Dear Mr. President,
Tonight the onset of a minor sore throat has me slightly panicked. It is almost certainly just a cold. I'll drink tea and plenty of fluids and be fine in a few days. The thought that keeps lingering in the back of my mind, however, is about the enormous medical debt my sister once had after a case of strep throat. At the time she was uninsured and it took her over a year to pay off the considerable ER bills. I looked in to what it would cost to be added on to my mother's policy, or to buy my own insurance through my school. Either plan would leave me with a co-pay that I (more than likely) couldn't afford, and the premiums would be more than half of what I pay in rent each month. I know the arguments for having insurance; I want to have insurance. But I also like buying groceries. What I mean to say is I could really go for some socialized medicine right about now.
I seem to be losing some perspective on the actual size of my problems lately. I should be glad that all I have is a sore throat, and that I'm healthy enough to work, and able to go to school. These should be good enough for me, right now. It could be worse, after all, I could be a meat-eater.
Speaking of losing all perspective, it seems that our country has been "wandering in darkness." It was really unlikely that I would find much to agree with Glenn Beck about today, but his religious tones surprised me. All of his talk about returning America to God and restoring our honor just didn't make any sense. Am I, as a secular American, laboring under the false illusion that this country has never had any shortage of religious devotion? Or is Beck, as a Christian, deluded in his idea that America has become too secular? I think the problem is that, so long as our standards for "too religious" or "too secular" are "more religious/secular than me" we will always see ourselves as a persecuted class. Anyway, Beck's speech today seemed harmless enough; if I think that his timing was tasteless and his message off-base, well, that's probably the nicest response I've had to anything he's ever said.
Lately I've been talking to a friend quite a bit about our mutual feeling that we've regressed. Bad habits and old problems seem to be creeping back in to our behavior, while the progress we'd made toward life goals is slipping away. This feeling of falling backwards was beginning to get overwhelming. Regaining my perspective on this, accepting that growth isn't linear or neat or increasing at a predictable rate has helped me calm down and remember that a few bad days don't mean that it's ok to give up. I think I see the whole Tea Party movement as a big regression for our country, back to the mentality that elected and re-elected President Bush. It may be all I can do to comfort myself with the thought that it, too, is a temporary setback, the inevitable ebb of our progress away from those times. A few bad days (or news cycles, or elections) don't mean that it's ok to give up. For now, I'm going to try to sleep away whatever is ailing me and avoid any WebMD-induced panic.