Sunday, February 10, 2008

Something stronger than shame

I helped out at a yard sale yesterday to raise funds for the American Cancer Society's upcoming Relay For Life event, with which I am involved this year. I'll write more about that later this week, but feel free to click the link to take a glimpse...and contribute (if you already have, Thank You).

Anyway, after the sale was over we still had a few piles of stuff that, understandably, nobody wanted to take back home. So we all split it up and took it to other worthy charitable drop offs. Clothing went to Goodwill and household items went to the Salvation Army. As for me, I loaded up the books and drove them over to the local VA hospital, specifically the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital. It's something I've done before and it's something I dread every single time.

I hope I don't sound self righteous here, mostly because that would be insincere, but it's something stronger than shame that I feel every time I go to the VA hospital. And I find it hard to believe that anybody else wouldn't feel the same way. Whether it's putting an American flag in the front yard, slapping a magnet on a car or voting for the people who say what sounds like the right things, I can't believe anybody can ever enter one of these places and not immediately want to re-examine what it means to "support the troops". A VA hospital is less a place of healing than it is a repository for damaged, lonely, used up people. I frequently hear people in positions of power sermonize about the sanctity of human life. These are people who should visit one of these places and take a good look at what we do with those we send away to do the dirtiest work imaginable when they no longer serve our purposes. Not all of them, of course. Just the ones who inconvenience us by not coming back either unscathed or dead. Those troublesome folks who are still alive but missing pieces of their bodies and/or psyches and are just no good to us anymore. To them we give a wheelchair, a pat on the back and maybe an old, unwanted paperback book or two. And that's not a shame. It's something stronger.

No comments: