We've all been there. A moment in time when something really ugly happens and you wonder "should I say something, should I do something."
I see it on the subway. Most recently a toddler was trailing behind his mom on the exit steps. She turned and bellowed "hurry the fuck up." She loomed over me, standing behind the little boy. Can you imagine what it was like for him; he's barely two feet tall. I wanted to say something but honestly it's like hitting a dog who's barking from fear. It doesn't help the barking, it doesn't teach the dog anything, and fundamentally it doesn't solve the problem. And frankly she scared me. And I'm more than five feet tall, and she doesn't control my food, shelter or security. I wanted to scoop up that kid and run off with him. Of course I didn't. I said nothing. I went home. And wept.
But you'd think that when someone falls to the floor in a hospital waiting room, even those of us who have passed by before would say something, anything. This breaks my heart as I'm sure it does yours.
Two years ago a friend from my childhood lost her life in the throes of mental illness. She wasn't admitted to Harborview because of a shortage of beds. I think of her often these days; it was she who introduced me to horse books, and started me on a lifelong love with all things horse. That's uppermost in my mind these days because of a book I just sold in which agent, editor and author are all horse-mad.
This makes me crazy with frustration. What does this say about us that we cannot protect the most vulnerable even when they are literally at the door of a hospital.
I don't even know what to do, how to vent my rage and frustration. I think if someone held a protest march about this, I'd go. And I'd scream. And yell. But mostly I would remember the powerful compelling words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: what you do to the least of these my brethren, you do to me.
You don't have to be a follower of Christ or believe in any god, to know implicitly in your very marrow that what we do to the least of these OUR brethren, is what we truly are. And what I am is ashamed.