Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Defining 'pure evil'

I feel as if I've been here before, pleading for people to stop amping up the rhetoric, spewing fear tactics not even remotely based in fact, all to achieve a political goal. Talk about pure evil. That's my definition.

Take, for instance, the current hysteria being fostered by some to avoid necessary changes to our health care system. It doesn't take much to stir fear and loathing. Just mention ridiculous things like so-called "death panels," "socialized medicine" and my very favorite, the suggestion that somehow President Obama in his zeal to create change is comparable to Hitler.

Now I am the last person in the country to say that I endorse every single item in the proposed health care reform. For one thing I haven't read every paragraph in the bill. Neither, I suspect, have most of the people who are waving signs, shouting and generally creating chaos in the town hall meetings around the country. They're there because someone's told them they're going to lose their current medical benefits, because someone has planted the notion that some "death squad" will decide whether the elderly live or die. I've read enough and listened enough to know that neither of those things are true. And the people who've raised that sceptre of fear are the ones who are "pure evil."

I certainly understand the fear, and I know these are people who are genuinely opposed to the changes they fear might be coming. But when was the last time a shouting match accomplished anything? Seek first to understand. That's a lesson I was taught a long time ago. But none of these folks are listening or even attempting to learn the facts. They're reading or listening to the venom spewed by certain politicians and commentators designed to defeat, rather than improve a necessary bill. People who are shouting down their congressmen aren't seeking a better bill based on logic and an informed opinion. They're acting out of panic.

I seriously doubt that a single one of them could mount an argument that our health care system doesn't need to change. Costs are skyrocketing. Millions of hard-working citizens are uninsured because they can't afford insurance. Many others are prevented from getting insurance -- at any cost -- because of pre-existing conditions. And some of these people, many of them children, may die because the public clinics that serve them are over-crowded and understaffed and the wait for an appointment may take too long. That's my definition of a de facto "death panel" and it exists right now, simply because of an overburdened system.

I would love to see a town hall meeting where people air their opinions and actually listen to the responses, where information is sought and shouting is quieted so the facts can be shared. Will all of us agree on whatever final bill emerges from Congress? Probably not. But the best bill will come from thoughtful discussions and compromise, not from shouted threats. It's way past time to tone it down.

Sherryl Woods

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