Proof positive

About as close to proof as we can get.

So, yesterday I went to see one of my doctors. A provider. She is a very nice woman, and I like her; she’s from Louisiana, so what’s not to like? I give her a break for being an LSU alum, but she understands Mardi Gras, good gumbo, and beignets. I’ve been seeing her for several years now, so we have a groove. The insurance company practically forced me to see her at this point, because I’ve been caught running between the bases about a maintenance medication that she prescribes. The pharmacy would not refill my prescription, that I’ve been on for years and is a necessary maintenance component of my “health plan” and they kept sending back to the doctor for authorization. The doctor’s office said they sent it and kept sending me back to the pharmacy. Finally, one of the office nurses said you need to make an appointment, and be seen, because they just don’t want to fill the prescription if you haven’t been seen in more than a year. Why that message couldn’t have been clearly delivered by the pharmacy A MONTH AGO is beyond me. Fortunately, I won’t die tomorrow because I haven’t taken the daily medication in a month, but it’s important to my overall health. Otherwise, it would not have been prescribed. See how that works? If I didn’t need to take it as prescribed, I wouldn’t be diligently trying to get it refilled. Capeche, pharmacy??? This is unbelievable.

So, I saw the provider yesterday. We had a good visit, caught up on things my body is doing, or not doing, and she said the prescription would be sent to the pharmacy. I mentioned to her some bladder problems, so a urinalysis was ordered. I dutifully peed in the cup yesterday afternoon, and the results came back this morning. No signs of urinary tract infection. So, she asked me if I wanted to see a urologist for evaluation of possibly overactive bladder or something else. Lovely. I am going to work on it myself for about a week to see if I can get it to settle down, will *gulp* cut down on coffee and drink more water to flush toxins. I will definitely not do anything before I get the bloody prescription I have been stalking, the one that brought me kicking and screaming for an office visit yesterday. I am all for affordable care and Medicare for all or whatever mechanism can be formulated, but in my not at all humble opinion, the for-profit insurance industry sucks. And suck is the high-level technical term for them. They, and not my doctor, prescribe for me – they determine what I can have by determining what I can pay for. They can override the doctor’s best advice by assessing prohibitive charges for medications and treatments, and/or by manipulating co-pays so that the insured is bludgeoned and can’t do anything but acquiesce to their nefarious direction. They. Suck.

I feel as though I am entitled – yes, entitled – to voice my opinion that insurance companies suck because of my experience with them over the past many years. It’s not because everyone else says they suck, or looking at insurance company practices and salary profiles, or the politics of corporate executives, or even publicized accounts of other folks’ horror stories with insurance companies. My opinion is based entirely on my experience, and it’s an honest accounting. The facts of my situation are recounted exactly as they have been experienced, and those facts inform my opinion. What I describe is the truth, meaning it’s what really happened. It has actually taken me nearly 30 days to have a duly prescribed medical prescription refilled, and I don’t yet have the medication nor a reasonable (or at least understandable) explanation of why.

All that being said, I have no problem with opinions. I frequently disagree with the opinions of other folks, even when they are considered “popular” opinions. Differentiation has never been a problem for me, so I calls ’em like I sees ’em. And, given more information, sometimes my opinions change. Imagine that. Change. Like in the football games, when there’s a challenge to a call, there is a video replay for the officials, and the in a few minutes the referee intones “After further review…” followed by either affirmation of the original decision, or a revised call. Video is the elixir of the discordant. If we’d not had video for several of the murders of unarmed Black men by the police, there would be no broad-based national resistance calling for defunding the police. Oppressed groups in this country have been calling out these murders for decades, but accounts of this extreme police brutality were discounted, explained away, justified, rationalized, flat out denied. The victim was blamed. The community was blamed. The educationsl system was blamed, drugs were blamed, but the police retained qualified immunity for their part in these deaths. Video, however, has begun to change some of that and qualified immunity is under scrutiny. Maybe blame shouldn’t be the premise of solutions in any of this.

When someone comes forward with a claim of police brutality, and the victim has died, public opinion is rendered across a wide range of cultural and personal experience. A flurry of research seeks to provide a comprehesive picture of the reality of each situation, video of the actual events if possible, similar case examples, character of those involved, circumstantial evidence. Evidence. Hopefully, only real facts have been presented for public scrutiny, but even so, there’s always room for subjectivity. For instance, it’s a fact that Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun at a playground, and the gun was made to resemble a real weapon. Fact: someone called police to report a person with a gun, and police arrived in response to that call. Fact: Tamir Rice was shot to death by the responding police within a few seconds of their arrival on the scene. Those facts cannot be disputed, but the Tamir Rice case remains a painful and divisive controversy years after it occurred. Did the responding officers really tell him to drop the weapon, and the child failed to respond? Did the responding officers believe Tamir was older than he looked? Could the officers have employed another method of determining the level of risk, and done something other than shot to kill this 12-year old? That’s where subjectivity, bred by historical references and culturalism, poisons the well. Opinion: he should have followed the police commands, and he’s still be alive. Opinion: he shouldn’t have had that gun, even if it was a toy, in the first place. Opinion: the officers can’t take any chances, and if they believed his gun was real and he could have shot them, they had every right to shoot him. Opinions are rife with “if”, but here’s another fact: those of us with opinions were not at the scene, and we didn’t witness the actual events of that day. We weren’t there, we didn’t see nothin’, and we can’t prove a thing.

This quandry repeats for nearly every issue that arises in the media. Whether it’s an unarmed Black man shot to death by law enforcement officers, or a phone call that might be a shake-down of a foreign government by the top of the U.S. executive branch, we weren’t there. We have no choice but to live vicariously, and receive the accounts of the people who WERE there. If they are truthful, things should work out fine. But if they are not truthful, we have a problem. These days, we have a problem. We’ve been lied to so many times now, disbelief is more or less our default. Personally, I don’t trust ANYBODY’S first explanation. I’ll do my own research, thank you very much. That’s what I’m supposed to do – get as much information as I can, to make my own decision. Not get as much information as YOU can to make the decision YOU want me to make.

So. If I get information that I can, from reputable sources, and use that information to formulate my decision, I’ve done my job. If I’m wrong, so be it. If I’m wrong, hopefully I will learn from that. If I’m wrong, circumstances should judge me, not other humans. In the case of the decision I just made concerning my bladder … situation … if I’m wrong about the choice I’ve made, to not proceed immediately to a urologist, then the condition will worsen and I’ll have symptoms to let me know that. In doing that research, and considering my options, I’m looking for evidence. I’m looking for anecdotes, similar cases, comparable circumstances and their outcome. When one contemplates a real estate purchase, the realtor will offer the purchase prices of comparable properties. That’s evidence their proposal is not entirely outrageous, or out of line with the property value of similar circumstances. This is kind of how sound decision-making is supposed to work – gather evidence, look at lots of data, make your own decision accordingly.

When evidence is gathered, I have to remember that it’s not proof of a desired outcome. No matter how many cases of overactive bladder I may read about, none of them can offer proof of the outcome of my case. There are myriad variables – my overall health condition, my diet, my weight, and so on. No matter how many records of comparable properties a buyer may examie, they may find that a final deal on the property of their choice exceeds the average comparable sale in the area, for a variety of reasons…recent renovations, new roof, security system, customizations. Statistical averages are just that – averages. Not all situations are average. Proverbial bell curves and all that.

So. If someone is explaining cause of the California wildfires, they may cite reports on global warming, increased industrialization, etc. As a responsible consumer, I can take that information and formulate my own opinion. I’m fine with that, as long as it’s objective information, and not merely someone else’s opinion. Reports on global warming don’t begin with the premise “I feel” or “I believe”, they begin with the premise “Temperatures in the Norther Hemisphere have increased by x degrees over the past 200 years, and likewise, there’s been an increase in forest fires, and increasingly intense hurricanse, etc.”. I don’t know if I can decide that’s false evidence or not, but I suppose I can make an arbitrary decision to agree or disagree. If I agree, I should know why. Hopefully, I agree because I’ve done my own research, trusted data and experts, etc. If I disagree, I should also know why, and hopefully for the same reasons. In either case, if my stand is based solely on the opinion of someone else that i share self-interest, I feel like there’s a problem there. Just because I share a particular identity with another person, doesn’t mean that we agree everything, or anything. I’m Black, but heaven knows I don’t much agree with Clarence Thomas on much of anything. If he says the sky is blue, I’m at least going to check to make sure I agree. I’m Queer, and I rather like George Takei, but I don’t subscribe wholesale to his opiinions. I’m a Unitarian Universalist, and my faith requires that I honor responsible search for truth and meaning. If you’ve already made up your mind, and then close your mind to additional information (more or less the definition of closed-mindedness) then you and I may have very little to discuss. If your mind is made up, I find it a waste of time making efforts to change it. If you want to learn, if you are open to modifying your position after onboarding new information, then let’s talk.

If my search for truth and meaning begins with someone else’ search, i fail to see any opportunity for growth there. If my search for truth and meaning begins with what is patently untrue, I can’t even call that a search, for truth or meaning or anything else. Simply possessing an opinion on an issue does not constitute truth. Simply possessing copious data does not constitute proof. If one has arrived at what we consider proof, it is merely the overwhelming probability of a particular outcome, but given enough opportunity, the Universe’s sense of humor comes into play and there’s a one-in-a-million iteration of alternative result. We use data and logic and math to give us illusory control and gosh darned mind-readin’ skills. We’re looking for control again, but it’s usually pretty short-lived, if we get it at all. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is novel, new, it seemed to come out of nowhere. Well, we’re very smart, so we know what to do. We can beat this. We might disagree on how to do that, but we have the skills, we understand viruses. And so on we go, until…the virus throws a curve ball and mutates. And mutates again. All we can do is follow its lead, and hopefully react accordingly. It’s a good thing we’ve studied viral contagion so diligently all these years, but once again, we’re doing battle with Mother Nature, and the evidence does not point to a conclusion of ultimate and permanent victory for us. There is no cure for the influenza virus, there is no cure for the AIDS virus, or several other pathogenic or epigenic viruses. With scientific advances, we have managed to keep those viruses at bay by preventing infection on massive scales, which provides immunity, so we eliminate the hosts. The virus then cannot replicate, but we don’t exactly kill it, per se. That may be a small distinction, but I believe its an important one: when my mother died, I didn’t kill her, but she is nonetheless dead. There is no law against dying of natural causes, but there are laws against homicide (or specifically matricide). So, there you have it. We don’t need to be getting big headed about “defeating the pandemic”. We removed a healthy environment for it to spread, but we didn’t kill the virus. I hate when we get arrogant and start thinking we’re deities.

So, all that notwithstanding, and back to truth, justice and the American way. The American way is often full of neither truth nor justice, and we know this. When we begin electing people to national office that really believe in things like Jewish space lasers, we’re into delusion again. Reality has once again gotten too much for us to handle, too painful to see, too despairing to admit that we can’t control people dying and suffering. So, Jewish space lasers seems appropriate. It’s like a video game…there’s a clear enemy, and we just need to accrue the appropriate level of weaponry to defeat it. No sweat. If it’s an internet multiplayer game, we can find allies fairly easily, and consolidate firepower. If we’ve got enough allies, we probably don’t even need a good strategy – just blast the crap out of everything that’s wearing a different color than you, and that should do it. If it’s Jewish space lasers, then kill the Jews that made them. If it’s African killer bees, destroy Africa, where they came from. If it’s a virus that came from a bat in China, let’s get rid of all of them, the bats AND the Chinese. Problem with China, though, is there are way more of them than us, and I’m not sure we really want to work that hard. So, if “they” will just say over there, we’ll get onto that later. For now, we can make progress with blaming heartache and disaster on people and circumstances a little closer to home. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

I will have to say here that blame economy is not limited to dominant culture. It seems to be a part of human nature, to blame someone else or something else for undesirable circumstances that befall us, when bad things happen to good people. I think some of the issue is that we often presume that bad things should happen to other people, not to us. I can understand that. Nobody wants to raise their hand and volunteer for a bad experience, or a negative outcome. Well, maybe there are legitimate martyrs amonst us, but I would contend those are rare. There are unselfish people amongst us who are very altruistic and some, parents for example, who would die for another. I don’t know if they volunteered for that, however, as opposed to reacting altruistically in a given situation. I would consider myself fortunate to react entirely altruistically if finding myself in circumstances that required it. I cannot guaranteess how I might react – I have no proof of the likelihood of any outcome, and equal evidence for and against any probability. my only hope is that i have exercised my inner most Self, my Higher Self, the esoteric part of me that is closes to Source, closest to The Beginning, closest to Universal Truth…to inform the actions of my body and mind and that which is closest to the material. Or something like that. I cannot think my way into love, I cannot think my way into compassion, I cannot think myself into doing the right thing. Those are not thought processes, they are spiritual processes, they are relationship to something larger than my body and mind. I believe that relationship what an urge me toward Home, toward Light, toward something other than discord and diaspora. I said long ago that I believed we are all diasporic. When born on this Earth, we’re thrown out of the only home we’ve ever know in our mother’s womb. We can never duplicate that feeling of sustenance, warmth, safety, dependency. But we keep trying, we keep trying to get back to that, even though we don’t know that’s what we’re doing. I don’t know, but even though we do everything we can to be comfortable here, I somehow think we’re trying to get the hell out of here as soon as we open our eyes. There was a movie a while back, “Look Who’s Talking”, about the birth experience from the newborn’s perspective. Voice overs from the newborn, at the moment of birth, shouted “Put me back! Put me back!”. Willing to bet that’s not far from the truth, and maybe that’s why we’re all screaming as soon as we’re all the way out. I guess we’re still screaming. It’s just not cute any more.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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