Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Getting without Giving

The following came to me in an email. I have included the comments by the young doctor and my thoughts on his concerns.

Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes, and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ring tone.  While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as "Medicaid"!

During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer. 

And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman's health care?  I contend that our nation's "health care crisis" is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses.  Rather, it is the result of a "crisis of culture", a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. 

It is a culture based on the irresponsible credo that "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me." 
Once you fix this "culture crisis" that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.

It is worth the read - but how many others did he work on who don't have all the flashy stuff and would not go to the ER for treatment because they know they are not insured. There must be an "in between" a way to treat people who need health care and maybe a way for them to give back to society for what they get.

Years ago in one of my first sociology classes we talked about giving assistance while requiring something in return. The prof talked about how it is unethical to give with strings - consequently, if I give money to a panhandler (for instance) I no longer tell that person how spend it so if it goes to booze the values of the person remain paramount. As I age, I see that I would like to have strings or accountability attached to some things. But food, shelter, health care, safety are basics. No one should go without - nor should everyone get palatial housing, gourmet meals or expensive and extensive elective surgery/treatment.

As a society, we need to struggle with this. So, I am going to blog this. I will leave the doc's name off.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dinner for One

When I was young and single, I cooked for one -- when I cooked which was not all that often. Then, when first married, I cooked for two. That was an experience because all I knew how to cook was roast beef, baked potatoes with lots of butter and sour cream and green beans. Eventually, I learned a few other things to cook that were less expensive.

After my divorce, with a small son, I cooked little meals made up of the meats and vegetables I bought from Bell’s Market that was a few blocks from my home. I made just a small salary (not much has changed there!) and the wonderful butchers at the market offered me meat at discount prices if I came on Saturday afternoon when the meat might spoil before Monday because stores were still closed on Sundays in those days. I could feed the two of us on $5 per week! And we ate well - lamb chops, steaks, good cuts of beef and fresh chicken and fresh veggies! Amazing!

In my second marriage, my husband brought five sons and I one, so we had six boys who needed to eat three meals each day. I learned to make menus and follow them to the letter. They were posted on the refrigerator: Monday through Sunday: breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks. The kids learned that if food was a snack, they could eat it, otherwise, it was part of a meal they would eat during the week. My cooking improved. As we grew into our more married life, we joined AAUW or church dinner groups as my cooking branched out to the more exotic, I became known as a good cook.

Now, six years into widowhood, I rarely cook a meal for myself. Cooking for one is so tiresome. I have a book or two about cooking for one, but some nights I am not home to do that and I skip a meal or eat food that is not interesting. Part of the result of skipping meals or eating on the run is weight gain that could rob me of good health. To help with the weight, I exercise six days each week. And, when exercising alone was not successful at trimming the weight, I rejoined Weight Watchers.

This morning at my 7AM WW meeting, I complained about having to cook for one and how all recipes seem developed for 4 or 6 or 8. I decided that something could change - I could invite people who are tired of cooking for one to come to my home this Friday (the 25), bring a dish to share that they cooked for 3 or 4, and eat with me. We would make new friends, have a different type of supper and get out of a rut.

Sometimes, God-things come in packages that look unusual. Sharing a meal with friends is a Godly thing - Christians celebrate communal eating each time they have communion. We will see how this turns out. I won’t give out my address, but if you are interested in joining this supper gathering let me know by responding my Facebook link. I am bringing tabbouleh and some kind of meat.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gratitude and God

Yesterday morning I drove form my home to Sayre PA to participate in an East Central District (DOC) pulpit exchange. The trip was about an hour and 15 minutes, and it poured all the way. I left home early enough to arrive at the church after making a stop or two to pick up cat food.

I arrived at church and sat through an enjoyable service - my preaching was toward the very end of the worship service. While we sat and listened to music and prayed and communed, the rain changed to the promised snow, coming down as though still rain and making the roads snow-packed, but passable, in short order.

As I drove out of the church parking lot, I asked one family if it would be wiser for me to go home through New York and was told that Pennsylvania Route 6 should still be easily passable at this time in the storm. After driving south on PA Route 220 I turned west onto Route 6 still 40-some miles from home. Still in snow that fell at the rate of about an inch an hour. Roads quickly were snow-packed with no plows out yet.

Early on Route 6, I passed a van that had gone off the road while going west (my side) and seemingly had knocked down an electric pole. Another car had stopped, so I continued going home, aware that the roads must be quite icy for this vehicle - much larger than mine - to end up in a ditch. I kept my speed at about 30, using gears rather than brakes to slow me down when I needed to be traveling slower. There was not much traffic out, but I did not expect much on Sunday morning at 11:30.

When still 35 miles from home, I drove up a hill preparing to go around a curve and down the hill when a car, already around the curve, pulled abreast of me and I could barely see the driver turn on the car lights. I thought I should slow down, perhaps there were deer on the road and I wanted to be going slow enough not to have to use my brakes (I am a Colorado driver and I don’t stop going up a hill or jam on brakes going down). Even as I write this, I get shivers.

As I rounded the curve and started my descent a large pickup - the kind of pickup with four wheels in the back - flipped over and rolled several times, landing on its side. All that went through my mind was that had I not seen that car, had I not slowed down, had I had to jam on brakes to stop, I would have been under that truck when it landed. I stopped, shaken, and saw a pickup that was immediately behind the flipped vehicle empty itself of about six men all dressed in gas-company-red overalls. They ran over to the flipped truck, and helped one man get out.

As I had nothing to offer that was not already available, I did not stay in that place where cars behind me would have crashed into me, but continued on my way. Shaken, I was filled with gratitude and prayers of thanks to God that I was not the vehicle under the one that crashed, and that the one man I saw emerge from the vehicle was apparently unhurt.

Shaken and overwhelmingly thankful, I continued my journey and flashed my lights at all on-coming cars to alert them of the accident, until I was far enough away that flashing would be unproductive.

As I continued west toward home, I saw yet another vehicle off the road, with help already there. Much closer to home, twice I met emergency vehicles with flashing lights probably on the way to help others on the snowy roads, since the vehicles I had passed were too far from Wellsboro to receive help from our borough emergency vehicles.

This snow, the most we have had at one time this year (measuring 16 inches on my back deck) has slowed us all down, and I think has given us yet one more way to help those who are in some kind of need. Out shoveling this morning, I learned that the mystery person who plows my drive, had done so before I tried to shovel a path toward the garage or shovel the walk for our mail carrier who will come later today.

In some way to repay the kindness of the man plowing and many other kindnesses, I look for ways to offer assistance to others. I cannot always help, but I see that many others also make the effort to help. We are community to one another on good days but especially on the more difficult days. We may not all be a Christian community, we may not all think of God, but we do think of “other” and that is a Godly thing.