Tag Archives: The United States

I cannot remain silent

23 Nov

I have a friend who works at Fox news, and we have frequently been in long conversations about the state of The United States. In many ways we are aligned, but in so many ways we stand on opposite sides, and it’s friends like him that make me want to be silent.

For he is symbolic of many people that I care about and love; people who I would never want to alienate in any way. And while privately, him and I can hear one another out, I know that when you put your voice out there, in the public, when you choose a side, not everyone will stand with you.

However, I have decided that I cannot remain silent and observe the heart of our nation being broken – for that is what is happening. We are splitting in two, and it is ugly.

Every day I ride the C train and transfer to the A – the train that, in a recent interview, Lin Manuel Miranda said when casting Hamilton he wanted it to, “”look like what you see when you get on the A train to go to work.”

The train is all colors and all languages. It’s crowded, uncomfortable, and every day I witness beautiful moments. People of different races, and classes, existing together, moving through the city, and dealing with one another.

The homeless quartet whose harmony was so unbelievable I thought they were lip-singing to a recording; the corporate-looking ,frat-dude who was the only person to hand money out to the clearly disturbed, deaf, beggar; the elderly man who offered a pregnant woman his seat; the young black girls sharing their man problems and the elderly white lady turning to me, saying, “getting old isn’t so bad,” while smiling at them.

These moments warm my heart because it’s why I chose to come back to the U.S. after years of traveling; it’s why I chose to live in New York. To be all together, standing there, all just trying to get where we want to go.

And, I cannot be silent while I watch the underbelly of hatred bubble up and blanket our nation.

I know it was there before; that our country was built on slavery; that racism and sexism have been threaded throughout every iteration of our government, but something has broken open.┬áIt’s being released and is poisoning our air.

It is all of the anger and fear that we have been carrying. It’s people whose insurance premiums have been too high, whose jobs have been lost. It’s small businesses who are being broken by their taxes, it is those who feel like what they believe in, “their America,” has been stolen from them.

It is the inability to relate – it is the image of a plane flying into a building. It is looking at the, “other,” while gripping onto whatever you got, screaming “don’t take this from me.” It is the hand reaching out, grabbing, and saying, “and that’s mine too.”

It is the digital revolution that has stormed into our cities and broken down our every system, so that even our communication has changed – for who talks to each other anymore?

It is egoism, it is feeling wronged, it is sexism, it is everything that sits within the shadows that we all carry and we cannot let those those win.

And, I don’t believe they can. For in every story there is always a time of darkness, a time when the demons and devils rise – when hell is not a concept but a reality, and all hope seems lost.

The fight seems endless, the light far, and yet, it is in the breaking open, the other side, at the end of the tunnel, when the light hits your eyes so bright that it blinds you.

So, friends, loved ones, I will keep talking, and standing for the light – and I will never go silent, until I am extinguished, for I am not afraid of the dark.

Experiencing the United States Social Security & Healthcare System

3 Sep

Today I went to the Social Security office with my Mom because she’s planning for her retirement. The offices open at 9:00 am and we got there at 8:45 – there was already a line.

A uniformed man shouted that, “no food or drink were allowed inside,” so I chugged my coffee.

When our number was called the woman told us that we had to go to another office nearby. “This is a problem for the State,” she said.

My Mom looked like her mouth was full of sour lemons and her grey roots were showing. She kept saying, “see no one can help us,” but the fact is they can. It’s just incredibly difficult, especially for someone who has her own things to deal with.

My Father has now been sick for eleven years and each year he gets worse. This experience has taught me a lot about the United States Health Care system, Unemployment and Disability. What I’ve seen is both frustrating and frightening.

Ill people and their families have to wade through a convoluted labyrinth of programming and often there is no one to talk to, “it’s all online,” they say, but what if you’re 65 years old and don’t have an email address?

There are three hour wait times just to be called up to window to make an appointment for the next time or to get told that, “you haven’t been unemployed long enough to receive help.”

It takes 2-3 months to get any paperwork processed because, “they’re behind,” and personally it took my Father two years to get approved for disability, even though he suffered strokes, seizures, has a greatly depleted short term memory and walks with a cane.

And my Family is lucky. My Mom still somewhat holds down her job as a nurse, there are Roth IRAs and Annuities – there are safety nets.

However, despite any savings, how long does money last with medical expenses and no income? Why should people suffer for being sick, disabled, old or laid off? These things are hard enough unto themselves.

They divide families and deplete spirits.

I look around at the Social Security office, or the State office, and I see such anger and suffering. I see people of all colors and ages attempting to understand how and why they got there and what needs to be done to get out.

On our way to the office I hear on the morning news that the United States implemented a Drone attack on Somalia, trying to kill the leader of the militant group al-Shabab.

It all seems wrong to me. It’s a cycle of Defense, Attack, Protect, and here within, ill people are trying to navigate systems that are designed to be difficult so less are served.

I do think a huge shift is slowly occurring in our society; that the generation beneath mine is looking more toward healing, and I don’t think this shift can happen fast enough.

We on both an individual, societal, national and global level need to learn how to recognize our fears, and sit with them instead of always turning against the other. We need to, even on a small scale, look at how the communities we exist within help those in need, and not just assume that everyone who is receiving help is taking advantage of the system.

We need to evaluate what our nations our investing in and hold our leaders accountable because I guarantee the cost it took to build a Drone could also pay for someone’s much-needed operation.

Of course, I hope one day to exist in a world where we don’t need Drones or Bombs, but I am not so naive. Still, we are the United States of America, and yet we so rarely united on any issue regarding the internal care of our people.

I think all teenagers should be assigned a hypothetical income and problem, and then go through the system and attempt to solve it. They’ll see how it feels to be left waiting, clutching a number and being told, “no.”

Then these children will grow up and maybe instead of investing their knowledge in weaponry or material gain, they’ll be inspired to use their brains to create systems that will help heal the many families who live within our nation.