The Gross National Debt

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Walking a mile in shoes that don't fit

Being from the Deep South (and proud of it) we have a saying which periodically infuriates me, even as I use it.

You ain't from here.

I have opined in the past that the statement is just a cop out, a refusal to accept change, new ideas and a possibly better way of doing things.

But that is not always the case. Here is the piece I read this morning which emphasizes "You ain't from here" is, without question, a valid statement and observation.

My musing this morning is not a commentary on health care, OsamaCare and the field of medicine in general. I use this instance of medicine as a jumping off point into a far broader scope of observations. Bear wimme.

A bit more on the medical matters - In addition to being graphic and more than a bit scary especially when it discusses how patient's diabetes hit him, it underscores, reinforces, points out and makes quite clear a veritable truth - You ain't from here.

As the patient in question got his diabetes under control while under direct medical supervision, the control ended when he left the hospital.

Telling quote: If you can’t buy heating fuel, you aren’t going to buy insulin,” said Dr. Lisa Dulsky Watkins, associate director of the program. “And if you can’t afford transportation, you’re going to wait until the last possible moment, until you’re really sick, to take a taxi to go to the emergency room. And that costs a lot.”

Yassee the problem yet?

Doctors, in a clinic or a hospital, have a telescopic view of the patient, the surroundings and the situation. They are very narrowly focused. I ain't complaining, I'm just stating a reality. The doctor doesn't know what kind of home life the patient has and likely doesn't want to know. Sides which, the doc is not willing to do much if anything about that home situation. Not willing, I say, I say. The doc could, but won't. But that's another story.

And there is much disagreement on HOW to treat a patient.
Doctors treat the symptom mostly, the actual ailment less, the whole patient almost never and absolutely never treat the patient's entire circumstances.

At the prison I preach and teach the inmates as much about living a better life as I do Jesus and salvation. I reason they already know God (I hope), but there is FAR more to the Bible than just religion and faith. The Bible contains massive amounts of practical instructions for living a better life, being a better human and rising above unfortunate circumstances.

I hope, in my talking to and with them, I give them tools to use to stay out of prison once they get out. We spend a lot of time on personal accountability and dealing with other people.

I know when they leave prison almost all will head right back to same situations they were in when they got busted.
Short of inviting them to live with me, I can't see anything more I can do to break 'em out of the cycle they are in. At some point they have to take some personal responsibility to break out.

But what if they can't? It's all well and good for you and me to sit atop a hill and pontificate about how they need to grab their bootstraps and start pulling, but that doesn't actually do anything to help.

The simple fact is some folks are really and well trapped and stuck and barring divine intervention, they don't have a way out. Sure, some of the choices they made and make may exacerbate the situation, but a lot is still beyond their control.

If the job market is tight already, who is going to take a chance on hiring a convicted felon? As more and more jobs require a defined set of skills, if the person doesn't have those skills, they can't get a job. Sure, they can go and get trained to do the job, but how do they live in the meantime? Groceries still cost money.
Until you understand the circumstances that surround a person, I question if you can really understand that person. I further question how you can pass judgment on that person.

You might be able to get close - Walk a mile in their shoes - but you've only spent a brief time in their world. What do you know about spending nights in a home with no insulation and only a space heater? What do you know about living with an alcoholic parent? What do you know about living with a disability? What do you know about living in a neighbor with a high crime rate?

Point your finger if you wish and say "Change!" but remember as you point a finger, four point back at you. Consider your own circumstances. Is everything in your life perfect and ideal? If it is not, then why don't you change things to make it better?

You ain't from around here. It's not a cop out this time. It's reality. There is always room for improvement, but getting that improvement may truly be impossible.

This is one of those times when I just don't have a solution.

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