Sometimes labels are helpful, even though they can be limiting. I tend to dislike labels, but can see the intelligence of having words with which we can sort things to make our lives and decisions easier. If I were asked, and were in an answering mood, I might say I was a conservative democrat, or perhaps a very liberal republican. I am a mother, stay at home as well as home educating. I am a wife; usually a good one, and a great cook, even though I hate to spend time in the kitchen. I am an environmentalist, an avid reader, a moody individualist, and an introvert who can talk your ear off, if I feel comfortable enough. I am strong, stubborn and overweight. I own more books than clothes, and am ever plotting how I can fit another bookshelf in the living room. But I digress…
A label that I have been mulling over as of late is being “civically engaged”. I read that approximately 40% of people in jails and prisons have had prior convictions and have had some type of mental issues that went unaddressed. In the past 4 fiscal years, states have cut 4.35 billion dollars in public mental-health spending. I also read that for every $2000-$3000 spent on treatment for the mentally ill saves $50,000 in incarceration costs. There never has been, or will be, enough money to help all those in need, but I believe in damage control, and pre-emptive spending seems a likely way to cut costs and improve lives.
I am reminded of those “well baby” visits we took The Historian to in her early years. It drove me crazy, dragging a perfectly healthy baby into a germ-infested doctor’s office on my husband’s one day off. She would get sick every. damned. time… 7 days later, like clockwork. BUT, I have a friend whose little girl was diagnosed with a tumor at the base of her brain stem during one of these well baby check-ups. After meeting her, I never looked at the doctor appointments the same way again.
What about our nationwide immunization program ? This costs our insurance millions of dollars a year, yet we support this legislation as a country because of the benefits to us, as a whole. When my father was a child, and he or a sibling contracted measles, they were quarantined in their home with a large sign on the door. They were probably unhappy with the imposed vacation, but were in compliance because it was about life and death, not freedom of choice. Our nation came together again, probably with some doubt to eradicate polio thru vaccinations, painful though they were. We have the ability to see what is good for us, as a whole, and work toward that common goal. I believe that we are all, to some extent, civically engaged. I think that most of us, if we put our differences aside, can come together again… this is our legacy, as americans, as humans.