A self-righteous moral crusade has pretty well preoccupied my past week. I’ve been outraged by the state of our health care system — its expense, inefficiency, bureaucracy, mediocrity, self-indulgence. All the while, some corporate and elected officials do everything in their power to scuttle needed reforms and deny access and affordable care to the most needy.
Trust me, if you’ve not seen me on my soapbox spouting harsh invectives and blistering assessments you should count your blessings. Obviously, I like words and take pleasure in their use. Rile my sense of moral indignation and I easily let loose with condemnations and anathamas for whatever the situation may be.
Case in point: today I am having laparoscopic surgery to repair a hernia. Really, no big deal. The actual procedure takes about 15 minutes. You’d never guess that by the bureaucratic hoops and all the medical professionals who find a way to get a cut of the action (i.e., the bill). Don’t get me started!
Nevertheless I’ve learned something important during this unplanned engagement with the health care system I still believe is objectively broken. I’ve learned how much I project and how I’d be better off attending to the stuff I can influence and for which I am directly responsible. Case in point: I need the hernia repair. I am not going to reform the health care system in the process.
Maybe there will be more to learn. But, two realizations occur to me in this process. First, get clean and clear about my emotions. In this case I recognize that my repressed fear and submerged anxiety is spurting out sideways. Expressing indignation about a bureaucracy I reluctantly must engage is easier than admitting that I’m more scared than I want to admit.
It’s really more about me than I want to acknowledge. I would do better admitting my feelings of vulnerability and loss of control than stoke the moral indignation I might muster on behalf of the faceless “vulnerable” and “powerless” in our midst. Yes, we must address access to good health care for those on the peripheries or those without access. However, I need to come clean about the source of my outrage and soapbox rants.
Second thing that has surfaced is a way to test whether my self-righteous indignation is just that — a slightly veiled case of self-interest and an external projection of my internal anxiety. It seems so simple… It would be more honest to ask, “Will I be as outraged and committed to reforming the health care system and getting access for the poor and vulnerable next week as I’ve spouted from atop my soapbox this week?”
Honestly, will I really care a week from now? I hope I will. Still, I probably will be focused on simple gratitude that my hernia surgery is poast and be off on my next “crusade.” Guaranteeing access to care for the needy or reform a broken health care system will be a cause set aside for whatever captures my immediate interst.
The need I should focus on and something broken I can more immediately change is much more personal. That requires more than a 15 minute procedure.