Don Beck (Spiral Dynamics) talks about the problems we try to solve only to find a new set of problems created by each new set of solutions. While his preoccupation is primarily cultural (having inspired Nelson Mandela himself, see the film Invictus for a brilliant account), I can attest that I’ve had loads of personal experience along these same lines.
I escaped the chaos and disconnect of urban life to discover isolation of an entirely different sort with rural life and solved that with a deeper connection to nature and spirituality only to find those bounties result in a new set of problems still–of them Spiritual Bypass threatens to be the most serious. That’s when you become so good at meditating, praying and living above the problems of the real world that you completely disengage from them and then officially become a member of the Kumbaya Club with whom you may or may not join in singing and dancing at the airport.
But thank the heavens I’m still a long way from that. I’m dealing now with the paradox of abundance, and to make it more paradoxical still, I’m headed soon to the Results Conference in DC to try to help solve the problem of world hunger.
So here I ponder, with piles of tomatoes spanning every countertop and three freezers already full to the brim. Shall I fill every shelf with canned surplus too? Should I waste the hours and gas to take the surplus to the Food Bank though my eyes have told me these folks are far from hungry? Which should I heed-my moral impulse, which stands firm against donating to those not actually in need-or my practical impulse, which is damn sick of seeing tomatoes?
There’s another problem with taking the surplus to the Food Bank to give away to folks who can clearly afford to shop, and that is, what about the local farmers? Don’t I have a responsibility to them too? They’re spending a lot of time and energy to sell their produce, so how does me giving mine away serve them at all? It doesn’t, of course, it most likely hinders their potential sales!
Which brings me to another paradoxical set of problems and solutions: ObamaCare. One of my oldest and dearest friends and I recently had a brief debate on the topic when he promptly concluded we must “agree to disagree.” Not my strong suit, as he well knows. I prefer the problems solved, so I have the mental energy and space to move on to the next set of problems.
But ObamaCare and the arguments, especially here in Texas, just seem to go round and round. On the one hand, as a highly sensitive and compassionate individual who loves Europe to a fault, I think universal health care sounds just peachy. I believe folks should not be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. I think health insurance should be affordable to everyone. Not to mention that I like immigrants, they spice up my life and my cuisine, so I’d like to see them feel safe and healthy here. Even the illegal ones! Also, I have issues with hypocrisy, especially my own. I’ve been illegal in other countries, and my health care was still free or very affordable.
On the other hand, I have issues with paying for my countrymen’s addictions to sugar, tobacco, extreme sports, laziness or workaholism. After all, I don’t see anyone in this country lining up to subsidize my poor choices. Not to mention, when I get sick, which is extremely rare, I choose the nutritionist or naturopath, chiropractor or acupuncturist. Those are very rarely covered by any insurance. So, from what I understand, which I admit is very little considering the worthless onslaught of mainstream debate, is that not only must I pay for my health insurance, and “theirs,” but I still have to pay out of pocket for the kind of care I actually use.
Hmmm, what am I missing here? Might we be trying to solve the wrong set of problems?
I’m open for debate . . .