Updated: Mar 9
Celebrating? How about we honor instead.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." - Bert Lance
This phrase was expressed and adopted in 1977, when President Jimmy Carter appointed Mr. Lance as Director of the Office of Management and the Budget. Soon after, Mr. Lance resigned after allegations of corruption and mishandling of funds during the time he'd served as Chairman of the board of a prominent bank in Georgia.
Learning the origin of this phrase gave me pause. At the time, that phrase became a mantra for those in The System, the establishment, "The Man," people who were anti-change, anti-progressives who, for all intents and purposes, felt The System didn't need changing. After all, it was working well...
They were part of that system. Individuals and corporations that had all the advantages the system afforded them—in short, those lucky enough to have the Power Twins, affluence and influence, at their backs and on their sides and they didn't want the updated version of "The System 1.0."
Why would they? It was good to be a guy like Bert Lance in mid-to-late 20th century America.
You heard the man. If it ain't broke…
So if we apply "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" (using my non-Southern vernacular) to healthcare in the United States, I'd like you to take a moment and ask yourselves if The System is indeed working well for you.
If your answer is no, then keep reading.
If your answer is yes, it is working, then I'd like to suggest a short revisit to Mr. Lance's remark through the lens of history.
Mr. Lance uttered those words in 1977, the year after the first marital rape act was enacted in Nebraska. Up until that point, a woman was her husband's sexual domain and couldn't be legally stopped, or punished, for raping his wife.
Before 1977, your race, gender, marital status, religion, national origin, age, and whether you were on public assistance could all be used against you in the financial world. Before 1977, unmarried women weren't legally allowed to obtain birth control.
Before 1977, you could be denied educational and employment opportunities based on your gender or minority status.
So…what if it's broken, and we don't want to fix it? Then what? Well, the first step is admitting there's a problem which means, conversely, the best way to not have a problem? Refuse to acknowledge it.
As a society, we've collectively decided to make "broken," aka being ill, an identity, not something that needs "fixing" (staying consistent with the word and I'm not suggesting serious mental illnesses can be "fixed" easily, if at all.) We've changed the narrative around what, and who, needs "fixing." We don't stop cancer by incorporating it into our identity and lives. We fight. When it comes to being diagnosed with a mental illness, we think it's a benign capitulation so insurance companies will pay for our talk therapy. How did that happen?
Simple. We allowed our health to be hijacked by money. But we also allowed western medicine's successes to create an entire society of deniers of our own subjective experiences.
You ache? Take a pill, keep going, going, going. You're exhausted? Take a pill, drink a drink, push, push, push. Anxious? Inhale, take a pill, drink a drink. Constant heartburn? Chew a fruity chalk, drink a chalky liquid, take a pill. Can't sleep? Pill, inhale, chew, drink.
Tired and wired? That's okay! Review the above and repeat, over and over, until one day, your body says, "EFF YOU."
For the first time in history, our life expectancy is shrinking, and our "mental health" is taking a sabbatical in favor of being permanently disabled via lifelong mental illnesses that have simply been incorporated into our lives, our medical language and diagnostics, and culture.
So, when it comes to your physical health, I've got some rather obvious news. If you're physically unwell, your mental health will soon plummet with it. Our mental health fixes are absent the "quick" when it comes to fixes. Suicide is an alarming epidemic no one seems to know how to address.
Why is that?
What it means to be human
Today is, among other things, National Woman's Day. But I want to encourage you to not waste it with meaningless echo-chamber talk on social media.
*CYA/caveat: I'd like to say here that what it means to be "female" to me. It isn't whether you need a bra, can make or bear children, whether you bleed, or even if you have ovaries. We must all remember that sex, gender, all of that is about the plumbing and how you see yourself, how you feel about yourself, and how you'd like the world to do both.
But I'm not talking about any of that. My female-ness is an intrinsic part of me, of my son, my partner, my daughters, my brothers, my friends, all of us. We're playing here in the realm of archetypes and universals, and no, I'm not going to tell you what's inherently "female" in the human psyche because that doesn't matter and isn't what we're discussing today. *CYA finie*
I'm addressing the anima to our animus, the yin to our yang, the yoni and lingam. In other words, the inherently FEMALE part in each and every human being regardless of the plumbing and gender-politics. There must be a yang to the yin, dark to the light, the reason to the emotion. We are systems within systems within complicated, complex systems, and sorry kids, we're all interdependent in one way or another on those balances being struck, both personally and globally.
We're talking about the scope of the human spirit and condition. No one is 100% "male" or 100% female. We're all a beautiful, perfectly human mixture of both, and how you wanna frame that for yourself is your deal. You do you.
If your idea of celebrating "National Women's Day" is to treat yourself to "self-love" by buying a new ____, then maybe selfies and slacktivism on social media, how about you... not do that.
Maybe today we can honor women who came before you, before me, women who paved the way for your life, all that's good in it, like being able to say "no" to your partner and not get raped. How about just...that?
But that also means how about we specifically honor them - and ourselves - by reading an article or two about the history of women's healthcare. Hey, go nuts, read a whole book about it. Google "female hysteria." (Look, I linked it for you and everything. You're welcome, it was my pleasure. :)
Please. PLEASE. Take a moment and read what "conditions" The System (at the time, throughout all time), treated and ask yourself if the conditions have changed, or did they just adult-up the terminology? Did they change the narrative and alter what it means to be "broken" vs. what/who needs fixing?
Let me help - YES. That's exactly what they did.
So what we're discussing is how people OTHER THAN the Bert Lance's of the world were historically traumatized, controlled, marginalized, and flat-out brutalized by the healthcare system.
But we're also talking about how it continues to this day.
"Healthcare" is (or should be) humans, caring
Read, learn, open your mind. You've got nothing to lose with information except your worldview. I get it. It's scary, overwhelming, I know. Trust me, the curtain being ripped aside by me, by you? So much better than when The System does it.
And if you don't walk away from the information you learn from any or all the above 100% committed to improving our healthcare system, then you don't understand what's at stake. If you don't walk away realizing how broken it is for other people will predict how broken it will be for YOU someday, then you need to take a moment and see today's healthcare system through the eyes of someone who isn't you.
Someone who has had the healthcare system fail them in spectacular fashion.
If you don't walk away with some genuine outrage, then you're not being crushed by the current system, and that makes you part of that system, and your apathy and unwillingness to be uncomfortable is part of the problem.
Go ahead, tell me what's more important than our health.
Truthfully, I find it less arrogant and insulting to have my doctor consider my hormones as a reason for me being moody and exhausted rather than slap me with a mental illness diagnosis or a personality disorder. Likely because the former is more accurate.
As for those who say we have the greatest healthcare system in the WORLD here in America, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a dear friend the other day. He was telling me of the horrific "socialized medicine" in Europe, and as usual, I was a pain in the ass.
He said he was carted into a hospital in southern Europe and the ER looked like "a scene from M*A*S*H" (the old television show, kids.). People moaning, bleeding everywhere, people clearly so ill, it was a horror show.
I offered him another alternative narrative. Like… what if you only went to the hospital or doctor because you accidentally dropped a fork into your eyeball? What if the hospital or doctor's office couldn't fix everything?
What if you knew YOU were in charge of your own health, so you paid close attention to what you put in your body and how your body told you to STOP. Sleep, eat, work out, rest, breathe, calm, cry, hurt, yell into a pillow, worry and fret, figure it out, stop eating, don't eat or drink THAT ever again…
The reason he's my friend? He considered that narrative as an alternative, and that's all it takes.
So… if you want to believe our healthcare system, as it is now, "ain't broke," and it works for you and that's JUST FINE, then think about the coming generations, and maybe you'll be the lucky one to explain why.
Why we're all so sick and unhappy. Explain to them that your job, "getting ink," being "super productive," pretending it away because it doesn't really affect your life (yet), and your social media feed/story was more important than making sure they aren't permanently disabled by a single medication their doctor gives them for a sinus infection.
Good luck with that.
If it's broken for me, it's broken for you, too
If you find it socially repulsive to read Bert Lance's good ol' boy rhetoric, if you look back on our history and shudder at how insensitive "they" were, then it's time to step into the realities of how the current system is not working for your fellow human beings. As for me, I believe when history looks back at me, I'll be on the right side of this.
Just because you're on the right side of it right at this moment doesn't mean you get to walk away. There will be a reckoning, and it's coming for you and those who don't want to deal with how broken it is because "hey, works for me."
It's not JUST about the children, is it? It's about all of us.
Do you know your Black Box Warnings?
Coming Soon: Film #2 - "It's Not Just About The Children"
The Drug Fairy ©