Saturday, September 12, 2009

What We're Up Against, Or

the proverbial apples and oranges...

This is an exact transcript of a "conversation" I just had on Facebook with a cousin of mine. I have deleted the names for privacy but it's otherwise copied verbatim. It speaks for itself, I think, but also brings up such complex issues regarding what it means to be a writer, to write honestly and to one's Truth. (Not to mention any sort of sensible compromise that might be forthcoming regarding our country and healthcare reform.)

(I should explain that this whole exchange happened under the comment of another cousin. I made no reply to that cousin but while reading the status updates came upon the inflammatory comments about myself.)

Cousin: but ya know our idiot cousin in L.A. is saying, "whats up with those people in mississippi"

Cousin: thats after she trashes her mom some more on her "blog"

Cousin: someone should drop a house on her

ME: Wow. [name of cousin]. Did you read my blog and are you disagreeing with my points about healthcare reform? My post was intensely personal as the issue is such an important one to our family, namely our daughter Sophie who suffers considerably from the status quo. Wouldn't you rather engage with me in a way that leaves out personal attack? Or were you counting on me not seeing these comments since we aren't "friends?"

Cousin: no i hoped you would. you should be ashamed of trashing your mom that has worked herself to death to help you. you were out of line. as for personal attacks i guess we are all just tired of being viewed as a bunch of "rubes" when you discuss this with our other aunt.
now on to health care. no i do not agree with your views at all. its not the governments(taxpayer) job to pay your bills. if you are having a hard time the church and family should step in. also a change in employment, place of dwelling, etc. all you have to do is ask. we all love sophie and would do anything for her. it should not be left up to strangers. nobody owes anyone anything.

Me: I'm guessing that you did not read the blog as there is no place in it that I "trashed" my mother. How dare you say these things when you know nothing about my life, my child, my job, where I live and how I live. Nor do you know my friends or community. How dare you judge me? I refuse to get into a war of words, here. I am a mother who does nothing but take care of her family which is why I'm so passionate about the subject. But I also realize that there's no "winning" with this. Clearly, we have nothing to say to one another, and I will rest my case knowing that I did NOT attack you in the vicious way that you did. It's clear that you are happy with the words you've written.

Me: And [my other cousin whose FB page this exchange is taking place on), I'm so sorry that your FB page was used for this. I had no idea this was coming and am sincerely sorry that it was used in this way.

Me: And, [Cousin's name]: I'd like to refute your claim that I am expecting the government to pay my bills. I am not "in trouble." I am passionate about reforming our healthcare system and making it accountable, including the government and the insurance industry. I maintain that it's a moral imperative. Your suggestion that friends and family should step in and help with Sophie's medical care is absurd. If you knew anything at all about our life, you would know this, so I'll just write it off as an incredibly ignorant statement that underlines all that I already believe about those who oppose healthcare reform.

How do you like those apples?


  1. That is so sad and so awful of them and so true that people have no clue. I am sorry you had to endure that, but at least you spoke up. I would be shaking for days after that. Family isn't always the best place to get understanding. I learned that a long time ago.

  2. sorry sweets= thanks for always fighting the "fight" for your family :)

  3. "Dear Cousin: Thank you so much for the loving support offered by your public attack levied without complete, or even partial, understanding of my situation. Looking forward to seeing you Thanksgiving for you truly give me reason to be thankful that I managed to escape the shallow end of the gene pool of our family from which you arose ..."

    There are so many twits in the world, I guess they have to be somebody's cousin ... Why is it that those who don't know yell the loudest?

  4. I'm just wondering when you can expect a big fat check from that cousin?

    I'm so sorry that this happened.

  5. Or when your cousin offers to come and take over your household for a week so you can get off for desperately needed break.
    This is so absurd.
    Please remember that not all southerners are, well, so unthinking.

  6. You handled yourself very well. Wow. I'm floored at the lack of understanding that occurs within a family, and impressed by the way you were able to hold your head up high and stand your ground.

    I've found the exact opposite with my blog. I've found that my family and friends who read my blog become much more understanding and compassionate to our situation than the other way. Maybe your cousin should come over here and read this for him/herself.

    It's obvious that's not happening. I've never once read anything here where you've bad-mouthed your mother, or really anyone in your family.


  7. This Facebook exchange from your cousin was more than a political dialogue .... it was overtly hostile and aggressive towards you . Living in Canada, we look at the healthcare "debate" in the U.S as NUTTY ...CRAZY ....BONKERS . In Canada we pay our taxes and a contribution towards healthcare and the expectation is that everybody gets access to FREE care . It has its shortcomings there is no doubt about that but no family needs to pay for anything out of pocket if they are caring for a disabled child .

    I would be in denial if I thought that Canadian parents did not have to advocate and fight for their kids to ensure they get the care and services they are entitled to but they do not have to live with the fear of losing their insurance or an arbitrary denial of essential care and treatments .

    Press the delete button on your Facebook cousin contacts . Add me instead please , I'd be delighted to have you on my page .... - Moira Macdonald in Oakville, Canada .

  8. Old saying comes to mind here: "The devil gave us our relatives; thank God we can choose our friends."

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  10. I was just listening to the writer Edna O'Brian (sp?) on public radio talk about how Byron once said that any male writer needs to fortify himself before he steps into the arena of writing. Edna says that a woman has to do that tenfold. We need to own our opinions and words and stand by them. You do it with fortitude and dignity. Kudos.

  11. Ick! Ouch. Ick, some more. More ouch. Hang in there Elizabeth, and good job. You are right on.

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  15. A: I don't think the blog is the place for us to discuss your brother and my cousin. I am very familiar with the effects of mental illness, as you know, and have read the book. I am in agreement with you that it can affect the tenor of discussions, including political. But I still maintain that the arguments used and the vitriol expressed are also used and expressed by those who are clearly not mentally ill. And of course, I "forgive" your brother his rude comments. That is between him and me. IF you need to talk, please email me or give me a call. I'm sorry that you're so upset. I was, too.

  16. E:
    If we can put everything aside for a minute, there is something I would like to tell you. My coffee shop is in a huge town of 1,800 give or take a few. The college down the street increases the population by about 8,000 but 95% of those are commuters. We have a child here named Mallory Mashburn. She suffered from the what appeared to be the same illness as Sophie. Endless seizures every day. Hundreds. Her parents made the decision to go to Ohio and have a portion of her brain removed. Everything went well and although her motor skills aren't perfect, she pretty much runs around like a normal little girl. Her parents have bills amounting to several million. In the south we think of friends as family and community as family. The offer for help from the family doesn't solely refer to blood relatives. It is kind of like what Hillary said..."It takes a village". Anyway, we knew some people in the food business. Food was donated. The entire town baked cakes to sell and a BBQ joint cooked. A town of 1,800 in a span of about three hours brought in $25,000 to help with her care and bills. That is just a drop in the bucket but it was given with love and it helped and it gave hope. I hosted her "Make a Wish" party. That was what was meant in part as "family". Just food for thought.

  17. A: That is a wonderful story, and it happens everyday. It's happened to me, as well -- love and support and money from family and friends. But that is not what is at stake here. We live in the ONLY industrialized democracy in the world that doesn't take care of the healthcare of its citizens. We spend the most per person on healthcare and have the lowest statistics on almost every measurement. This is just plain wrong. Good feelings, support from community will not disappear when government (which is, of the people, for the people, I might add) steps in and does what it's supposed to. Have you ever seen the bumper sticker that says something to the order of what if the military had to hold a bake sale to buy bombs? It's about priorities, to me, and having access to healthcare and being able to afford insurance, even have insurance should not be something earned. It's a right.

  18. I just saw your response. I won't leave anymore comments on this blog.
    Love, A.

  19. "its not the governments(taxpayer) job to pay your bills. if you are having a hard time the church and family should step in. also a change in employment, place of dwelling, etc. all you have to do is ask. we all love sophie and would do anything for her. it should not be left up to strangers. nobody owes anyone anything."

    It's so wonderful that you only have to ask, instead of help just being offered. We will all need help one day, every single one of us, public health care is not about a 'government' paying bills, it is about everyone pooling their money so that everyone is covered. It's about taking care of each other, about being connected. Because when one of us suffers, we all suffer.

  20. I know it hasn't been the focus of this discussion, but this partial comment illustrates so much about what is wrong about this dialogue:

    "its not the governments(taxpayer) job to pay your bills."

    The vast majority of reform efforts aren't about taxpayers picking up other people's bills. Medicaid in each state already does that to varying degrees.

    This is about setting up tax deductions for the employed and enabling them to get insurance at all and it's about expanding the obligation of insurance companies (or adopting a Medicare approach) where there are no pre-existing conditions or caps.

    We all pay for each other with our insurance anyway. That's why people with employer provided insurance in small companies where they are members of smaller groups pay much, much more than those who are in very large groups where the risk is spread out.

    People who violently oppose reform seem to equate the necessary changes solely with giving people something for nothing and that's entirely untrue.

  21. I did not hear you trashing your mom in the previous post. I'll just say that right off the bat.

    Is this cousin one of those "friends/family/neighbors" Senator Coburn thinks would be willing to drop everything and come to the aide of family in need of "help?" Thanks, but no thanks.

    And just another reason to hate FB

  22. Dude, there are so many things I want to say right now. So many. Must. Utilize. Impulse. Control. (My word verification word is "haisti." Ha!)



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