed it!

I want to live in a democracy.

Most of me wants to learn and grow. Most of me thinks that I am capable. But parts of me just want to be left alone. Parts of me still feel like ashamed little victims that lash out viciously when poked. Other parts are power-hungry dictators who overstep their bounds and lock up other parts in mental cages. So, it’s time to free the hostages. If I live in a democracy, I don’t have the luxury of imprisoning the innocent, scapegoating the immigrants, or blaming the victims in order to make my dictator of an ego feel okay with itself. I also can’t be mean to my ego, because she belongs here, too.

2017 is going to be an interesting year for my democracy – and ours. How about yours?

(It has been a few weeks since my “free the hostages!” epiphany, and I’ve started attempting drop backs again – assisted, although a few times my teacher has just stood there, hands off,  until she helps me back up. My breathing is calmer and my mind is steadier. It is becoming easier to believe that I can do this.)