Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is Value Lost in Translation?

WOW! It's been 18 days since I posted. As usual, things are happening very fast here in DC and it's hard to keep up and to not get lost in the shuffle.

Health care is the hot topic right now and I've been following the developments closely and attending hearings on the Hill. Frankly, I'm not liking much of what I'm hearing. Universal health care is a good idea in principle, but it is very tricky to work out in real life without someone getting the short end of the stick.

Before we go any further, let me say this: Yes, I have read the WHOLE bill. THE WHOLE THING! ALL 100+ pages of it!

My eyes are tired and I need new glasses, but I did it. It made for some really "interesting" reading. I felt almost as if I were reading an early 20th century writing from someone in Germany about eugenics. Rather than focusing on healthy life styles and treatability of various conditions and diseases, it's all about cutting costs. It's all about illegal aliens getting free health care at tax payer's expense. It's all about the government telling doctors how to practice medicine. They will be forced to do procedures that are against their consciences and, I might add, against the meaning of The Hippocratic Oath to which every physician ascribes. It's about end of life issues that should be left up to God, like when a person is going to die. It's alarming stuff.

The President stood up in front of an open meeting with the AARP and stated that much of what has people, especially senior citizens and people with disabilities, alarmed has been lost in translation. What does this mean? Does this mean that the legislation was written in some sort of code that only the people that wrote it understand? Does this mean that those same people think that Americans are so trusting that they will swallow anything the government throws at them? What does it mean?!

To me, when something is lost in translation, it means that it was spoken in one language and when rewritten or spoken in another language some of the meaning is lost. It does not mean that the words suddenly take on different meanings in the same language depending on the audience.

All sorts of things get lost in translation. My husband and I loose stuff in translation with each other all the time. I speak Female and he speaks Caveman. We have our share of misunderstandings but are able to work through them with God's help and a choice to not let it fester when there's a splinter in the skin of US.

There is a provision in this bill that would create a regulation within socialized medicine, including what is already Medicare/Medicaid, that a person who is chronically ill, disabled, or elderly will be interviewed every 5 years to determine if they need to commit suicide. It says "counseling sessions" will take place. In plain English, it means that if you are too expensive to maintain, you will be helped to end your life whether you want to or not.

Getting back to the President's little conference. After being asked point blank what that section meant, he hemmed and hawed and admitted that he'd not read the legislation. This from a man who promised to post all pending legislation on the internet so everyone could read it, understand it and advise their Congressmen how they wanted them to vote.

After hemming and hawing some more, he said something along the lines of this: I really think this has been misunderstood. End of life issues are directives such as a living will, power of attorney, and the like.

Excuse me?

It says in plain English (they didn't even try to dress it up with political speak) that the counseling sessions will happen and what will be discussed. It doesn't use the word euthanasia, but it does discuss assisted suicide. It also discusses rationing health care and people besides you and your doctor making decisions about your health care and, ultimately, your life.

I am very proud of the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats who have stood firm and not allowed the bill out of committee to the House floor for a vote. Hopefully, this will be the case until the gavel is down for the August recess. If the Congress votes the way that Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Obama want them to, there will be a revolt in the ranks and the midterm elections of 2010 will be UGLY. People, once they truly understand what is in this legislation are going to be furious and vote to replace those who voted for it with better representation.

The bigger thing lost in translation here is the value of every life that comes into being. Everyone has something to contribute and something to teach. The elderly are to be honored and listened to. They are to be cared for, not discarded as useless millstones. Those with chronic illness should not be put to death because they are sick. Find a cure...or a way to treat the illness so they can get on with their lives. People who are disabled may communicate differently, they may move differently or they may not see things visually as others do. Still, they have something to offer. The focus of our health care system should be on promoting health lifestyles and treating diseases as they come up. A child shouldn't be euthanized because of being born with a disability. The parent shouldn't be sterilized because they fathered or gave birth to a child with a disability.

The Founding Fathers of this country understood that life was precious in all its forms. The founding documents of this country include statements like, "the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." They believed in a culture of life, not expedience or survival of the fittest. To this day, those concepts that are available to be read in black and white, braille, or on line are still clearly understood. The meanings of their words and the values they espouse have not been lost in translation or changed over time.

So, then, how is it that a piece of legislation can be misunderstood when the words are in plain English? Could it be that the meaning hasn't been lost in translation and this change that the majority voted to adopt in November of 2008 is not what it was thought to be? Was something that was misunderstood in the first place? Or are blind eyes being turned to the reality of what that change means? Are we choosing to loose the translation?

All I know is this. Every single person ever created has some sort of value. The question asked should be "what does this life have to offer, no matter how large or small?" The question should NOT be "how much is it going to cost to sustain this life?" The government's job is to protect its citizens, not kill them when they get too expensive.

It is a matter of perspective, not a translation problem.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Simply Wonderful

It's just after 2:30 on Sunday AM as I write this. I'm all wound up but need to go to bed. The weenie dog is here beside me sleeping peacefully and Tony is in the shower.

I took stock of my life today. God has been good to me. I have a wonderful apartment in a great city...the neighborhood could be a little safer, but I know that God is protecting me at all times...and I know how not to be take stupid chances or put myself in danger. We have a great church that we love and where we are loved and shepherded. Tony is doing well in seminary and has been able to work many extra hours this summer at his job that is part time during the school year. I am slowly making a new circle of friends but still missing my two best friends: one in NYC and one from childhood (Kindergarten, believe it or not) who now lives in Montgomery, Alabama. The visits are few and far between.

I do still need a job. I've got a great lead and am in process, so I won't talk about it too much here. Let's just say that it is tailor made for me.

We are living on a shoe string, but our bills are paid. We are eating...mostly hamburger instead of fillet mignon, but it is nutritious.

We have had many cheap, if not free, dates this Summer because there is always something to do or see here in DC.

We have a life without drama. No family drama, no work drama, no school drama. It's wonderful.

We're both reasonably healthy. Enough said.

We're in love with each other after 7 years of marriage and still LIKE each other, too.

Mostly, though, we serve a great big God who has redeemed us through His Son, Jesus and has filled us with the Holy Spirit.

Yep, life is simply wonderful.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

8, er, 10 days a week!

Last time I wrote, I'd just found out about the suicide of a friend's daughter and attended the visitation. It was a painful afternoon. Blogging about it helped, but I have to admit that I was still hurting for my friend and her family. Also, I was quite concerned about the funeral. Would the pastors who were officiating be honest, or would they sweep the ugly truth under the rug in favor of platitudes?

An aside here: it was not a funeral, but a memorial service. There is a distinct difference; the terms are NOT interchangeable. At a funeral, the body is present in a casket. A funeral is followed by a burial, which may or may not be open to nonfamily members. A memorial service is held without the presence of a body in a casket. The burial has either already taken place before the service or the body has been cremated.

Christy's memorial service was such a blessing to be a part of. Two of the pastors from our church officiated, and they were clear about the fact that Christy committed suicide and the events that led up to it. They were clear about the fact that suicide is not the unpardonable sin, nor is it a worse sin than any other sin. The Gospel was presented in such a way as to be easily understood. I was proud of Christy's Mom and sister for their insistence that the truth be not hidden. I was even prouder of my pastors for the sensitive, compassionate and truthful way they addressed those present. It was truly a holy moment.

Perhaps the most moving part of the service, at least for me, were the eulogies give by Christy's Mom and her twin sister. Becky shared in a way that only a sister can and gave us much insight into the person that was her lifelong best friend. Claudia shared other stories that gave us insight into the pain that a parent experiences when they know their child is walking the path that Christy walked. There was much laughter among the many tears shed.

Christy herself shared at her own funeral via letters and journals that she left behind. What a poignant inside into this precious young woman's tortured but beautiful mind. I wish I'd truly known her.

After the service, the family received visitors in the lovely fellowship hall at the church. The food was provided by the church and the ladies of the church hostessed all of the guests. It was a blessing to see the church supporting the family in this way.

Claudia continued to be true to herself and allow the tears to come when they wished rather than stifling herself. Becky was the same. I was proud of them both. I was even prouder of how much those around them reached out in comfort.

At the reception, I began to understand how healing happens. It sneaks in quietly in little moments. I began to see some purpose in this tragic circumstance. I had the honor of sitting around with Christy's friends and assure them that yes, the pastor was telling the truth...suicide is no worse than any other sin. It is covered by the shed blood of Jesus like any other. They were eligible to be covered by that blood if they would embrace the gift of Christ's salvation. It was amazing news to several of them.

The memory of the day that stands out the most for me, though, was my time with Becky, Christy's twin sister. She'd obviously been wrung out emotionally and I went into protective "big sister" mode. I stayed close while her husband greeted people and helped her Mom.

At first, I was in my wheelchair and Becky, who is tall, was crouched down beside me talking. Then, she sat down on the floor. She looked so comfortable that I decided to join her on the floor. Lucy took advantage and hopped into my chair. Tony came in from changing his clothes for work to find the dog in the wheelchair and two sniffling women on the floor, sitting Indian style. The conversation, the setting, the tears, the normalcy of girl talk while sitting casually...they all led to a beginning of healing. That is how God little moments, not just in big grand happenings.

The rest of the week passed in a blur of meetings with the tax attorney (yep, we're being audited, but almost have it resolved), grocery shopping and celebrations of July 4th. I tried to take it all in, but found myself again focusing on the little moments that made up the larger chunk of time.

It's late and I'm tired, but I want to close with one final thought: Don't miss the small moments. It's when God's still small Voice often speaks the most clearly.

Rolling Along....