The moon was a melon wedge encircled by a halo, adrift in a quilted swirl, when Koko and I went walking this morning. In a patch of clear sky to the east, I saw Venus with a much fainter sidekick that I later identified as Mercury on the handy-dandy AstroViewer site.
It also informed me that the three stars lined up next to the moon were part of the constellation known as Sea Serpent. They and many others became visible when the swirls swept south, leaving a black sky brightening in anticipation of a dawn that arrived as geometric shapes glowing orange in a bank of purple coastal clouds.
One of the most highly anticipated promises of President Obama’s campaign – health care reform — is proving to be yet another giant disappointment as the Senate Finance Committee today votes on a bill that has been heavily co-opted by the insurance industry. With no public option, and a requirement that even people who don’t want, and can’t afford, medical insurance must buy it — with the government kicking in subsidies as needed — it looks a lot more like big business as usual than “reform.”
The insurance industry is pulling out all the stops in its bid to frighten the sheep-like public, and so their representatives, by claiming that reforms will drive up premium costs for everyone else. If that was true, and the industry-sponsored report seems suspect, it seems to make a good case for the single-payer approach.
As for me, it seems that once again, we’re putting the cart before the horse. So long as we eat crap, spend a good portion of our lives immobile in front of the TV, offer no health education in school and view prescription drugs and surgery as cure-alls, we’re never going see reductions in the cost of health care and insurance premiums — or the ill health that’s behind them.
Speaking of ill health, journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich has a very interesting interview today on Democracy Now! about her experience with breast cancer and her disgust with the “ideology of positive thinking,” which she links to the “mass delusion” that helped cause the financial meltdown.
Ehrenreich dissed the idea that “you can control things with your mind if you just have the right thoughts and ideology.”
She’s right to criticize books and movies like “The Secret,” which over-focused on the material rewards of mind power, promising people they could have it all if they just focused their thoughts on it.
Still, you can’t dismiss the idea that our thoughts play a huge role in how we approach and live life, and that by gaining some awareness of our thoughts — which I call the consciousness movement — we can most definitely change how we function in the world. And one by-product of that effort to live with awareness is generally a more positive outlook. Or at least, that’s been true in my own experience.
Of course, the power of positive thinking is nothing new. Consider Voltaire’s 18th Century classic, “Candide,” which parodied the prevailing philosophy of optimism and its beliefs that “all is for the best” — which lives on as the popular “it’s all good” — and “everything will work out in the end,” which I find myself parroting at times, because at one level, it's true, even if that end is mass annihilation of the human species.
While Ehrenreich specifically absolved Obama, and his campaign of hope, by saying that she does not believe he is deluded in his thinking, one has to wonder if it was a belief in the power of positive thinking that prompted the Nobel Committee to award Obama the Peace Prize, even though he’s authorized a war that regularly kills civilians with drones in Afghanistan and is mulling a big build up of troops there.
As Journalist Naomi Klein noted in another Democracy Now! interview:
And even just listening to the rationale that, despite overwhelming evidence, they’re giving this prize in the hopes that it will change Obama’s mind or encourage him to do things he hasn’t done—this is a candidate that ran a campaign that was much more based on hope and wishful thinking than it was on concrete policy. So we have hopes being piled on hope and wishful thinking.