Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tonight's Vigil

A quick post about the candlelight vigil I attended this evening on the Amherst, Massachusetts town common. About one hundred people showed up in a college town of 30,000 students. Granted, classes at UMASS haven't yet started but there were plenty of kids on the sidewalks and a few scattered around the common, that were not even curious about the event, let alone participating. It would be interesting to see one of these events happen when classes at UMASS are in session. I wouldn't be too surprised if the turn-out was very much as it was tonight. A bunch of aging and aged leftie progressives still trying to make our ourselves heard. It was so incredibly depressing. I just felt flattened and defeated. Honestly, I have no hope.  American politicians (and a lot of Americans) have decided that national healthcare is un-American. We're stuck with the consequences and I doubt the national mindset on this will ever change. It's hard to believe what the MoveOn organizers were passing around as literature:  that 83% of Americans support a single-payer healthcare system. It's mind boggling how if that figure is true, how can it be that it is not a reality? While I know the answers to that question all too well, the reasons are unacceptable to me. Yet I'm powerless to do anything about it except stand there with the rest of the crowd and and feel discouraged.

There is no leadership on the left. In a college town with a bumper crop of college professors, you'd think that someone eloquent, passionate and inspirational would sieze this opportunity to speak up. The healthcare stories are important and I admired and respected the people who stood up to tell theirs, but we need strong leadership on this issue. Where was my local senator? Where was the local clergy? Unions, anyone? If someone isn't there to attract the media, they don't come. They weren't there. It was all very sad and tired.

And as Spadoman pointed out in a comment on my last post:  the U.S. is fighting two wars and lack of healthcare is inextricably linked to lack of money to pay for it. The insurance industry is making massive amounts of money off us and anything from the government that could subsize those costs even minimally, is being sucked dry by the wars. We can't ask for single payer healthcare without demanding an end to these wars.

Keeping it local sounds nice, but the real media exposure should happen nationally. Well-mobilized efforts to gather tens of thousands of people in Washington to protest the wars and highlight our demands for change.  Until massive demonstrations start making it to the nighly news, there will be no change in attitude of the nation toward healthcare, nevemindr an actual program for all. For while it might be true that 83% of Americans support a national healthcare iniciative, not a whole lot of that percentage is speaking up.

Thanks for listening. I came home very discouraged.


  1. sorry that you are discouraged. i really have no encouragement- i have linked kbr to carcinogens in troops' water supplies and big pharma- pfizer was named in the nyt- 'discovered' cancer drugs as a way for stratospheric profits.

    supply and demand?

    anyway- i am sorry that you are disillusioned and discouraged. that makes me pained more than the distraction that is the health care debacle playing out in the msm.

  2. "Never doubt that a small band of committed people can change things; indeed are all that has ever changed them."
    Eleanor Roosevelt

    Aloha my friend, and thank you for the effect you DO cause!

    Comfort Spiral

  3. while I cannot say I am surprised, I will say that we must not give up hope that change will simply must and by that, it you probably know, I am one of those depressing stats about people who pay too much for too little insurance [no bennies for farmers and there never will be!] and everything medical out of pocket...we are slowly depleting our resources in a serious way because of my chronic health problems ... it has come to where we cannot help our children financially when they desperately need help with their own tough times. will that wake up that generation? I certainly hope so--how disturbing is that part of your story -- the low attendance and complete lack of interest of young people in attendance[or not] at the meeting!

    It is a slow roll downhill but it is picking up speed and, though most cannot afford to fly to DC to protest, the lack is felt in a multitude of other ways in monies not spent. I believe it is being felt by most large corps in this country and will continue to hurt more deeply as most of us are really in a very tight bind. I say stop spending, especially for the upcoming holidaze.

    Don't give up your hope nor your attendance at whatever meetings you can attend...while it is especially sad it was not well attended given the recent loss of Senator Kennedy, a hero if there ever was one, I believe there will be another who will eventually fill his shoes...

    and if not, we are sunk and will all go live in a commune, build a hospital, good schools, and be mindful of the needs of it's citizens...yes, I am an idealist, a dreamer, and I will not give those up.

    much love and keep on keeping on.

  4. I just got the post-vigil email from and it sounds like the big city demonstrations made it to the front of the Times and the Post.
    I figured that would be the case, but I think Amherst can do better. And instead of complaining, I should sign up to help them out, shouldn't I?

  5. Grassroots activism can be frustrating in the early stages. However, showing up and publicizing small protests like that is a critical first step towards building something bigger.

    You and the rest of the people who showed up did incredibly important work. Keep speaking up. You are helping to change the view of this on the ground.

    There was an old ACT UP/LA slogan I remember:

    "We're All Leaders"

  6. Everyone thanks for helping me lighten up a bit with your comments. I'm not usually that pessimistic. But the event just really saddened me. Perhaps that had more to do with my own emerging identity as an "older" person. I don't really feel old yet but the gentleman in the photograph could me or WP or any one of us in our 50's, just a couple of decades from now. I can't even remember now but I believe he shared a brief story of inadequate health coverage and/or helped to organize the event.

    Libhomo: you are such a dedicated activist, rarely failing to acknowledge my "everywoman" type posts on human issues. Thank you.

  7. I think you're right that a lot of the impetus has to come from the younger generation. Our older leftie generation can't do it all again but we could help. It's shocking to read that such a high percentage of adult children up to the age of 35 are still living with or have moved back with their parents.

    People are either depressed by the current situation, too busy and exhausted from trying to make ends meet or completely taken in by the corporate media barrage of misinformation. Nevertheless, it was wonderful that the two of you went and perhaps it's still true that we are all leaders.

  8. The lies of the Radical Right have once again been persistent and repeated, and haven't been adequately rebuffed, so I can imagine a lot of ill-informed people sitting on their hands rather than standing for something they haven't really been sold.

    And college kids are mostly young, healthy and insured by their parents or through low-cost school insurance.

    When they leave school and have to try to obtain/afford health insurance while they're paying back their loans, they'll remember seeing you folks on the common, and perhaps start to make some noise.

    Thanks for being there to support the cause. Sorry it wasn't a more positive vigil, but then, the stories of people suffering for lack of health care are pretty sad.

  9. We had a vigil here last Wed night. I helped organize and publicize it. Twitter is a great way to get the word out. I also call the local tv stations and the news papers so we got good coverage. One hysterical heckler who seemed to be pushing a book. I called him a spammer and it became a taunt. He shut up and went away.

    Today there were photos in the paper and I am there in the crowd. I'm proud to be an activist again. This is the issue that matters to me now. Yes, I have the public option I want you to have. I want to see the insurance companies driven out of business. They have sucked the blood of the nation long enough. Their obscene profits should shame the nation.

  10. Linda: historically, Americans have mobilized and traveled to the nation's capital to make their voices heard. Keeping it local is more environmentally sound and more practical, I suppose, but this was something really profound about 10s of 1000's gathering together for a common cause.

    Utah: Next time I will ask the coordinator how I can help.

  11. I think it is very difficult for the very young to handle the reality of a possible need for health care. and I am sure many are turned off by the current propaganda that they have heard too much of.

    As my son said to me today, it doesn't matter at all if a bill is passed or what it says - so long as the lobbyists are allowed to remain in D.C. throw them out, and all kinds of good things could come to be. It isn't going to happen of course.

    By the way, your riddle is the riddle of the Sphinx. Didn't think we noticed, did you? the answer is: Man


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