I don’t work for the federal government.
My husband doesn’t work for the federal government.
We don’t need federal assistance to help us feed ourselves and our children.
We don’t need federal assistance to get medical care or housing.
My mom, who has been a real estate agent for most of her adult life, told me last night that she is worried about the government shutdown and the effect it will have on her because most of her transactions in the past three years have been short sales. The paperwork is endless and labyrinthine and often refused for some small technicality and the banks who handle these sales rely on government workers to approve them.
I heard a story yesterday about a man who owns and runs a hot dog cart near the capitol building in Washington, DC where he expressed his fears about a long-term shutdown. He is a hard-working individual who relies on foot traffic to make his living and there is none these days. Tourists can’t visit closed buildings and monuments. Government workers who walk past him daily aren’t coming to the office right now.
These are the ripples. And the thing that occurs to me is the larger lesson here. You can’t have ripples without connection. Without interdependence. Without commonality.
Very few of us in this country live Unabomber-style, off the grid, isolated, without any human contact. The rest of us rely on each other in ways big and small and, whether we like it or not, we are all connected. That is what I worry we are forgetting.
What is bad for one of us is bad for all of us. The good news is that the opposite is true as well. What is good for one of us is good for all of us. A rising tide lifts all boats. We all benefit when one of us benefits.
Of course, the truth of that hinges on the word ‘us,’ and our ability to embrace it. It is hard for me to think about what is good for Ted Cruz being good for me, but the fact is, I don’t think he is buying in to the notion of ‘us’ as a large collective, an entire, inclusive human race. I interpret his rhetoric to be inclusive of only those individuals he deems ‘worthy’ by his own standards (I won’t attempt to say what I think those standards might be).
The basis for taxation is collective. Everyone buys in so everyone can benefit.
The basis of the new Affordable Care Act is collective. Everyone buys in so everyone can benefit. The healthier we are as a nation, the more we can help each other. It makes no sense to exclude entire swaths of our population from services and options that can help them because in the end we are hurting ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in accounting for who gets what. I simply want to live in a world where collective humanity is a given, where we all support each others’ endeavors (and right) to get what we need to thrive because that is how we all ultimately thrive. There is no such thing as exclusion. If there were, there wouldn’t be ripples. No matter how much anyone might want to deny it, we are all connected. We all feel the effects. We have to step outside of this artificial notion of Individuality. Yes, we are all unique individuals with strengths and talents and potential. But we are also possessed of desires and needs that we cannot fulfill alone and it is only through coming together with others, supporting everyone, that we can begin to thrive ourselves.