Saturday, February 27, 2010

A cry for help: Our health care "debate" and what it means to real people

I have stayed out of the health care debate largely because it makes my stomach turn. The biting partisanship, the sloganeering that is being passed off for analysis, and the esoteric jargon clouds all my attempts at sorting out the issue. Last summer I thought I might learn something by going to one of the so-called "town hall" meetings.

Instead of a reasoned debate, I was treated to a group of angry demagogues lambasting the local first-term Democratic Congressman for even thinking about voting for health care reform. More recently, the woman who cut my hair lectured me about how those who favor health care reform are really trying to create "death panels" to euthanize people. I wanted to run screaming from her barber chair and the entire topic along with it.

Meanwhile, life in the parish goes on. The clergy visit the sick, console the bereaved, and we talk with families facing life and death decisions about the people they love. Most people, in my experience, know nothing about what they will face until the day they are confronted with the starkness of feeding tubes, incubators, and beeping monitors by the bedside of their mother or father, wife or partner, child or friend, in a noisy and often chaotic hospital room. When they enter that room and reach that moment, the political slogans are utterly meaningless.

And that brings me to this 13-minute commentary by Ken Olbermann on MSNBC. I'd like you to watch it. I'd especially like you to watch if you are healthy, or if you have aging parents, or you have someone you love who is chronically ill. I don't care about your politics, but make no mistake: politics and health care are now cemented together. This is not easy to watch, and Olbermann's language is blunt, graphic and detailed as he describes the decisions he is making about his very ill father. You may not like what you hear. But please watch:

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1 comment:

Karen Mawyer said...

Thank you for posting this piece.