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Listen close to everybody's heart

I was in a very bad place when I woke up today. The Doctor Horrible parts of "My Eyes" from Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog were running through my head, except I'd changed the Penny-specific lines to: "They say it's just our stupid luck/But no one seems to give a fuck/That soon the dark in us is all that will remain."

And then I read this post from Ursula Vernon about a frequent commenter of hers having committed suicide on Wednesday, apparently because she was going to lose her health insurance.

That's when I realized that giving up isn't an option.

See, Doctor Horrible gave up. Or, rather, he gave in. Penny was close to turning him into a good guy. But as soon as he hit a setback—and it was a major setback, that's for sure—he went full evil. He gave up on the path that would very likely have eventually won Penny's heart, and he gave in to his basest, vilest instincts.

And he destroyed his world.

The first half of the chorus of "My Eyes" is absolutely correct:

Listen close to everybody's heart
Hear that breaking sound
Hopes and dreams are shattering apart
And crashing to the ground

But the next lines, where Doctor Horrible declares that "evil inside of me is on the rise", are absolutely the wrong thing to do. For all of us. Yes, we need to listen. We need to hear how people are heartbroken, how their dreams are shattered, and how they're frightened and hopeless. Perhaps more importantly, we need to understand and acknowledge these things about ourselves.

And then we need to help each other.

Yes, many people are probably going to lose their health insurance. But ... that probably won't happen right away. Bureaucracy is slow, and for once it's slow in our favor. So there's time to make other plans, take other actions, and do what we can to weave a net to catch some of the people who might otherwise fall through. I'm fortunate enough to live in California, one of the most liberal states in the U.S., and I have a strong feeling that the CA state government will enact something to cushion the blow that any action taken against the ACA would otherwise cause. The same probably goes for New York, Oregon, and Washington. Massachusetts already had a plan in place before the ACA took effect, so people there are probably going to be okay. Not certainly, however, so don't let your guard down, MA people.

Those living in other states (including Denial, Confusion, Dissociation, and Abject Terror ... oh, and Texas) may have a harder time of it, so we'll all have to work extra hard to help those people. And by "help", I don't necessarily mean money, or volunteering, or even writing to Congresscritters—although, of course, all of those things will help should you wish to do them. I mean being there for our friends, listening to them when they hurt, commiserating with them, letting them know that we are here.

For those of us, like me, who are straight, white, cis-gendered, fully-abled, relatively healthy men ... our duties and burdens are even bigger, because although it may not feel like it right now, we play the game of life on the "Easy" setting. When we walk down the street, no one hides their wallets or surreptitiously crosses to the other side to avoid us. When we walk past large groups of women, we don't feel ice-cold terror at the idea of being surrounded and physically overpowered. When we hold hands with our loved ones, we don't run the risk of someone shooting us in the head from their car. When we apply for jobs, we aren't given bullshit reason after bullshit reason for being turned down when we know full well that the company just doesn't want the hassle of accommodating someone "different." The police give us the benefit of the doubt, usually. When we tell someone our profession, we usually aren't greeted with stark disbelief at the idea that someone "like us" could be a doctor/physicist/astronaut/accountant/professor/inventor/author/Master Sifu of Shaolin Five Animal Kung Fu/etc. (Okay, maybe we'd get some funny looks for that last one...)

THEREFORE, when we see any of these things happening to our fellow human beings who are non-white, non-straight, female, transgendered, androgyne, disabled, afflicted with chronic conditions, or any combination or permutation of the above, we need to do something! We don't need to be paladins about it, but people need to know that we have their back. And the perpetrators of whatever awful behavior we witness need to know that their behavior isn't acceptable. Even if those perpetrators are the police or some other authority. I'm not telling anyone to get themselves arrested, just to do what you feel is right to defend and assist the disadvantaged.

This turned into a much longer post than I intended it to, and I'm sorry if it's rambling. But I needed to write this. And I need to do this. And I hope that you'll do this, too. Don't overtax yourself, don't take on more than you feel you can realistically handle, but try to do something. One drop of water won't douse a forest fire ... but a few million of them can.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
ebenbrooks
Nov. 13th, 2016 06:08 pm (UTC)
Good on ya, my friend. And don't forget to reach out when you need some help yourself, okay?
(Deleted comment)
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