Posted by Mike
Wikipedia reports that the expression “Going to Hell in a handbasket” is of unclear origin, but likely originated during the Civil War and means a situation headed for disaster. Being a long-term Democrat and finding all neoconservatives, Tea Partiests, and Sara Palin the embodiment of evil, you can see why I’m reacting this way to the results of the current election.
It’s not the first time, of course, that the national population has acted stupid. It’s bad enough for the denizens inside the Washington Beltway to behave insanely, but worse when the population at large gets flummoxed. I know – you think I’m overreacting; maybe even think that I’m completely wrong in my assessment. You know, of course, if you do feel that way that you’re one of “them”!
Just in my lifetime, as a nation we’ve done a lot of stupid things that have had profound effects, perhaps mainly affecting those outside our borders, but also ourselves. I’m thinking of wars in particular. We could cite the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and our recent engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can’t blame the Republicans for all of this, of course. Truman was at the helm during the Korean War, and Kennedy and Johnson were responsible for Vietnam (regardless of what the biographers say).
It’s really sad, too, how Congress is generally set to go along with the President when they are only too willing to agree to his declarations of war. Perhaps we should trust Presidents and their coteries more on little issues and less on the big ones, like making war.
During the current election hardly anyone mentioned the current wars. It’s like they’re the horse on the dining room table. We know it’s there, but we all agree not to talk about it. There was a lot of talk, as you know, from Republicans about “rolling back” what they call Obamacare. Personally, I work in a health-related field and review so many cases of individuals whose only health care source is the emergency room. The lucky ones can get Medicaid cards, but there are more people out there than you can imagine who just don’t have access to any health care. You can’t go to emergency rooms and receive adequate care for chronic diseases. It’s true that in some communities there are nonprofit and volunteer-staffed free clinics, but for the average person without funds or resources, they make do until they are in extremis. Sometimes it’s too late to do much for them.
It seems like it’s never mentioned, but I think everyone deserves adequate dental care too. The only free dental clinic in our area was recently closed due to lack of funding. I imagine it served only a fraction of those needing care. The average low income person is not able to afford the charge for even one filling, much less any kind of regular dental care.
I’m not suggesting that society should assume responsibility for taking over the lives of the people in it. I do think that we have an obligation to provide help to those who lack the resources and who are unable to help themselves. Sometimes what people need is information and access to prevention. I see this in conception prevention. Do we really have adequate information available to young people to prevent pregnancy? Young people learn all about sex from television at an early age as well as from each other. We need to be teaching them more about how to avoid conception, and the problems accompanying early and unplanned pregnancies. Obviously, we should also be teaching accountability and personal responsibility to children from an early age. Our society seems particularly deficient in such matters. I was reviewing a case file yesterday: the young woman was 25. She had five children. They were in the custody of others. She had already been in three drug rehabs, and is currently homeless, having left her court-ordered residential treatment program. Somebody was dropping the ball with this young lady; we can give her primary responsibility, but what was her mother doing? And the school (before she dropped out)? And her community?
I read our metropolitan newspaper daily. Without exception there is at least one shooting death in our inner city every day. The only person I heard mention guns during the election period was actually after the election. Mayor Blumberg was on a panel last night. In passing, he reported briefly on his major agendas, and included that he is “antigun.” Blumberg is an exception. Most politicians and mayors are so scared of the gun lobby to even suggest any tighter restrictions than the current regulations regarding gun possession.
Are we going to Hell in a handbasket? No, we’re not. If you look at a broad timeline, we are overall making progress, not only as a nation, but collectively worldwide as inhabitants of this vulnerable planet: Christians no longer burn heretics at the stake; we no longer accept slavery as okay, and African-Americans are no longer second class citizens – or worse – here in the United States; women have the right to vote and are taking their place as fully equal to men in virtually every work setting (maybe superior?). We have made tremendous strides in technology, in health care, in general understanding of how the world and society work, and in understanding the basic biological, chemical, and physical mechanisms upon which our technology rests. Nevertheless, we have a long way to go, and given the history of mankind, progress is going to be slow in furthering some basics, like true understanding, compassion for all, and generous provisions for the needy.