Tag Archives: justice

Keeping our eyes on Medicaid & Medicare

In just a week our lives have been turned into that of spectators watching a magic show. We know the actor is performing a trick right in front of our eyes. We know that if we get distracted for a second, he can pull it off.  In this first week chaos of  immigrant banning, Mexico insulting,  government job firing and threats against urban culture, we could miss some huge moves.

In a NY Times op-ed, Gene Sperling,   an economist and former Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy under presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: “If Donald J. Trump decides to gut the basic guarantee of Medicare and revamp its structure so that it hurts older and sicker people, Democrats must and will push back hard. But if Democrats focus too much of their attention on Medicare, they may inadvertently assist the quieter war on Medicaid — one that could deny health benefits to millions of children, seniors, working families and people with disabilities. Of the two battles, the Republican effort to dismantle Medicaid is more certain. It would take only three Republican senators thinking twice about the wisdom of block grants and per capita caps to put a halt to the coming war on Medicaid. DON’T MISS THIS.” …..continue

What determines sanity

At the core of anyone’s sanity is the issue of knowing and recognizing the truth. Our political “situation” now is affording us the opportunity to witness what happens when someone with high visibility abandons the truth. As black people who have experienced constant racism, we know all too well that we are held to a stricter standard than our white brothers. Not only is the truth overlooked when it comes to us and not only is it crucial that we adhere to every tiny detail of situations in order to be able to defend our truths, but even after that, the truth is often overlooked, suppressed or shut down when it comes to us. We are seeing how the dominant culture is bending, stretching and altering the dictionary in order to avoid calling the dominant political figure a liar. If he is not lying, then he may well be courting mental illness. Distorting the painful truth knowingly is lying. It is not “alternative fact” making, It is not avoidance of facts, it is lying. However, when people knowingly lie like we are seeing – in counting crowds, in recounting other people’s reactions, in stating intentions to one group and then stating the opposite to another group. If it is not a fact, it is a lie. If it is a fact, we can all prove it. We can all attest to it. We can all agree to it. If it is not true, but is so painful that the person’s ego cannot stay intact and accept it, then we call it delusional. It is a mental health problem. It deserves compassion but with treatment, not with collusion.

What about if this new president truly can’t see the truth? What about when someone’s brain filters out the real facts and replaces them with fiction that makes them feel better? Then that’s an altered reality and that’s a mental health problem. It is psychosis. It causes them to strike out against enemies that others don’t see. It causes them to harm others unfairly. By now, most blacks know that when unfairness gets handed out, it is usually aimed at us.

Why does it matter? The highest office in the land and any position of power, judgment or decision making which puts one human being in charge of or in control over another requires that person to be clear, accurate, temperate and an excellent decision maker with an understanding of the available options and their long term and wide ranging impacts. A person who does not read books, listen to the opinions of those with more knowledge than they, set limits on their own needs and advantages and who cannot see their own limitations and the gifts of others, is not the right person to lead others. We hold responsibility to educate ourselves before we follow someone. It is embarrassing and concerning (to say the least) to watch a person careening towards disaster and taking a whole country with them.

From a position of compassion, it is understandable that for someone who has nothing to lose by putting themselves out there as the expert, the chief thinker, the “only one” who can help people with their situations,  they can only carry with them those who do not use their own discernment to make a sound choice for the people following them. You can often see people stuck in their childhoods at the point where their development was halted by trauma or great tumult. They are children in adult bodies.  They talk like children, make choices like children and react like children but they may exercise the power of adults. Money only makes it easier to disguise their emotional delay. Language, mood and extremism reveals it.

When we witness someone out of control like this, it seems kind to give them the benefit of the doubt but we have a responsibility to those that we are individually responsible for, to make a choice that protects our own. We see this in abusive relationships, where the mother stays in a relationship and attempts to explain away her abusive, immature spouse’s rants and loss of control. She may feel sorry for him when he falls back into  his pitiful stance after ranting and expressing violence. She may make excuses and want to “give him another chance”. She may do this for years as her children are frightened into silence and lose the self esteem they need in order to recover from their exposure. They may lose respect for her as well as themselves.

Already, we hear people starting to make excuses for this new president.  The Women’s March on January 21st, 2017 proved that millions of people all over the world recognize that there is a problem in our American family. From their histories, ancestors, political experiences and intuition, they KNOW that what is happening in the United States right now is not normal. They recognize the lies and know that lies have meaning and create damage. They recognize that survival and peace is more important than race, than money and than advantage.

Just as you do with that mother who is afraid to leave and is perhaps addicted to being needed though abused, you can’t wait for her to realize her power. You can’t wait for her to see her value and the value of truth. You are so proud for her when she steps up to the plate and takes a chance on herself. The antidote to fear is taking a chance on yourself and seeking like -minded people with whom to move forward. Silence only increases your feelings of frustration and hopelessness. Join MoveOn.Org in their 100 days of action to help get us out of this bad presidential relationship.

The Women’s March – Were you there?

Washington Womens March January 21, 2017 Getty Images
Washington Womens March January 21, 2017 Getty Images

Saturday, January 21, 2017 – the marches in Washington, DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver,  and hundreds of other places throughout the United States and the world illustrated the power of validation. An estimate 4.6 million in the United States alone marched without one reported arrest to show that they are WOKE, that they see the travesty that has occurred, that they won’t allow it. So many women and men, have been shaken by the election of a mysogynistic, narcissistic, racist, money and power driven business person to the highest office in the United States.

Even women voted for this man who is an admitted sexual predator. (But we are sure many of them have already come to regret their short-sightedness.) The fact that this happened illustrates that America has lost its moral footing, its judgment and its focus. That America is us. The fear, is that we will pay a hefty price for this error in judgment. We would not give the keys to our cars to such a person. But we have given him the keys to our country. The marches on Saturday were a good example of great reality testing on the part of the folks who voted or would have for one of the other candidates; and buyer’s remorse on the part of those who voted for Trump.

There were so many wonderful signs of hope the marches showed us: the solidarity between women of all walks of life, all races, all ages. In NYC, there seemed to be as many marchers over 50 as there were under 50. The men were there in healthy numbers. The young children seemed thrilled to be part of the larger human family while learning valuable lessons about democracy and participation. The signs were brilliant, funny and to the point.  If you felt isolated, out of sorts or overwhelmed with pessimism about our future, you felt better after experiencing the march. If you were not there (and it was an overwhelmingly white crowd in NYC) you will feel better by getting involved now.

Exercising the power that you have (your vote!), your calls, your letters, tweets, emails, signs is a way to feel better, empowered and not a victim! Go for it! Don’t sulk, call. Don’t take to your couch, unless you’re sending emails at the same time. Don’t complain, Do something.  People around the world, including Antartica (!) took to the streets. You are in good company and as a group of people who may well have more at risk than most others during this administration, we have no reason or excuse for personal inaction.

Everywhere that we have interacted with professional mental health colleagues, we hear the same words: “psychopath, sociopath, narcissist”. All these experts in mental health functioning and behavior cannot be wrong. When we look at the history of mass human tragedies, we hear those same words: “psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists”. Democracy and freedom needs you!

You go where you look…….

There was only one way down....
There was only one way down….
Years ago, the last time I went skiing, I found myself at the top of a mountain in Colorado —at the head of a black diamond (for experts only) trail. I was on the wrong trail! My ski skills are barely good enough for the bunny slope. Needless to say, I was filled with terror. How in God’s name was I going to get down in one piece? To make matters worse, the sky had turned deep gray, a fog had rolled in and the temperature had dropped.  A fellow student from the afternoon’s ski lesson was with me.  She was twenty years younger and a lot better skier. The slope in front of me was a steep vertical drop, covered in ice. The flat area we stood on was only eight feet narrow, dropping thirty feet into a brush filled ravine on the left and a rocky stream bed on the right.  With the next (occupied lift chair descending towards us, we had no choice but to push off the tiny landing pad.

I tried to remember every ski tip I had ever heard: bend knees, lean forward, tuck in elbows. I was terrified of both of my choices. If I lost control and sped to the left, I I could  visualize myself landing in the tops of the spiny trees with limbs piercing my body. Or my other choice, to the right, and then falling into the creek bed & into the icy water.  Flying along, on bumpy ice, the more I kept my eye on the ravine, the faster towards it I sped.  As I approached the edge, my friend yelled, “Look over here!”. As soon as I turned, she reminded me, “You ski where you look. Remember?! Look straight ahead!” My path changed. I stared ahead at a woman in a full length mink & hat posing on the plateau down ahead of us. (It was one of those black ski events.)  Anyway, guess where I “went”? And yes, she went down with me, fur a-flapping & cursing all the way.

Anyway, when I hear a mother saying to her three year old, “The police are gonna come get you” or “I’m calling the police on you” or “You’re gonna spend your life in jail”, it causes me to wonder if it narrows that child’s vision to some calamitous path. Does it steer that shape-ready genius, that each young child is,  towards seeing themselves in the waiting criminal justice system.  I know that the brain retains everything. Some things are kept right at the surface. Other ideas are stored in the unconscious.  Think about other mothers, who play subliminal tapes to their sleeping children. Tapes that say “You are going to become a doctor” or “You will be a famous athlete”.  The unconscious mind would store that, too.

If we ski where we look, as long as we maintain the “right form” to steady our balance, we can fly through the snow to a comfortable and exciting landing.  It helps if we are on a safe trail and we’ve been taught the “right form” that we’ve been able to practice.  In terms of skiing through life, and your kids envision their futures in the frames  we parents shape for them, how easy would it be to steer our kids toward the positive? They’re going to have some target in mind. Why not say, “Hey, kids! Look over here” and show them how great their futures might be? Don’t push it. It can’t be your direct order or your threat. It has to be your excitement and optimism that  sparks them to consider it – to put their eyes on it.  If we show kids our confidence in the positive possibilities rather  than the weakness of our  fears, they will fall under the magic of simply skiing toward the future that they  are keeping their eyes on.

Trumpin’ for domestic violence

bl woman cartoon pulling hair outA recent article in the Huffington Post pointed out something that many victims of domestic violence have been thinking; that Trump’s personality and behavior are characteristic of the abusive partners  they’ve had. The article was sent to me by a client who felt Trump was a good example of an abusive spouse and for her as for the women the Huffington Post talked to, watching him was triggering the feelings associated with the trauma from which they were escaping.

And we elect him for president, because he sounds strong and we want change? Maybe that makes us wishful dreamers that are hoping for help when we feel like we have no control over our lives. As many know, the first step in  helping an abused woman out of a relationship, is not just helping her to see that her partner is dangerous to her survival. It’s helping her to know that there are other choices, that she can do for herself what she is wishing someone else would do for her. Showing her that her mind, her skills are enough. Especially, it is important for her to accept the truth of her situation. In abusive relationships, the perpetrator works his weak spell by convincing his partner that she needs him alone, that she is weak and unable to take care of herself. This psychological imprisonment is as effective as real imprisonment.

When Trump declared that only he could save America from “the system”,  that we need protection and only he could save us, alarm bells went off in the minds of many listeners. Angel Marie Russell wrote on her Facebook page, per the Huffington Post, ” Trump is triggering so many abuse and rape victims, including me”. “His behavior is almost exact to my abusive exes. It’s terrifying. I can’t even watch him.” But watch him we must.  And as with all crazy-making behavior, we have to pay attention not just to what he says, but more importantly, to what he does.