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AlyoshaKaramazov had an interesting diary yesterday where he proposed that we share uplifting thoughts or stories that celebrate what we stand for as well as focusing on our problems. So here is my story ... I had started it and then just left it in the drafts because it is a little cheesy.

I had a birthday earlier this month ... the almost perfect birthday. I got cards and calls from my children and friends ... but my birth family ignored it so I did not have to be polite, do the pretty with them and then be upset all day. So it was a good day ... I got my hair done, my daughter took me and her ninth month old twins to the zoo in OKC and then to supper. It was low key and relaxed just the way I like to celebrate things.

When I turned 50, I went to a seminar on "Death and Grieving" and joined AARP. I thought it hilarious to thumb my nose at age and convention and say "Here I am! Fat, sassy and 50! Woo hoo

This time, I reached the magic age of 65 ... and my real celebration. I went to a Medicare first appointment ... and it cost me nothing, $0, zip!!! Then I got my prescriptions and those cost me $73.  Double woohoo! It was wonderful.

For the previous 6 years, I had been uninsured and paying out of pocket for my meds and my medical care. I worried every month about how things were going to work since my meds had been going up and up ... not because they were new meds but because the manufacturers could up the price whenever they wanted. It was such a relief to know that for a set amount (including the donut hole), I could rest easy about my medical care.  It was liberating ... I could make plans and even hope that I could achieve them. It was the best.

Then BOOM! Paul Ryan comes back to say that Social Security and Medicare need to be on the table for the government shutdown and the debt ceiling talks! Was that a downer ... just when you think you might be OK for a while, the Rethugs want to kick me behind my knees and bring me down. This wasn't so great.

Fortunately, the president and all the Dems held firm and that passed, for the moment.

Later, I was reading some around here and  I happened to really see the words "Social Security" ... and I had an epiphany. Social Security is not just the name of a wonderful program ... it is the vision of a people that want to secure their society by helping not only the young, the rich and the healthy to have a place but also to help the least of us ... the older, the orphaned, the differently abled ... to feel that we are a respected part of this society. It secures the cohesion of our whole society, not only by helping the least of us to shore up this nation rather than become discouraged and disgruntled "refuse" to be discarded as has happened but also by encouraging all of us to understand that we together are the society that needs to be secure, that we are in this together.

Those who advocate that private charity can take care of us "unproductive" people who are a drag on society" ... they are definitely not full of charity ... either private or public. Don't get me wrong, I believe in private charity; it can be good for both the giver and the receiver. But it does not make a person feel secure, much less does it secure our society. It is often a way to pass the buck or a "feel good, aren't I great" sort of thing ... it is not sustainable.

Then I realized that I am a product of this vision ... as an abused, shy girl child of color who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks (quite literally) I had very little hope of a life different from the stereotype. I distinctly remember my high school counselor telling me not to bother trying to get into college since I was just going to get pregnant and drop out, there was nothing else for me. But because of the wonderful programs to help disadvantaged kids, affirmative action and good luck, my life has been very different. I don't define my life by how much I have at the moment, but how full my life has been because of the vision that brought about the programs that helped to educate and transform me and therefore my children as well.  

The vision that struck me ... the vision of a society that thought enough of itself to try to make everyone a bit more secure, to respect that persons function better when they have self respect, to value the contribution of those whom most people consider "less" ... that is breath taking to me. We achieve fullness and strength by all of us being more "socially secure."

So despite Paul Ryan, the Koch brothers, the political games ... it was been a good birthday because I know that at one time, we had political leaders who fought hard for this vision and we can have them again. The vision is not perfect ...but it works well enough that the mean and petty want to destroy it just because they are mean and petty.

This is why I stay a Democrat, why I work for candidates I believe in, why I give money when I can and why I stay here reading about politics and staying informed.

Originally posted to CorinaR on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 08:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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