Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crossroads in History, not Just in Caregiving

I titled this blog "Caregiving at the Crossroads" because I believe passionately that the choices we make and the actions we take TODAY will have long term effects on caregiving in our families, our communities and within our nation.

But we face more than just a crossroads in caregiving; we face a crossroads in our country on a much bigger scale today.

When I was a new social work grad there was a theme among social workers, designed to get people to understand what social workers are really about (this, in an age where my mom freaked out about my going to social work school, thinking all social workers were bra-less, Birkenstock-wearing liberal "nut-jobs" - oh wait, people still think that today...):

"Wherever you go, whatever you do, say you're a social worker."

I've proudly worn my social work creds throughout my work as a business developer, manager, consultant and entrepreneur. It's important to who I am, and to what I value, no matter what I'm doing professionally.

And at a time when I see caregiving - and many, many other issues - at a crossroads in our country, it's time to stand up and say what I believe. It's not a time to be politically correct, or overly sensitive to our differing opinions.

That doesn't mean I don't believe in agreeing to disagree, or discussing things civilly. It does mean, though, that I can't stay silent on topics that mean so very much to me. Topics like:

Health care. It's embarrassing to live in a country where basic health care is not affordable even to many hard-working wage-earning individuals. I truly believe that we not only CAN figure out a solution to universal health care, but that we MUST come up with a solution. We're not getting any younger, you know - we baby-boomers will tax this system beyond its ability to bear if we don't come up with a solution. If other developed countries in the world can do this, certainly WE can do it.

Women's Issues. I'm a professional woman with three daughters. I know something of what it takes to run a business, work long, hard hours, and raise daughters who make responsible choices. I believe that some of the most important work we do as women is in the raising of our children; children who choose to make a difference in the world, who make responsible choices in every aspect of their lives, and who we trust to make the tough choices personally as they grow and develop. As a mom, I have always parented from the perspective of teaching my children the right way to live, and doing my best to model that in my own life. And then giving them the freedom to make their own choices, knowing that I've given them tools to make good choices. (The proof is always in the pudding, as my mom would say!)

For my country, all I ask is that legislators respect me and my fellow women enough to let us make our own choices about some of the most personal - and life-changing - events in our lives. Legislating this choice says that we don't respect our fellow women enough to let them make choices for their own lives - and I profoundly disagree with that.

Money. Ah, the hard part. Many people in the suburb where I live plan to vote from their pocketbook alone. I admit, higher taxes will pinch, if it affects me personally. At the same time, I'm so proud to live in a community that is safe to walk in, day and night, that provides a public education to rival most private schools, and that has good roads, parks and libraries. I'm willing to pay my fair share to ensure that we continue to have these assets. And I'm also willing to contribute to the work of caring for those who don't have the advantages I have. I remember the words from that good book, "To whom much has been given, much is expected." I know that my family has been richly blessed. I believe it is my responsibility to share these blessings, and so I will pay my taxes and work hard to make sure that the money is well spent.

Today I wear heals and a suit most days (and a bra, mom), but I'm still a social worker. I'm still committed to making a difference in my own small world, and maybe, if I'm lucky, in the larger scheme of things as well.

In the weeks ahead we all have a choice to make. Consider carefully your values when you make that choice. We're at a crossroads. Your choice - and your vote - is vital for ensuring that we take the road that leads to a better future.

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