herbal tea party

Side-Note on a Current Event: The Charlie Gard Case

I hesitated writing this. I thought about being vague as to my specific topic so as not to be part of the problem I intended to point out.I also wanted to be vague because I am a coward and didn’t want to be accused of insensitivity.

But it seems like the politicization of this tragedy was built on the security that any critic could be easily villainized. It is that security that I think is worth talking about. Because we are becoming less and less able to critique without an instant ad hominem backlash. It is possible, even in the most emotionally charged cases, to hold a different opinion and not be a monster.  If we reach the point that we are no longer capable of seeing our opinions as composites of millions of assumptions. If we automatically treat the questioning of any one of those assumptions as an assault on our whole person and our entire moral code, that is not just bad for politics, that sets up our society for the most bitter, pigheaded, and inefficient kind of discord. America is broken and this is not the way we fix it.

The sickest part of this case to me is how little it seems to be about the suffering of the actual people in the middle of it. This is a horrible case and a devastating loss for the family. I could not possibly comprehend the pain. I will not try to. Nor will I do them the disservice of making a grandstanding statement about the pain which I can not possibly comprehend.

It is not heartless to say that the politicization of this tragedy has nothing to do with the people affected by it. I think it is nieve to be unsuspicious of the attention this case has received from US outlets while the future of US Healthcare hangs in the balance. I have seen so many manipulative headlines which use the pain of actual people to draw an unnuanced view of an extremely difficult situation. This lack of nuance makes it easier to find villains where the political narrative would like them to be. Namely, in Socialized Healthcare. In the US, public opinion is warming to the notion but if that nuanced system can become a big, bad, one-dimensional enemy then it might cool.

It’s best in emotionally charged situations to give all parties, if not the benefit of the doubt, the benefit of humanity.  It is unreasonable to assume that any human being does not experience emotional life in the same way that you do. It is irrational to believe that the people who behave in a way you don’t like do so because they are incapable of empathy or because they are evil. I can say without reservation that nobody involved in this case wanted a child to suffer. I can say this because the idea of a simple evil defies logic. All humans experience emotions. Evil is never simple.

I do this too. I want to stop doing this. I unequivocally hate some of the things that are happening in this country. But do not think that evil things are ever the fault of one dastardly villain. It would be simpler if I could believe that because there would be an easy solution to evil. Unfortunately, in reality, evil is diffused. Evil is structural. Evil is a million tiny assumptions.

I do not have an opinion about the Charlie Gard case. I don’t think I have the right to an opinion here. It is not my family and it is not my country.

But I do have an opinion on what this case has come to represent in this country and I think the simple narrative has gotten it completely wrong. This is far from a simple matter but there is one simple truth; In America, after the tragedy would come the bankruptcy. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that every day in this country families are denied life-saving medical services because they must choose between their health and their ability to make ends meet. We do not have the luxury of choice, in fact, with privatized health insurance there is a de facto denial of care to anyone but the rich. We have the luxury of choice only in that the choice to preserve our health is considered a luxury. I do not consider Single Payer to be the perfect solution, that would come without complexities and faults but I do consider it to be the best solution.

Shouting into the void…

Like the people who say that protests are a waste of time there are plenty of people who complain that there’s too much complaining about politics on the internet. “Can’t we go back to baby pictures and funny cats” they say, and then something about how pointless it all is to rant online. And I get it, facebook is exhausting these days and we’d be better off calling or representative when we really want a change but also

Closed mouths don’t get fed. 

It’s an expression I used to hate, like ‘if you’ve got time to lean you’ve got time to clean’ but my dislike of folksy aphorisms aside, it is seeming truer by the day. Congress recently backed down on a plan to sell off public lands because of the hashtag #keepitpublic. Like it or not, in a world where a twitter troll is president, what’s trending is our direct line to the halls of power. It’s how we show we care and that we’re paying attention.

I’m sorry that Facebook is no longer a place expressly for engagement pictures. Facebook has been, I think, misunderstood in the past. People treat it like a friend’s house, a semi-private gathering place to be polite and to talk about safe things. But if that were the case it’d be a pretty crowded party considering all the passing acquaintances and former work colleagues in attendance.

No, Facebook is a semi-public space and in all public spaces where we are afforded with the ability to share ideas and anxieties, we should do so. That’s good citizenship, not just because of the current administration but in all democracies at all time. Being vocal is a part of vigilance and being vigilant is how we guarantee it remains the people’s government.

So maybe you think we don’t need vigilance, and maybe you think that this is all liberal backlash and paranoia. Maybe you think that political opinions should be kept to yourself and that what’s currently happening in DC will work itself out. Three things:

Three things:

  1. DC should not work itself out. It should work to please us. Leaving DC to its own devices is to say that every four years you put in an appearance at being a Democracy then you bail to the backseat and let yourself be driven wherever DC wants you to go.
  2. Liberal backlash it may, this is as much a problem with the Democratic Party as it is with the Republicans. But this is not paranoia. This is not normal. It is not politics as usual to have a man who bragged about assault as Commander and Cheif. Nothing makes that okay, not ever.  Nothing is normal about the audacity with which White Supremacists are becoming more vocal and violent. Nothing is normal about the authoritarian turn this country has taken.
  3. Every time you keep silent you surrender a little bit more of your autonomy.  To use another stupid aphorism; A stitch in time saves nine. The time to react is not after we wait and see but while we still have a platform and a voice.

I believe in this country and I trust our government to remain true to its constitutional mission. Because I believe in this country I feel that it is my duty as a citizen to share my concerns in every public forum available so that we keep communication going, keep engagement thriving, and protect our fragile democracy by being the demos which powers it.

So, I know that you’re tired of my anger and I’m sorry that I don’t have a baby to share pictures of instead. But this is my baby, if you want to know what’s happening in my life this is it.

As long as I have a voice I’m going to use it.

If you want to talk about what comes next, I’m game. Let’s talk about getting the Herbal Tea Party started. Let’s talk about making sure this remains the home of the free by getting people into office that want to move us forward. Let’s talk! Comment on my angry posts tell me how your feeling.

But if how your feeling is that I should shut-up, sorry that’s not happening anytime soon.