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There is a lot that I might write about Senator Kennedy, but so many writers have gotten there before me, and I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, unfortunately, but I hope he might appreciate that I wrote this instead.He was a political hero of mine, and, honestly, I shed a tear this morning, I have to admit, although it was my mom that was the RFK liberal as a teen, and ever after and I grew up knowing only one "Bobby" and "Teddy"(it's probably her fault that I think Senator Kerry's accent is cute, actually.)

This is my first diary...please be kind. Also, I'd never have had this idea if I hadn't been worshipfully mainlining Special Comments for, dag, three years now, although I don't claim Olbermann's preppy flair and only a trace of his erudition...think of this as a Special Ed Special Comment.

Dear Senator Coburn:
Pretend I am your neighbor, although I'm not the hippie-dippy kind of liberal who's especially eager for all of humanity to pile up in some cosmic catpile, I know there are miles between me in the desert and you in Oklahoma(I'm not harshing on OK, James Garner is from Oklahoma and so was my grandfather, and I can picture them both calling you fourteen kinds of heartless idiot right now. It's kind of funny, if you'll excuse me...I need a laugh today with Senator Ted passing and all)
I'm your neighbor, and when I was born, something went terribly wrong.I don't remember that part--the siren-squealing part that so fascinates people when they first meet me. Sometimes I wish I did; I'm a writer and a first-hand account makes for a better story, after all, and do not imagine that your medical background exempts you from some appalling ignorance, the more comic examples being questiions like "Cerebral palsy? That usually affects children, doesn't it?" as if I started life as a goat.

But what they don't quite mean to say is that they don't quite expect me to be here, much less hoching them about side effects and such.I very nearly wasn't, and almost 36 years later, I'm still not sure how much that means.But what it means on the surface is that particular "miracle" comes with some pretty hefty strings attached.I can't walk or move from my bed to my wheelchair without someone's assistance,which means that there are thousands of other stupid things you do every day that I can't manage without a lot my mother hadn't fought for me like a titian, I wouldn't have gotten the education(or the guts) to challenge you on this.

It's still hard to get by, even with government support. How are my neighbors supposed to handle it? Especially the one who's over seventy with chronic respiratory problems who sleeps most of the day and is up at night because of her medication.Wait, I think I know what you'll say...a family member, right? Another one, because I'm already living with my mama, who, in addition to my impairment, must cope with my night-owl ways and taste for art movies.Well, maybe I can ask my brother. Although the downturn in his business means he's already working two jobs and having to juggle his civic involvements around all that.

My father started a new life in another zip code, so if it's more intense than a birthday card? I can't ask him. Besides, we all end up taking care of him eventually; nobody's sure how it happens.

Government support has huge flaws, which I would be willing to enumerate in another post, perhaps, but it has one distinct advantage. It's not a favor, Senator. Not something to squeeze in after the person's other tasks have been done, not something to be skipped if the charitable person feels tired, or like they have done enough that day, or if my attitude seems rotten, skimped on.  Flimsy as it is, that Medicaid waiver timesheet is the closest I get to a guarantee besides my mother's love.

Why not try to get real, "neighbor"?

Originally posted to chicating on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 09:38 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Our neighbor is someone in need (11+ / 0-)

      from MLK's Mountaintop speech:

      One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base....

      Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother...'s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked -- the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

      Some on the right use "neighbors should help neighbors" as a way of saying "not my problem". But, if they are Christian and want to be true to their religion, that doesn't fly.

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 09:47:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow. Good first diary. (9+ / 0-)

    It's hard to imagine that Senator Kennedy and Senator Coburn both (used to) work in the same building.

    Can you imagine what Senator Kennedy's response would have been to the crying woman?  Do a little thought experiment with that one.

    "You can never sink so low in life that you can't be a bad example for somebody." - My Dad

    by briefer on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 09:52:34 AM PDT

  •  And one presumes (5+ / 0-)

    that there are limitations, especially financial, to the neighbor-helping-neighbor position.

    Bible Death Scorecard: God 2,390,000 Satan: 10

    by A Runner on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 09:52:42 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, like Keith said... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, marina, Spekkio, Aquagranny911

      bake sales for nursing care? As if.
      Although I do have helpful neighbors...they just have their own problems, you know?
      Senator Kennedy would have made her feel better right away, I bet.

      "I fight authority...authority always wins."

      by chicating on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 09:59:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your point about (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snakelass, Spekkio, Aquagranny911

        helpful neighbors having their own problems is true and it is also interesting on another level.

        Since I am over 50 y/o, I remember a time when "community" and "neighbor" meant more than it seems to mean today. Frankly, I doubt that my neighbors on our small street even know the names of my two teenagers.

        The notion of neighbor, in the sense I have described, to me at least, is different today than yester-year.

        The gop seems quite content to be stuck in the past and the neighbor fallacy could confirm such.

        Thank you for the diary.

        Bible Death Scorecard: God 2,390,000 Satan: 10

        by A Runner on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:08:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, we've had the same neighbors for forty (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          years.  I'm sure they'd tell you that we're good neighbors.  Whenever they have a problem, we help them out.  When they leave in their motor home to spend six months in Florida, we keep an eye on their house.

          Are they able to reciprocate?  No.  One of the reasons they go to Florida is because the wife has an addiction to accumulating stuff and their six room house is so full of  the bags she's brought home from yard and rummage sales, that it's really depressing during the winter months when people have to stay inside.

          Neighbors are an ideal to which the reality rarely measures up.

          How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

          by hannah on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:33:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          I love the thought of community and wish I had more in my daily life, absolutely. There's nothing wrong with that until we get to the false "community good" "government bad" thing the righties always try to set up.
          Please don't think I'm anti-neighbor...I think that's great(or could be...HOA's are a different thing :))
          It's not a good replacement for real health-insurance, though.

          "I fight authority...authority always wins."

          by chicating on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:37:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Senator Coburn doesn't believe in government help (9+ / 0-)


    "Senator Coburn, my neighbor is gay and I don't want him to get married, will you help me?"

    "Senator Coburn, my 17 year old daughter wants to get an abortion, and I want to stop her, will you help me?"

    "Senator Coburn, I want to force all my kids' friends to pray in school, will you help me?"

    "Senator Coburn, I made untold millions last year and my taxes are too high, will you help me?"

    "Senator Coburn, I am CEO of a health insurance company, and we want bigger profit margins, will you help me?"

    My state is better than yours.

    by Keep Oregon Blue on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 09:52:59 AM PDT

  •  Right. I think what you're saying is charity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    sucks because it's fundamentally demeaning.  People who are into charity depend on getting something in return--i.e. they expect the recipients to debase themselves and express gratitude, even if the "gift" was totally inadequate and inappropriate.

    It might be of interest to you that in German "Gift" means poison.  You know, like that apple the evil step-mother gave to Snow White.

    Americans say, "don't look a gift-horse in the mouth." Which is another way of indicating that charity is to be distrusted.

    On the other hand, conservatives are relatively content with Medicaid and Medicare just because it serves an exceptional class.

    I'm glad that you, as a recipient, perceive the government benefits as a no-strings entitlement.  That's how the obligations on the part of the agents of government to provide for the general welfare are supposed to be met.  However, the reality is that the victims of less catastrophic insults to their health and well-being aren't being provided with similar support.  So, you're a special case, but, as typically happens, people who enjoy unearned benefits, are inclined to pass them forward and that's what you're doing here.

    Coburn, however, seems pretty much a lost cause.  Supporting a replacement might prove more worth-while.

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:18:39 AM PDT

    •  I wouldn't say strings-free... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, bablhous, Aquagranny911
      receiving that support has a toll, as well, especially in a "right to work" state over-run with talk radio me, it's given, but not with an open hand. For real.
      But one bit of angst and inequity at a time, huh?
      I have to work hard to feel that I deserve anything...glad I fooled you so well.

      "I fight authority...authority always wins."

      by chicating on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:30:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  another so-called Christian who (4+ / 0-)

    fails to obey the Great Commandment

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:22:31 AM PDT

  •  Very good diary, thanks. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Finally, let me just say as I've said to many (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    people, "it's a kindness to ask people for help and let them provide assistance."

    Many people just want to be needed and being a gracious recipient is a kindness.
    Many people feel a need to pay back a kindness they received from someone else who wanted nothing from them.  It's a kindness to facilitate their completeness.  It's a kindness to let people know how they can help; much kinder than expecting them to know and holding it against them when they don't.

    Being a recipient doesn't necessarily result in an obligation.  Many human relationships are triangular, rather than bilateral and memory makes it possible for us to transcend the limitations of time and space.

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:50:04 AM PDT

  •  Neighbors? I had those three job moves ago. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The same people pushing the whole kindness of neighbors thing are the ones who are pushing business uber alles. And big business has dragged people from their communities, separated family from extended family members, and destroyed neighborhood after neighborhood by closing and moving their businesses.

    If you grow up with people, and they watch you grow up, and you go to school with the kids who grow up to become your neighbors, spouses, in-laws, coworkers, etc., chipping in and being neighborly is pretty natural. But the guy who moved in to the apartment next door? Who replaced that couple who lived there for a year and a half? Who, in turn, replaced someone or other, but you don't know who because you weren't there at the time? How can you build those neighborly ties with him? Sure, you can try to make friends with everyone you live next to, but knowing that moving van will soon be coming for them or for you makes it awfully hard to commit to, say, changing diapers for the guy next door after he has a stroke.

    I've had nine next door neighbors in the past three years. A couple of them have a key to my apartment. Some of them never got a toe over the threshold. I can't imagine asking any of them to commit to a long-term care scenario for me, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow.

    This is the only world we have, and the other guy counts too. --Keith Olbermann

    by Heather in Carrboro on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 04:37:26 PM PDT

    •  Neighbors... (0+ / 0-)
      Yeah...I get where you're coming from, though I've lived in my current place for about ten years now, so I finally get what it's like to be aregular in certain local places and what-have-you, but I watched "When The Levees Broke" and when Spike Lee described the interconnections of black New Orleans, it made me sad, because I don't know what that's like.  I'd still recommend the film was awesome.
      I don't have neighbors like those.

      "I fight authority...authority always wins."

      by chicating on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 05:03:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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