I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need to worry about right now is if my credit card interest rates are going to skyrocket, the banks are going to stop lending, or what the precarious future of my investment portfolio will be like if those folks in Washington don’t figure out how to all just get along. My oldest son will start college in one year, and because the new governor of the great state of Florida has already done away with the state funded scholarships for college enrollees, my son, along with thousands of others, will have to rely on student loans or a chunk of cash from the bank of mom and dad. And because our school district’s budget, like every other one in the country, has been whittled away to skeletal proportions, our family will have to fork over nearly two thousand dollars for school supplies and related educational costs in the first few weeks of the school year. So as I lay in bed trying not to let the stress, fear and worry consume my already anxious and easily agitated mood, I fall back on my mantras and meditation techniques, and wonder if perhaps the guys and gals on the hill couldn’t benefit from a little therapeutic intervention of their own.
There’s obviously a communication gap between the parties. Regardless of what they say in their sound bites, I don’t believe either side has really demonstrated any true active listening. It reminds me of a couple who, regardless of the issue at hand, always ends up fighting about the same thing. Sure, this time it’s the debt ceiling, last time it was funding the wars, and before that it was the big bailout and TARP. But ironically, it always ends up being about taxes and cuts. And just like those spouses who wind up on opposite ends of the leather couch, the politicians end up on opposite sides of the aisle. Perhaps a good relationship therapist could recommend Mars and Venus, or Imago Relationship Therapy for them. Maybe what those folks need is a little mirroring exercise to get them validating each other’s perspective and evoking some genuine empathy.
Perhaps we, the constituents, could offer a little incentive to move these rather imperative talks along in the right direction. We might be able to entice the suits by reminding them that if the millions of seniors and disabled people who rely on Medicare, social security and other entitlements do not receive their payments in August, the stress, anxiety and depression rates will skyrocket and cause a run on the overburdened and underfunded healthcare system. If the economy hiccups and develops a serious infection as a result of poor compromising and communication skills, businesses will lay more people off and many mental health professionals, most of whom are already underpaid, will be forced to leave the profession that is in desperate need of their services, and seek other employment. Facilities will close, clinics will be understaffed and those who are in a mental crisis, whether as a result of a plummeting portfolio, pre-existing problem, or situational depression caused by job loss or homelessness, will suffer most. The psychological and physical health of millions could decline and there is the very real potential for suicide rates to climb.
Ah, but it all goes back to taxes and cuts. Because we know that the folks in Washington do not stay up at night wondering if they will be able to afford their treatment. They do not wait for the third of the month to arrive so that they can buy a few meager groceries. And they do not worry about losing the mental health benefits that they rely on from the country they served. No. They only worry about who wins. Well guess what politicians? If you don’t get your heads out of your partisan pants, we all lose. And nobody likes to be a loser.
© Copyright 2011 by Jen Wilson. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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