I live in an awesome old neighbourhood with lots of kids and a tiny park that connects my street with the next street over. It’s a great place to gather, and in good weather, sometimes it seems like the whole neighbourhood is out there. Of course, being Canada, we also flood an ice rink over the grass in the winter, this being a distinctly manly job for the dads – real fire hoses are involved. It is not uncommon for people to put toys out in the park to share, and for quite a while now, there have been two sandboxes with shovels and such that people have decided to share with everyone.
Here’s the thing: there isn’t any sand in them anymore. Clearly, at one point, there was someone with a baby who minded the sandbox, adding sand when it got low. My guess is that this particular parent stopped adding sand when their baby grew out of playing in the box. Since then, loads of babies have been born, they love to open the cover of the sandboxes and scrape around the bottom of the box, probably dreaming of someday making a sandcastle. I can’t for the life of me understand why all the (solidly middle-class, car-owning, fancy-stroller pushing) moms who take their kids to the park don’t simply buy a damn bag of sand to put in there. Five bucks, what’s the big deal? Free riders, I understand, but if there isn’t anything to ride, that is kind of lame.
And with all the hullabaloo about the health care debate, the issue seems kind of the same to me. I don’t even live in the U.S., and I have great health care, but this is an issue I care about, so I’ve already sent multiple letters to my representatives there in Iowa where I still vote. I’ve seen the polls that show a large majority supporting health care reform and the public option, and of course, I’ve seen the crazy lie machine in action trying to reframe the debate into “Ooga! Ooga! Scary Russia Hitler!” and for the most part succeeding.
And then I wonder, where are all these people who support health care reform, and why aren’t there big marches on the capitol and sit-ins and media blasts and outrage on a daily basis? Yes, I have training: cycles of protest, information overload, culture of cynicism, I know, I know. But, you know, this is important. Something really great could be put into place that helps people for decades and centuries to come. Medical bankruptcy could be a concept that seems as distant as polio. Or not. Just about everybody seems to prefer watching to see what happens to taking a role in making stuff happen. Perhaps so they can roll their eyes and have their cynicism proven right. Not much of a reward, if you ask me.