Sunday, January 29, 2017

Diagnosis: self-inflicted wounds

Every so often, a team (or individual athlete) comes along that's so good that the only way they can be stopped is to beat themselves. When they lose, it's from a self-inflicted wound.

It's the Seattle Seahawks in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XLIX, throwing an underneath pass from the New England Patriots' 1-yard line that was intercepted instead of handing the football to one of the best running backs in the game for the winning score.

It's the number one-ranked tennis player in the final of a Grand Slam tightening up and double-faulting on match point.

It's one of the top pro golfers of an era on the fairway of the 17th hole of the final round of a major with a 4-shot lead, deciding to go for the green in one (and finding a bunker) rather than taking the safe layup.

It's the U.S. health care system, which should be the envy of the world, lavishing nearly $10,000 per American on health services each year, but wasting billions on excessive administrative costs, unnecessary and harmful interventions, a fragmented delivery system, rationing care by ability to pay, and colossally failing to invest in primary care and community services that are the foundation for good health outcomes.

It's President Trump's discriminatory (and possibly illegal) executive order to halt immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries under the guise of "national security." Did Osama bin Laden really believe that the result of the 9/11 attacks would be armies of jihadists lining up for more suicide strikes on the U.S.? Or instead, did the Al Qaeda leader perhaps envision an injured America turning in on itself and dying slowly from a torrent of self-inflicted wounds: racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, among other epidemics of dark suspicion of those who aren't like us? Like many of you, my family has an immigration story, and I stand in solidarity with those unfortunate souls who are being turned away or detained tonight at the airports all over the country solely because of where they came from.

The patient - America - is in critical condition, but may yet be saved by heroic measures. Don't wait. Protest peacefully. Sign a petition. Call your Congressional representative. And remember the words of pastor Martin Niemöller, who spent seven years in a Nazi concentration camp:

First they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the Trade Unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left to speak for me