On a recent “walk-and-talk” with my son (who like many 10-year-old boys opens up more when we’re engaged in some kind of activity) he described a game he’d created in his head. In it, people were here, but not really here – their physical bodies were on earth but their higher selves were transported to the game state.
Yes, my 10-year-old essentially described the premise of the Matrix, and I can assure you that’s he’s not seen it. (Yet.)
He then mused that it’s hard to know if you’re really in a game, or if you’re really … real. (We then discussed Renee Descartes, which I didn’t see coming in a short walk around the neighborhood.)
He then talked about the origin stories of his game’s “bosses” (main rivals in video games). Once kind, the bosses became evil because of an inability to control something or someone, or through anguish or tragedy. Deep down, though, my son assured me, there was still kindness there.
So, we then discussed the duality of man.
I didn’t really anticipate these hefty topics coming out on a 30 minute walk around the block – nor in the context of video games – but parenting can certainly keep you on your toes.
I feel particularly ill-equipped to teach deep philosophical concepts to a 10-year-old. So when we got home, I searched the library catalog for help – and got Big Ideas for Curious Minds, An Introduction to Philosophy.
Honestly, I recommended it for small and big kids alike.
And as I was perusing the short chapters, I came to one that I found particularly profound, especially now.
The beautiful art of Kintsugi.
Kin means “golden.” Tsugi means “fixing.”
In ancient Japan, people loved their delicate teacups and vases – which often broke, as delicate things do. For many years they simply discarded them. Until the mid-16th Century, when someone somewhere began to repair them.
In a unique way.
Because instead of just fixing the precious pieces with clear glue, they mixed the glue with gold dust – to make the repair unmistakable and obvious.
In kintsugi, the repair itself contributes to the beauty of the item.
The fracture is part of that item’s story, after all. So appreciating the whole item means celebrating its repair – not hiding it as a fatal flaw.
I am moved by that practice. Drawing attention to the beauty in imperfection with a mixture of glue and gold.
There is a lot that is broken right now – institutions, organizations, people.
There are many scars right now – on institutions, organizations, people.
And while our focus remains on “fixing” what is broken – our typical definition of “fixing” requires taking that institution back to its unbroken form.
Kintsugi simply and beautifully reminds us that once something or someone is broken, we really can’t go back to its original form.
It will never be the same.
But that’s okay. Because that original form was never perfect anyway. Breaks happen in the most fragile places – the structurally unsound spots that we didn’t know needed reinforcement.
Taking things back to “the way they were” would only reintroduce those flaws while trying to pretend they weren’t there to begin with. Better to bind glue with gold and draw attention to the additional support we’re providing.
So while I think it’s right to mourn the breaks and breakdowns in our country – the legislators who advocate for secession, the obviously partisan judges, the threats to liberty that are popping up all over the country…
Those are also the places that were most fragile to begin with. We just didn’t see their weaknesses – those hairline cracks – so clearly.
Now, we do.
And working together, we are shoring them up. And I hope that, as we continue, we celebrate – not hide – the repairs.
It makes for a more beautiful, imperfect, union.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of Feb. 28, 2023
Get Them On Record
A week ago, MGT – once again – called for a national divorce and separation of red and blue states. Yes, she says awful things all the time. But we can’t allow our exhaustion over her comments to allow us to get complacent over them.
Here’s where our own representatives (and senators) come in. I really like this new Indivisible action/suggestion, which hearkens back to the days of forcing your members on the record.
Call your Republican MOC (house or senate) and ask them if they have officially denounced MGT’s comments – and if not, why not.
Per Indivisible: “Tell them that you demand they publicly condemn Marjorie Taylor Greene’s calls for a ‘national divorce.’ Let them know that you expect Congress to stand against secessionist rhetoric from its own members, and you want your Representative to push Kevin McCarthy take action.” (See Indivisible’s larger write up here: https://indivisible.org/resource/tell-your-gop-house-representative-publicly-condemn-marjorie-taylor-greene-calling?akid=86745.2783.2U5uQq&rd=1&t=5&utm_medium=_20230227&utm_source=email)
And then, if they refuse or are wishy washy, go public with it! Shout it out on social media, or send the exchange as a DM to any of the local or regional Democrats that you are connected with. We can and must push back on her extremism.
Upcoming Notice and Comment: Telehealth Restrictions
Over the past few years, healthcare has become available to many more people simply because of the expanded use of telehealth. It’s benefited people in rural areas who have to travel hundreds of miles to see certain kinds of practitioners, people without reliable transportation, people who are disabled, people who work three jobs with no sick time…
You could argue that some of the most vulnerable among us are the ones who have most benefited from the expanded use of telehealth.
In particular, the tele-prescribing of Suboxone – which helps people overcome opiate addiction – has been a literal life saver. The opioid epidemic has hit rural America, and working class America very hard. Opiates that were prescribed as pain meds (often because they were covered by workplace insurance whereas PT was not) hooked many on opiates, and the results have been devastating.
Treating the opioid epidemic has been a key priority of pretty much every administration and official – at least in theory. But the lack of providers in many parts of many states, reliable transportation for patients, time off of work, and significant stigma all mean that being able to access safe medication that helps you stay clean is both critical and really hard to get.
Telehealth companies have created systems whereby patients receiving Suboxone from telehealth prescribers have to submit drug screenings as part of the telehealth appointment process. There are strict rules in place. Studies that have been done show very little abuse of the system, and massive benefits.
As it turns out, people really do want to get clean. And for the first time – really, ever – we’re making progress.
Enter the DEA.
Now the DEA is trying to restrict the ability for telehealth providers to issue a refill Suboxone prescription to patients after an initial 30 day dose – unless they see them in person. This adds an unnecessary barrier to continued treatment – one that will be insurmountable for some patients – for no discernible benefit.
This appears to be more of the DEA refusing to accept the strong safeguards and professional clinical telemedicine – that are working. We have the tools to help people, and have proven the safeguards to be strong. This proposed rule will take care away from people, actually increase illegal drug sales as people leave treatment, and kill people.
The law firm Foley and Lardner has a great primer on this: https://www.foley.com/en/insights/publications/2023/02/deas-telemedicine-controlled-substances-phe-ends
And disability advocate/lawyer Matthew Cortland has already promised to lead a charge on the commenting period that will open soon. (There will be 30 days to comment once that window has opened, and I’ll be posting more about it then as well).
But in the meantime – and especially for those of you who are in Republican districts and states – call your MOC. This is an opportunity for Republican congressfolks to oppose the Biden administration on something, and they’ll take up that charge. At the same time, call your Democratic leaders and ask them to work on legislation that will take care of this issue.
And stay tuned because next week we’ll probably have a notice and comment period!
WI Supreme Court Race Coming In April!
The outcome of these Supreme Court races is really important – we’ve all seen how it’s not just the executive and legislative branches that can influence policy. The State Supreme Courts have a significant part to play.
So this April’s State Supreme Court races in Wisconsin are not one to sit out! The WI Dems team (a great group!) and Crooked Media are already on the phones turning out voters. Go here to phonebank: https://www.mobilize.us/crooked/event/545075/ There are multiple days to participate. Or, head over to https://votesaveamerica.com/save-america/ for lots of additional options.
Center for Common Ground Update: Breakdown of Turnout in VA and WI
We now know that turnout in last week’s elections in Virginia and Wisconsin was much higher than expected. Tune in this Thursday, March 2 at 8 pm ET when the Center For Common Ground will break it all down— the numbers for voter turnout, how many voters they reached, and how their efforts impacted turnout.
They will also provide an update for their current get-out-the-vote campaign to mobilize BIPOC voters in Wisconsin ahead of the Supreme Court Race on April 4.
WHEW! GO, YOU!
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