The American people are stuck, by no fault of their own, between a rock and a hard place, or worse yet, a rock and a rock; The House of Representatives and the Senate. These two rocks make up the boulder that is Congress, and Congress has decided to squeeze Americans to the brink of hopelessness and desperation by closing the government. As a result, workers have been furloughed, mothers are having trouble feeding their children since the suspension of the WIC program, the Head-Start program for low income preschool children and their families has been shut down and the Centers for Disease Control has closed its influenza program that tracks the flu and helps people get vaccinated. As a disabled American who’s life was once almost taken by a raging case of the flu, not being able to get a vaccine will put my health in real danger. Congress has become paralyzed, and its condition is contagious, spreading throughout the American people like wildfire. What is so shameful about our government’s current circumstances is they are choosing to be paralyzed, but the American people that they are paralyzing have no choice. A single mother didn’t choose to lose her WIC benefits, a four-year-old little boy didn’t choose for him and his family to stop being a part of the Head-Start program and it is not my choice to skip getting the flu vaccine. The programs I am mentioning are only a few examples of what folks are being forced to do without because the government chose to shutdown. Even the multiple death benefits veterans and their families are entitled to have been revoked and at the very least, modified. What is happening to the content of moral courage of the country these people sacrificed their lives for?
To this American, the most shameful element in the current malfunction of our government is that Congress is choosing to be rocks, having no give, no compromise or thought of accommodation of those they represent. I am not normally a cynical person, but I have come to believe since Congress and their families will have what they need throughout this shutdown, Congress in no hurry. Under any circumstances, I do not wish harm or ill health to anyone. However, I also have come to believe if a member of Congress or their loved ones needed a program that has been closed since this recent shutdown, such as a clinical trial that was a last resort to an individual with cancer, egos would be placed aside and communication would be the order of the day. If they really wanted to, the members of Congress could find some wiggle room in their chosen rock formation and begin taking baby steps towards a government whose sign shines bright with the illuminating words “Welcome, Open 24 Hours”.
I end with my favorite quote from Gandhi that keeps me on the path in life I wish to lead, and when I stray, even without meaning to, it always brings me back. “It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”