September 16, 2009

Who’s lying now?

Posted in Between Us column, Health, Relationships at 10:07 pm by dinaheng

“You lie!” shouted Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) during President Obama’s recent speech on health care reform initiatives to Congress.

The heckle that drew condemnation from both sides of the aisle has become a rallying cry for many who are fed up (and frightened) by the pace of change in Washington these days.dinah-eng-21

There’s nothing wrong with expressing our fears — it’s both therapeutic and healthy — as long as those fears don’t stop us from fixing the problems we all agree exist.

Some people fear that government has grown too big and too costly under a Democratic president. If you live in California, as I do, you could say the same about decisions made by a certain Republican governor who’s proved himself to be as inept as any manly man in political office.

As the 2009 legislative year ended in Sacramento, lawmakers went home with little progress to show on any issue. The state’s finances are in shambles, the war over water supplies continues, prisons are still overcrowded, and another politician (Assemblyman Mike Duvall, R-Yorba Linda) bites the dust after bragging about having sex with two women over an open mike.

When is it going to change? It’ll change when we stop lying to ourselves.  When we admit that we are all perpetuating problems by insisting that our opinions are the only ones that matter.

It’ll change when we stop demonizing other people, and see that their hopes, fears and interests are not separate from our own.

It’ll change when we embrace change, instead of fearing it.

We live in scary economic times, but we’re not in a depression. We’re not in the middle of World War III.  Hostile aliens have not landed, planning to obliterate us off the face of the planet.

My friend Christine, who used to work as a space biologist for NASA, told me a story the other day that illustrates what great management requires. She says she once worked for an executive at NASA headquarters whose mantra was, “Don’t bring me a problem without a solution.”

Can you imagine how much Congress, state legislatures and local governments could get done if they hewed to that kind of standard? Can you imagine what all of us would accomplish if we took that attitude to heart in our own lives?

The battle is not over health care and who deserves to have it. The battle is over whether we’re willing to do what it takes to make things better — for everyone.

And that’s the truth.

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