Have you noticed the number of people who reply to columns and blogs who seem to think that nothing bad can ever happen to them? I have. It is amazing the number or people who think that they are immune from illness, accidents, and other calamities. Many of these people know that they are good; therefore they feel protected.
I hate to tell you, but this is not reality.
No amount of “being good” will protect you from a heart attack if you are genetically predisposed to having one. No amount of “being right” will save your child from autism, asthma or other health problem caused by contamination in our communities. Voting for your party will not keep the microbes loose in our communities from striking you.
In Matthew 5:45 in the Bible, it tells us that “It rains on the just and unjust alike.”
The things of this world, good and bad, visit all people, just or unjust. Good is not denied the bad people and bad is not kept from the good. In the Jewish faith we find the story of Job, a faithful man of God who lost family, friends, wealth and health, though he didn’t deserve that fate.
I have been known to comment on the delusion of control that we all seem to have at birth. We think we control our world, our environment. We don’t. One sign of maturity is to realize that we do not have any control at all. One saying that I love is: “Man supposes; God disposes.”
As we age and mature, we take care that we have money in the bank against a rainy day. We expect our state to have a rainy-day fund. We buy life and health insurance if we can. We buy auto and home insurance to protect our pocketbook if something unforeseen happens.
Yet things happen to people and they need more than the insurance. They need more of everything yet suddenly they have nothing but aching needs.
You walk, swim, hike, climb and eat well and then one day you find out your legs are worn out and you are walking bone to bone. You are hit by an uninsured car crossing the street and your legs don’t work anymore. You fall when a pathway is unexpectedly slick and break your hip. You lose control of your car on an icy patch and break both your car and your neck. You have a child born with a health, developmental or learning problem. The economy tanks and you lose your job and can’t find another.
This is why we must all band together and make provision for all of us in times of need. This is what social programs are for. Social programs are our collective insurance to ensure a decent level of survival for all of us in times of need.
Not everyone will have a problem at the same time – thus the ongoing need for social programs.
Some will never have a problem, but everyone is vulnerable and problems can occur in anyone’s life. Life is a gamble.
Yes, I hear the grumbles about the lazy “them.” In anthropology classes in college, we learned about the “mythical other” – people different from you. Yet I have found if you go and meet the “others,” they are like you.
A woman I knew, wife of a mayor and daughter of a founding family in her town, met a woman and suddenly became a driving force in helping, instead of looking down on, welfare mothers. Talk to someone old or disabled and meet yourself.
Virginia Towne is a retired computer programmer from the University of Washington with experience in her own life with disabilities. A member of The Olympian’s Diversity Panel, Virginia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.