‘Til it happens to you, you don’t know
How it feels
How it feels
‘Til it happens to you, you won’t know
It won’t be real
No it won’t be real
Won’t know how it feels”
~Lady Gaga, Until It Happens to You”
The country is divided, picketing, marches, passionate advocates, mean tweets, slander, racism, bigotry, fear, arguments about equality, privilege, and healthcare are the back drop. Does this sound like narrative to a post global war book or film? An early episode of the tv series the Walking Dead? You bet it does. The sad reality is that it IS the reality of the United States. Our harsh, cruel, scary, twisted reality of 2017. Yes, I said 2017! We have the advantage of technology to fuel our arguments, passions, beliefs, and suffocating 24/7 news (sometimes FAKE) news feed. One of the biggest topics fueling the world of Washington is healthcare. You are either for the Affordable Care Act, or you are eager as a kid on Christmas morning when you see/hear a member of the GOP speak of “Trumpcare.” (Cue Paul Ryan in a Santa suit…creepy isn’t it….)
You might have already deciphered which way I am partial to by my underlying cynicism in the above statements. I avidly read up on all issues pertinent to politics in the law and could argue why I feel the way I do. Instead I will put it simply in layman’s terms (and use something my Papa taught me years ago.) “Put yourself in another person’s shoes before judging them.” It’s simple, follows my beloved character Atticus Finch’s mantra, and why I align myself politically the way I do. Until something happens to US directly, it can be easy to overlook how debilitating something can be. Then it, that awful thing does happen to you (or someone you know.) Job loss, cancer, death, bankruptcy, sexual assault, heartbreak or I could keep going. Then we care, we rally, we advocate to something we believe in. Something that has effected us directly. People of privilege use their platform to help the cause at hand. The news today is swirling with reports of late night talk tv comedian, Jimmy Kimmel and his raw, vulnerable, on air speech about his newborn’s son life saving surgery-and how passionate he now feels about healthcare being available to ALL new parents. (cue the clapping!)
A healthcare hell of invasive surgery I would wish on no parents. I hate hearing stories like this. Who does? I am elated to hear that baby Kimmel is doing very well. I am further elated that Jimmy Kimmel used his platform of a white, cis, wealthy, celebrity status to put a face to the healthcare debate going on in Washington. (We know he could afford the surgery, but he saw beyond his story.) He humanized something people are arguing about, mean twitting each other about, friends aren’t speaking to each other about (still) post election recoil, and he did it with the raw vulnerability of a new parent. Any parent I know would trade their own life to have a healthy child. He used his platform to put face to the fact (and something he realized) that there might be another family with the exact same situation….without the proper healthcare to save their baby if “Trumpcare” goes through.
I’m hoping for those that didn’t get the passion behind this had a slight aha moment. I hope that those not understanding the passion, activism and more reflected on this thought. What would they do in that situation with no healthcare? Humanizing something that horrifically happens to us makes us connect, reach out, reflect, and understand. I admit to carrying around guilt about not “caring enough” about causes I was not aware of. Ignorance can be a catch-22 of bliss. I have a laundry list of things I was not aware of (fully) or in action towards. I will annually run a 5K to support a local (and acquainted) family I know that lost their oldest son to childhood cancer. I feel for them. I read up on what companies discriminate against LGBTQ communities and do not purchase their items. I think of my friends in this community. I even have a streak of teal in my hair as advocacy against sexual assault, as a survivor, inspired by those who were using their platform to raise awareness. People I now call my friends.
We need people like Jimmy Kimmel to put a face where we cannot. We need reminders that we don’t walk in everyone’s shoes and cannot possibly understand their sorrows, fears, and quest for equality. We also need to live in a world without so much fear. I have the fear. I just found out that as a sexual assault survivor, I am consider to have a “pre existing” condition that could deny me healthcare if the big, bad, “Trumpcare” goes through. I took necessary medication called Truvada post assault to prevent the horror of contracting HIV from my assailant. Therefore, from my understanding of what I read, I may have to prove I’m HIV or AIDS free for up to three years to obtain insurance if the ACA is overturned. If this happens, should a future assault survivor turn down the medication and just “risk it” in terms of contracting something? (Seriously, Justin Trudeau and Canada keep looking better and better…)
My what a slippery slope those who side with perfection of health, wealth, privilege, and well….what rhymes with orange undertones, pave!
Where do you fall on the slope? What has happened to you that could be deemed “preexisting?” Let’s face it death and taxes are the only things certain in life (oh wait, the last one doesn’t apply to the very person selling us on this kool aid of health care.)
We deserve to be healthy. We must understand what it is to walk in another’s shoes. We must use what resources we can stand on to advocate for what is right. We must have activism. We need people like Jimmy Kimmel to stand up and put a face to, have us walk in their shoes, humanize, and understand the importance of things. We need more of this.
Thank you, Jimmy. You used your tragic, real life happening to bring many of us back to reality. We needed that.