Sunday, November 15, 2009

How do cultures cope with widesread, serious and overwhelming loss?

I recently received a ‘newsletter’ from old friends with whom I collaborated on the book, ‘Making it Happen: A Positive Guide to the Future,’ many years ago. They come in the mail two or three times each year. My friends might have changed the format of their newsletters to email or a blog, but, even though they are environmentalists, they have remained with the printed word. This means that their communications are less frequent than those transmitted by other members of my network. One consequence is that I always read the entire missive, either immediately or later.

Here is a reflection from the newsletter on the current heath care debate and social inequities that draws on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross insights about the stages of coping with loss. They write:

[Kubler-Ross] talks about the coping mechanisms, first denial, then ANGER, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance - diagnosed... when played out in he personal lives of people both dying themselves or losing loved ones. What if this diagnosis... is also the diagnosis, the template for understanding how cultures go through a time of coping with widespread and serious and overwhelming loss.

Despite the Kubler-Ross diagnosis of the source of all tht anger, we contemplate with a heavy heart the truth-distorting debate about health-care reform and the terrible demonizing of President Obama. How can seniors be so pleased with their government-sponsored Medicare coverage and yet fulminate against a ‘government run’ health-care option? How can people who have health care not care about people who do not? And about those whose bad luck with illness reduces them to insolvency? We find such callousness to others both sad and heart-rending.

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