Archive for July, 2009

Our new beggars

Friday, July 31st, 2009

I was on my way to my acupuncture appointment the other day when I noticed an older woman sitting on the grass at the corner.

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Her hair was clean and combed, her eyes bright and attentive.

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She had on some makeup and clean clothes.

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I guessed she was in her 70s.

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She had an empty sack on the ground beside her. An empty soup cup and plastic spoon lay outside the sack. She was begging.

She was not the typical beggar, at least not what used to be typical.

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I figured she was one of the growing number of older folks whose Medicare just isn’t enough to keep them from having

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to sit at the street and beg.

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At her age she’d have a really hard time trying to find even part time work.

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We do not expect this in the United States.

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The robber barons are quickly turning us into a third world country.

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And those countries are in even worse shape, without food, without clean water, weakened by disease and the growing desperation that such conditions bring.

I am disgusted and ashamed at the greed evidenced all about us and what it’s done to those weaker and less well connected than themselves.

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Beware the lies meant to scare us away from universal health care

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

André Picard

Montreal — From Thursday’s Globe and Mail (click on the line for the full story)
Last updated on Thursday, Jul. 30, 2009 01:15PM EDT

Shona Holmes has become a central figure in the bitter debate about U.S. health-care reform.

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The Waterdown, Ont., woman is featured in a TV ad telling her tale of horror – how she had a life-threatening brain tumour but would have had to wait months for treatment.

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So Ms. Holmes remortgaged her home and flew to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona for treatment, paying $97,000 cash for her care.

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But a few important details are missing from the “commercial” version of this socialized-medicine-kills tale.

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Ms. Holmes did not have a deadly brain tumour, she had a benign Rathkes cleft cyst.

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Yes, she had vision loss, but it was temporary and reversible.

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This is not to suggest what she went through was not awful and frightening, but it was not life-threatening.

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[M]edicare – universal state-financed health insurance – means everyone is worthy of care and entitled to

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Why Efforts to Stem Foreclosures Are Failing

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
  • From Lita Epstein’s  article: 
    Unless the Obama administration figures out some combination of programs that will meet

    the goal of preventing more foreclosures, t here

    is little hope that housing prices will stabilize.

    That means even more homeowners will find themselves underwater and

    more will be tempted to walk away from huge loses. If banks don’t want to help, it’s time to spend bailout money

    to help Main Street rather than Wall

    Street.

    I agree.  I figure most of us do. We’re sick of helping the power brokers who have taken over the major institutions of our country and keep figuring out ways to defy reforms.

    Read the article by clicking here.

  • Mulberry

    Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

    I’ve been designing some courses I’d like to teach lately.

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    Musing on Joan of Arcadia prompted my thinking of Mulberry. It’ s a bitter

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    Mulberry, the Cockney son of De ath

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    and Springtime, appears for a household job one day with no references.

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    He sweet talks his way into the home of the dour old Miss Farnaby.

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    Instead of immediately taking to “the other side,” as Mulberry has been assigned, he and she manage to develop a unique kind of love over several months.

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    Despite the consternation of her staff, Miss Farnaby manages to blossom like spring under the tutelage of the mysterious Mulberry. She in fact becomes an embodiment of Springtime, Mulberry’s mother, in the near-death body of an old woman, a human bridge between life and death, just as Mulberry is a spiritual bridge between the two—a key paradox that has characterized life on earth from the beginning.

    Again I am fascinated by the profound theological and psychological implications of this series and its lessons about learning to live, and love, even though death is ever-present.

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    If we fail to grasp this paradox, we fail to live fully. And, we fail to embrace death. Learning to balance both aspects of being is key.

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    What if God Was One of Us

    Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

    So the title song from the prize winning CBS television series Joan of Arcadia (2003-2005) begins. Taking seriously, and creatively,  the core belief that God becomes human in incarnational

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    theology, the series writers have God appearing in various human guises to a young woman, Joan, who promised God that she would do anything if he allo

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    wed her brother to survive a car wreck.

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    Paralyzed from the waist down, the young man survives, testing the family in ways they’ d never expecte

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    This, thank God, is a functional, rather than dysfunctional, family (what we usually see).  They communicate, even though it’s difficult when the issues are threatening.  They love one another and manage to keep the family intact, despite the tests that come at them from every angle.

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    Appearing as a young girl wearing bee antennae, an old lady with glasses, a transient, a teenage boy, and so on, God tests Joan by asking her to perform tasks that seem trivial, confusing, and even contradictory.

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    However, they always end up improving the larger situation, for the repercussions of our actions and

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    If we fail to reach out and take risks, we won’t make the connections that benefit us all.

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    Syfy channel has been re-running this series lately, so that’s how I was reminded.  I wish it hadn’t ended because there was so much more they could have been done with it.  If we pay attention, God–or God’s messengers, if you prefer–do come to us, calling us to do good and be hopeful.  The positive message about the necessity of sticking together first as a family, and then as the larger family of those around us, is especially vital in troubled times like ours.  We will survive–and thrive–if we keep this in mind at all times, especially when

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    Our current financial debacle

    Friday, July 17th, 2009

    From an article in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi on what Taibbi believes has been going on behind the scenes:

    If you want to understand how we got into this financial crisis, you have to first understand where all the money went — and in order to understand that, you need to

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    understand what Goldman has already gotten away with. It is a history exactly five bubbles long — including last year’s strange and seemingly inexplicable spike in the price of oil. There were a lot of losers in each of those bubbles, and in the bailout that followed.

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    I’d like to believe that such strings haven’t been pulled, but my own experiences with whistle blowing have made me pretty cynical  about various institutions, including, but not limited to,  banks and insurance companies.

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    Read the rest of the article by clicking here:Rolling Stone

    Michael Jackson

    Thursday, July 16th, 2009

    I hesitate to say much about Michael Jackson’s death except that it’s such a great tragedy to lose someone with so much talent, someone we’ve watched grow from childhood.

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    We’ve all heard of his family and friends’ failed attempts at intervention.

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    Too often that’s the case. The system tends to protect the status quo.

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    Those who try to change things have a hard time. The addict, especially one so well connected and wealthy as Michael Jackson, can all too easily get what he wants and protect himself, even from well meaning family and friends.

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    Typically, he shuts t

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    hem out and keeps them away so he can go on with his addictions.

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    A traumatic experience can trigger such unhealthy behaviors.

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    We wonder whether better care, with counseling, after this event might have prevented Jackson’s addictions.

    We’ll never know, but this speaks to me as a therapist/coach of the importance

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    of seeking good counsel right away before things spiral out of control.

    Regarding Health Care Reform

    Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

    David M. Walker writes:

    Over the past three decades, other developed nations have done a much better job of keeping their health care costs

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    Virtually all of our major economic competitors in the developed world already provide universal coverage, and they do so for about $3,500 per

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    person every year – half that of the United States’ $7,000 per

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    Those differences are reflected across the board here in much higher hospital costs, doctors’ salaries, pharmaceutical prices and administrative costs.

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    Health Care Reform

    Peter G. Peterson Foundation

    Eat leafy greens to avoid skin cancer

    Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

    “In people with a history of squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, a diet high in leafy greens was associated with a reduced risk of another round of the disease.”

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    Good Counsel: the Middle Way, the Golden Mean

    Monday, July 13th, 2009

    My mind is al ways

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    making connections between the small world, the microcosm, and the bigger world around us, the macrocosm.  Everywhere I see fragmenting and warring with others whom we perceive as not like us, whether in religion, race, class, nationality, gender, orientation, whatever.  I see many people reflecting a similar war within themselves.

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    They have not done the hard work of integration.

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    If we are to have peace within and peace without, we must moderate our warring drives and ideologies and seek a path of moderation.  We must listen more carefully and learn follow the middle way.

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    The classical scholar Kitto, I believe, said the Greek philosophers did not arrive at the notion of the golden mean, or middle way, because they saw so much of it.  Rather, they valued it because

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    they saw so many extremes around them.

    So today.  Would that we could stop shouting “You’re a Republican!  Or “You’re a Democrat!  You have nothing valuable to contribute.”   We further fragment our society, and ourselves, when we encourage such factions.

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    Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

    In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.

    more...