Monday, March 18, 2013

Unless and Until

Over two generations ago, a Swiss psychiatrist named Paul Tournier wrote a series of books connecting a faith response to matters of the human psyche and issues with which we all deal.  One of those books was entitled The Strong and the Weak.  Tournier described what we all know to be true, though we might wish it weren't.  We know that the victors write history and that the facts of it all may be regularly skewed.  We know that those in positions of power can speak their thoughts, even if they are prejudicial, and the result will be according to their desire.  We know that the strong can manipulate the weak, even gaining advantage from their plight, all the while blaming them.

But occasionally something happens that reverses a trend, at least in some small measure.  It happened last week.  Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) changed his mind and announced that he would no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act.  One might gather that he will now be on the side calling for the reversal of DOMA, which states that same-sex marriage is illegal.  And how did Senator Portman come to this momentous decision?  His own son came out as a gay person and the Senator and his wife began to rethink their convictions against gay marriage.  They want their son to know the happiness that others in committed relationships know.

So, let me see if I have this right.  Be against something until that very issue directly affects your own family and then it is appropriate for a change of heart to take place.  It's almost as though someone is saying that when it happens to me, it's different.

But why or how is it different?  Why do we stand as though our feet are stuck in cement and only move to extract ourselves from a position that touches untold numbers of people when we ourselves are so impacted?  It is as though unless and until we feel the pain, it just isn't that big a deal and other people don't count.  Can you imagine anything more revulsive and pathetic? And yet most of us are inclined to adopt that position.

Unless and until the power brokers have a family member directly enveloped by mental illness and with no way to treat it will we ever have a concerted effort to fix a terribly broken mental health system.  Unless and until our representatives have family or friends who are bankrupted by a devastating major illness will there ever be legitimate progress toward health care for all.  Unless and until our elected and national leaders are forced to send their own sons and daughters into war zones will we ever seek to curb the frequent rush to war that seems to be our national proclivity.  Unless and until we get "burned" by the pain visited upon countless others will our hearts be broken and then be motivated to "do something."

Unless and until.........and the really sad thing is, that time is probably never going to come.

1 comment: