Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why Clinton

The big debate is tonight.
I suppose it's going to be "Hugh."

For what it's worth, it's no surprise who I'm supporting.
I "feel the bern" and I thank him for his advocacy on behalf of working families.
In the end, I voted for Hillary in the primary and I was a delegate for her at the DNC, not because I don't love Bernie, not because he isn't qualified to be president, but simply because Hillary Clinton is, in my opinion, perhaps the most qualified person of my lifetime to run for the office of president of the United States.
She has served as First Lady, U S Senator, and Secretary of State. She has worked on behalf of working families her entire life.
Never in history has any one person been so scutinized for so many years but it has not dissuaded her. 

Her opponent has accused her of many things, all without evidence. 
At the same time, refuses to release his tax returns as every presidential candidate in recent history has, he states his qualifications as a great businessman but he has repeatedly declared bankruptcy and in doing has cheated small business owners and workers the income they had worked for, he has insulted and ridiculed the disabled, women, Mexicans, Muslims and others, he claims he and he alone can make America great agiain yet his clothing line is manufactured overseas, and his policy plans lack depth except when it coms to immigration where he states he will build a Hugh Wall and get Mexico to pay for it.

And some want him to have the nuclear launch codes?????????

In the end, people vote with their hearts. 
I hope they see The Donald as he truly is, interested in The Donald and The Donald only. 
But more than that, I hope they see Hillary as she truly is, interested in all the people of this country and qualified to serve. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fighting the Good Fight

I received an email from a friend, a physician.
I will paraphrase to protect privacy.

"I just came from a sympathy call to a friend whose 96-year-old mother died this week in Willimantic. Her mother was twice transferred by helicopter to Hartford Hospital because no intensive care was available at Windham Hospital. 

I was chatting with a physician friend who was also paying a sympathy call tonight and he told me that Hartford Health Care just closed down the practice of Dr. X, a surgeon who has been practicing in our area for decades. He said it came as a shock to everyone, especially Dr. X!"

Last year, Hartford Healthcare closed the CCU in Windham Hospital, sighting low volume. That low volume was caused by Hartford's practice of transferring cases to Hartford.

Hartford Healthcare also owns Dr. X's practice.

A recent article in Modern Healthcare points out that the promises of improved quality outcomes from hospital owned physician practices because "it can encourage “coordination efforts” and continuum of care services" has not materialized.

The closing of services at community hospitals and the closing of local physician practices by large healthcare corporations are symptoms of the ills of our healthcare system, just as the movement of public school money to private charter schools and the cuts in vital services to state residents as a result of state austerity budgets are symptoms of the ills in education and public services. 

In all cases, greed is the motivation.
Greed of the leadership of healthcare corporations, private charter school corporations, and the 1%.

It is easy to become discouraged and feel we have no recourse to reverse these trends.
Please don't let that happen.
Become involved in your union, your community group, your local politics.

We won't win every battle.
We may sometimes have to compromise.

But if we don't fight back we will surely lose.

There is an old saying, "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu." 

Sunday, September 18, 2016


At the Democratic National Convention, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh started his speech with this line, "Good evening. my name is Marty Walsh, and I'm an alcoholic."
I know nothing of Mayor Wlash, but he seems like a man who has taken his own inventory. 

I am a co-dependent. 
know this is a vague term which means different things to different people.
To me it means that I have trouble discerning boundaries between myself and those I care about.
It leads me to try to "save" people, and in the process, I prevent some from learning to care for themselves; and I push others away by smothering them. 
I sometimes tell people I probably ended up in nursing to fulfill my need to care for others.  I tell them I became a "professional co-dependent."

Like Mayor Walsh, I belong to a 12 step group.  
Unlike the Mayor, I took a several year "sabbatical" from it when I became "too busy."

There is a saying, "Anything you place before your recovery, you will lose."
I've known for a while that something wasn't right, that something was "off."
I could feel it.

Since the DNC I have returned to my program.
Maybe, my higher power put the Mayor and I in Philadelphia at the same time so that I could hear his message, his courage, his recovery.

Today I am trying to take my own inventory. 
I am trying to respect the individuality of others. 
And it feels right. 

I'm John, and I'm a co-dependent. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mother Teresa

"Every decision is an ethical decision," so says my good friend Eric. 

Last week, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was officially recognized as a saint. 
She spent her life caring for the poorest of the poor. 
She practiced what Jesus spoke about in his sermon on the mount.....
Feed the poor
Care for the sick
Comfort those in need. 

She showed us how to live. 

On Thursday I attended a DUE Justice Event at which Rev William Barber spoke. He said America has a "heart problem."
America's heart is in the wrong place. 
Instead of love for our sister and brother, there is hatred for anyone different from ourselves. 
Instead of sharing our extra coat with our neighbor, it's I've got mine and too bad for you. 

America's moral compass is off. 

What Rev Barber so eloquently preaches, Mother Teresa lived. 
What Eric knows, Mother Teresa knew. 

America can fix its heart problem, but it will take us living in love as Mother Teresa did. 

But how can we, with our imperfections, be expected to live such a moral life, making loving ethical decisions?

How can we find love in our hearts when the world is filled with the kind of hatred that led to September 11?

Here may be Mother Terrsa's greatest gift to us. 
From studying her personal letters, we know that Mother Teresa, the woman who felt called by Jesus to serve the poorest of the poor, struggled with her spirituality at times. 
But her struggles did not change her decisions, did not change her life's work. 

Mother Teresa was not perfect, she experienced doubts as we all do. But she lived her life in loving service. 

May we all strive to make ethical decisions, all strive to live moral lives, all reach out in love to our sisters and brothers, and if we do so, America's heart problem will be cured. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

What Labor Day means to me

I joined the labor movement in 2010, when I became involved in an organizing campaign at my hospital.  We were seeking one thing, the chance to have a voice in advocating for our patients. This is something we were  taught in nursing school, that advocating for our patients was the single most important role of a nurse, that when we saw something wrong, from a doctor, an administrator, or from anyone else, that as hard as it was to stand up and advocate for our patients, that was what we must do.
I'll be honest, there was a time early in my nursing career and the careers of my colleagues, where we felt we could do so.
But times change.
It had gotten to the point where speaking up and advocating had become dangerous. Increasingly, advocating for our patients would bring retaliation.
Faced with this difficulty in doing what were had been taught we must, we stood together in solidarity and strength and regained our voice.
So I became part of the Labor Movement, but I soon realized that The Movement had been a part of me my whole life and the life of my family.

I had grown up with and been taught the principles of the movement without knowing it.
My family were not members of a union, but we were taught that we held a responsibility for our neighbor's well being. We were taught that everyone, regardless of sex, color, race, or religion, was our neighbor.
We were taught as John the Baptist cried out in the desert, "That the man who has two coats should give one to he who has none."
These principles are in stark contrast to the "I'll get mine, screw you" mentality of the greed that is often practiced by those with the financial power.

These principles of caring for neighbor were a part of my family and thankfully, are a part of most of us.
It is like in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus never directly answers the question, he lets the man asking the question answer it himself, because the man already knows the answer:

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30Jesus took up this question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
31Now by chance a priest was going down the same road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32So too, when a Levite came to that spot and saw him, he passed by on the other side.
33But when a Samaritan on a journey came upon him, he looked at him and had compassion. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35The next day he took out two denariie and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he said, ‘and on my return I will repay you for any additional expense.’
36Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37“The one who showed him mercy,” replied the expert in the law.
Then Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I grew up with the principles of the Labor Movement, many of us do.
The principles are love of neighbor, of solidarity, of speaking out for those who have no voice.

Labor Day to me is a celebration of those principles that are ingrained in most of us growing up. 
It is a celebration to the men and women who had, and continue to have, the courage to advocate for their neighbors against the powerful who are motivated by greed.
It is a celebration of all hardworking men and women across our shrinking planet.
It is a celebration of love and solidarity.