March 27, 2010
No one actually wants change. Not really. If given the choice of changing or continuing the status quo (as long as it’s working for us,) none of us would CHOOSE change. Change requires new paradigms in perspective, new attitudes, shifts in behavior and constant adaptation. Good grief! It’s just too much work, right? Or is it?
Last week, I was in Washington D.C. attending an AAMFT leadership summit, where among other things, we visited the offices of our senators and representatives urging them to amend bills that would directly benefit Marriage and Family Therapists and their clients. In doing so we met with sharp young assistants who bring relevant issues to their bosses attention. What appeared to be quite intimidating on the surface was actually kind of fun. Guess what? Those offices are staffed with real people, who really do want to do their best jobs to serve fellow Americans. It gave me new appreciation for our system where the common person still has access to those who wield power. We presented our case, knowing that if enough people take the time to inform their elected officials things DO change.
While we were in the Capitol Building, we also visited the US Senate, just in time to see John McCain going on record to say that he and his state of Arizona were opposed to the cost of health care reform. He only had one real problem….no one was listening! Apparently the real action was in the House of Representatives, where everyone else was preparing to vote on healthcare reform. On Sunday night we watched the live vote on TV about five miles from the political action, feeling rather amazed that we were in DC when this milestone event took place. The rest is of course is history….and health care reform was voted to become a new law of the land.
Now, I know that there are many different ideas about this historical vote; but I am really not very interested in particulars today. I want to look at the bigger picture…because things have NEEDED to change. It is appalling to realize that 32 million Americans have lacked proper medical coverage; and most likely all of us have heard stories or known people who were bankrupted after running out of insurance coverage following a long term illness. Things needed to change; but many of those with good coverage have not wanted to rock the boat fearing they might lose the good benefits of privilege.
Apparently enough people said “we really need help”…because the wheels of change have began to turn. This isn't something new. It is the same process that occurred when women were given the right to vote. A similar path was experienced when legislation mandated changes in civil rights for Americans of all races and creeds. Of course there was griping, and complaining, but when the dust settled, people began to do things that influenced others hwo pushed the wheels of power in a new direction. Major events like civil rights, marriage rights, human rights, rights to vote, and now the right to have adequate health care, have all had some form of unpopular legislation that lead the way for change that would allow more people equal protection under the law.
And of course, there will be hundreds of different reactions… pro and con…and in reality many of them will last for years. It's good to remember that conflict produces change; And unless new voices insist on being heard, change will never come. Human beings tend not to choose change for change’s sake; So now we begin another process of adapting and refining the laws to reflect the changes that are needed….It will be hard work, but let’s face it, we usually need to be prodded to act on behalf of the common good....Which way shall we go? What shall we stand for? Is it worth the cost? When in doubt, perhaps we should ask a different question.......WWAD? (What would Abe Do?)