Friday, July 14, 2006

The Hatfields, McCoys, and the Rest of the World

I was watching the goose communities from my living room window over the July 4th holidays, and suddenly it hit me why these geese and all their shenanigans seemed so familiar. They are socially not much different than human communities. The families quibble and squabble all the time. When I feed them, they jostle and poke and shriek to be first and dominant. If one impinges on the others' perceived personal space, the offended lowers his neck, stretches it out and heads for the rear end of the offender, often taking a large chunk of pin and tail feathers. So after a feeding more often than not are copious clumps of white goose down and feathers littering the lawn. I have noticed that some times after a particularly harrowing feud, casualties result, There are no winners really, just losers because while the fighters are busy tearing one another apart, the rest ofthe family has gone on to eat all the feed and are standing ringside to see what happens next. Every fighter in the war comes out looking like he/she is wearing a feather headdress,quills are broken, feathers are out, and occassionally, a physical fatality occurs from being choked to death by one of the Hatfields or McCoys. The defeated retreats to the lake ashamed but not really for long, because it starts all over again. Even the young ones, once they lose some of the fuzz and have the beginnings of feathers, learn at that tender age how to hiss and spit, and who to hiss and spit at.
Remind you of anyone you know? Humans of course. It seems that ripping out of ones talefeathers occurs routinely in the corporate world, the legal world, the medical world. Every body is jockeying for a seat at the feast table. But the feast is gone so it is a hollow victory at best. And so our life is stolen out from under our noses while we are out squabbling about whose oil is it anyway? Whose God is it anyway? Whose fortunes are richer. When we come home for the feast, the wonderful clear fresh air is gone, the trees we remember seeing in our viewmasters as kids--gone. The rolling countryside with miles and miles of nothing but grass and rocks and dirt--there no more. The pristine blue waters in the northern lakes and rivers--vanished. The old fashioned town council meeting open to the public--cellphones. The beautiful babies we made and grew--gone,grown up and old long before their time. many helpless and hopeless before graduating fromthe 5th grade.

In one of my upper division nursing classes (my university nursing school's program emphasised community nursing and health), a psycho social instructor, said that this particular democracy of the USA bases its economics success on a certain percentage unemployment among other things. This meant that this economy grew stronger when unemployment percentages remained between the upper and lower limits of the given percentage. That and war usually helped the economy better than peace.

All of our career years (and I am speaking to nurses and colleagues mostly)we have spent making people comfortable and playing at going between other departments, doctors and the patient. We have all been in the middle too many times to remember. We have always played the ombudsman for the helpless and needy. We are a nurturing albeit frustrated profession. I believe we need to carry that ombudsmanship over into caring for a larger more diverse "patient" group that encompasses not only humans and animals, but vegitation, air,water. They all need us to interpret for them to the ones who hold the cards. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a sick world. And in keeping with my philosophy, lets clean it up.

(originally published 6/1/06 as a welcome note to a specialty group on Care2)

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