Monday, March 15, 2010


So yesterday I went to my friend Carmen's wedding. It was lovely to see someone who both was in love and who believed in love. Enough to make big promises. Going to weddings always makes me reflect on my own lack of a wedding. I got married at the courthouse and went back to the lab to finish my high vacuum ESR experiment which involved reduction of a calixquinone on metallic potassium. Yeah, I was pretty busy that day. My parents got the requisite 48 hour notice and one had to fly in from Sacramento. I went to lunch and said enough celebration already, my ESR cell is under vacuum folks. My parents understood. And so did my husband, which is an awesome sign for compatibility, no? But he's a chemist too, so I guess he got it. My mom (an artist and former dancer) was worn down at that point by three decades of tomboyism. When I started rock climbing a few years later, she didn't even flinch. 

Anyway, the interesting thing is that when I met my husband, there was just some sort of click. It was like instant getting along, and that's considering that I'm really a pretty cynical person when it comes to things like that. But Carmen didn't feel that connection the first time she met John. She was in a different place mentally and didn't see him again for a year and then they happened, truly by chance and the intervention of two friends of mine who are sisters, to meet again at a philanthropic event. It was instant chemistry that time. The timing was just right.

Timing, or as Jung would have called it, synchronicity, is such an odd thing. There was Senator Obama's timing in being elected the junior senator from Illinois and giving that memorable speech at the 2004 DNC. He caught fire and ignited hopes in so many for a different America. A different future. A different ethos. Where did it all go? Where is that man today? The gulf between idealism and pragmatism has turned out to be so very, very wide.

I'm seriously considering peeling my Obama sticker off my car. Or I could alter it to read "Change I Wish I Could Believe In". Or "Change I No Longer Believe Will Happen".

A case in point: What happened to healthcare reform? The bill that is before us is a pale shadow of what we were promised. If passed, it will be a reason for conservatives to point out, for the next 15 or 20 years, that we already have a healthcare reform bill. I was looking earlier at the OED on my Mac. Here's the definition of Reform:

a plan to reform the systemimprovebettermake betteramelioraterefinealtermake alterations tochangeadjustmake adjustments toadaptamendrevisereshaperefashionredesignrestylerevamprebuildreconstructremodelreorganize.after his marriage he reformedmend one's wayschange for the betterturn over a new leafimprove.nounthe reform of the prison systemimprovementameliorationrefinementalterationchangeadaptationamendmentrevision,reshapingrefashioningredesigningrestylingrevamprevampingrenovationrebuildingreconstructionremodeling,reorganizingreorganization.
I guess it's sad to say that I'm really questioning so much of what our political system can accomplish. Of course, the judicial branch hasn't helped much, what with giving special interests the right to buy our elections. I still reread John Paul Stevens' dissent every once in a while.

Ken Heinen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, and Justice John Paul Stevens at the Supreme Court in 2005.

From the bench, he was quoted as saying variously:

"The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."

“The rule announced today — that Congress must treat corporations exactly like human speakers in the political realm — represents a radical change in the law. The court’s decision is at war with the views of generations of Americans.”

In his written dissent, he stated:

“Such an assumption would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by ‘Tokyo Rose’ during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders.”

and most memorably:

“While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.”

How much has the healthcare insurance industry and big pharma paid into the US Congress to steer things their way? I shudder to imagine. They were probably using your premiums and mine to do it. And I am so very sure we will pay the price not just for not having a good reform bill, but for assuring that we don't have a good reform bill.

So I look at all the politics and I think to myself that timing really is everything, and sadly, the time for change appears to have passed us by.

I'm so happy for Carmen and John and that the timing was right for them. And I'm so sad for all the many people I know, and see around me, who needed not just change they could believe in, but healthcare.

1 comment:

  1. Absofreakinglutely brilliant.
    I am never blogging again. I shall just redirect my 7 readers here and look smart by association.