Sunday, September 20, 2009

One Stone in the Pond

The Balinese people do not let their babies’ feet touch the ground until 105 days have passed. During this time, they believe that babies are still pure and close to heaven and that grounding the child’s feet could leave them prone to evil spirits penetrating their bodies and souls. They perform a baptism after the three months have passed by blessing the child head to feet and letting the baby’s feet touch the earth. At this point, the baby is now born and no longer attached to heaven.

I have always had a soft spot for this belief -- the idea that babies are still secured to the heavens -- not entirely our own but a sharing between the spiritual and natural worlds. When my boys were babies they would stare intently at nothing, their eyes peaking with purposeful gaze and I often wondered if their tiny eyes were fixed on the ghosts of ancestors.

The older I get the more I am curious about my own spiritual development and what there is to learn in this lifetime. Are both my feet firmly planted into this world or could I possibly unearth myself and float freely into another realm?

Sometimes, when I am alone with my own thoughts and weighted with concerns and worries, I try to imagine that this life of mine is a starting point for something else. What that is, I’m not quite certain, but I often think that everyday I have opportunities to explore, decisions to make and I have to be aware of the implications and consequences -- how my choices affect not only my life but the lives of those who intersect mine. I want to challenge myself to think in these terms -- the ripple in the pond -- that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

I’m not sure where I am going with this but what has me on this path is seeing a bumper sticker on a car -- a large, gas guzzling Ford F250. It read,

"Why Should I Pay For Your Health Insurance?”

I became quickly incensed. I am bothered that somebody might think this let alone shop around for a bumper sticker to declare this. Most people, like me, who have someone they love that is uninsurable aren’t looking for someone to pay for their insurance but rather compassion and understanding and options. I don’t expect anything free. Those in similar situations like me don’t either.

But those words hurt because they sounded like the shouts of a bully on a playground. “Why should I? Huh?” You know, the boy hurling the volleyball at your head or knocking you off a swing. As evolved, mature people, shouldn’t we demand more from ourselves and others -- to be more human and kind, not to behave in a perpetual state of arrested development?

We often talk about moral responsibilities and doing the right thing -- a popular chorus in politics. And yet when the rubber meets the road, some retreat and care only about how things affect them and don’t take into consideration how their actions impact others.

This truck also had a Jesus fish. Seriously, the irony there almost made me careen off the road. How on one hand can you say you’re a Christian and another place a childish taunt on your bumper -- a selfish, whiny and inaccurate holler? Why should I pay for your health insurance? Well, first, if you had been listening you’d realized that nobody is asking you to pay for my health insurance. Truth is you pay already every time an uninsured person shows up at an ER for medical treatment. If you pay taxes then your dollars go toward Medicare and state insurance programs -- which is health care. Nobody is asking this angry man in his truck to pay more -- what we want is reform -- to make insurance companies accountable and competitive and non-discriminatory and if they can’t be then they should be put out of business.

People rail about death panels -- walk a mile in my shoes and you might think that the death panels are actually the private health insurance companies who aren’t interested in health care but in profits and pleasing shareholders. An underwriter who sees Autism on my son’s application reads no further and reaches for a rubber stamp --the red inked DECLINE tattooed across the top of his application. In the eyes of private insurance companies my son has a scarlet letter sewn onto his chest -- a scar in the shape of an A = Autism = not worthy of insurance.

I am exhausted by the misinformation that is out there. When I am driving my autistic son to school and see a bumper sticker like this, I can’t help but think,

“Who will you answer to someday? How will you explain your anger? Your selfishness? Your ignorance?”

I want to stop that driver and introduce him to Sean. I want to tell him my story, that I am a mother who is trying my hardest to take care of my child -- to help him be all that he can. I want to tell him that what he so smugly sticks on his bumper affects me and others like me who want to believe that we live in a country that reaches out and pitches in and cares. I don’t want a penny from this man. What I want is something bigger than that, more valuable than coins or paper. It’s the currency of compassion and kindness and the generosity of spirit.

1 comment:

Vern said...

I am glad to hear that Sean is doing well in his new school. I miss Sean at Alameda...some of the para-educators and I still talk about him...he taught so many life lessons to those who met him, especially in a place where most people live in glass bubbles and rarely face adversity.

Sean has a purpose! And there was a reason why he got you for a mom, and Charlie for a brother (boy, what a unique and gentle soul!) and of course, Bob for a dad. There could be no other family more perfect for Sean. He is definitely a lucky young man.

Remember Katie...there are stupid people in all walks of life and groups. I could tell you stories upon stories...no matter white, asian, young, old, purple, and orange...there is ALWAYS someone ignorant who has not face much of anything.

I am sorry we never got to hook up this summer! I hope to be so lucky to chat with you in person one of these days. Just know, the Healys often think about you all!