As a teaching assistant at the University of Pittsburgh and as an adjunct lecturer in the CUNY system of higher education in New York, I have always expressed to my students that it is of great importance that they learn how to channel their passions and passionate feelings into intelligent and coherent text. Actually, I have tried to impress upon them that it is imperative for their future and for my future that they express their authentic selves in the world. I have always been honored by the honesty and profound insight and intelligence of my students (yes, including you two—Giggle Twins!). But, today, I read something that made me so angry that I am having a difficult time behaving in accordance with this sound advice. Actually, I’m starting to doubt that a quiet and complacent attempt to express with “intelligent passion” isn’t what has brought us to this terrible place to begin with!
What made me so angry? On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Bart Stupak, apparently just one of a dozen House Democrats who feel this way, has indicated that he is willing to block healthcare reform if it includes provisions that will pay for abortions. What exactly did I feel so angry about? Well, I think there’s a LIST of things actually, but most important is–EXACTLY WHO DOES THIS GROUP OF TWELVE REPRESENT? Not only do I personally not feel represented, I am not sure that the planet I live on is represented. By this, I am not suggesting that House Representative Stupak is from a different planet, I’m afraid we’re both standing on earth. I mean that my sense of reality is a completely different worldview than that of Representative Stupak and the team of twelve that he so bravely “represented” on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Our government is based on the idea that each and every citizen has a voice that they exercise by voting for a representative who, will then, in term, represent the whole to the best of their ability. But, what happens to this system of government, to this Democracy, when the representatives are more concerned with representing themselves than their constituents.
What Representative Stupak said was, “Let’s face it. I want to see healthcare. But we’re not going to bypass the principles of belief that we feel strongly about.” What exactly are those principles of belief? For me, this post is not how I feel about abortion or the use of federal dollars for abortion. This post is how I feel that someone must represent women, children and famillies and we need leaders who are big enough to say, “I don’t like it, but abortion is legal. As I am most dedicated to a healthcare plan that promotes the health of ALL women, children and families equally, I will vote for a healthcare plan that provides all legal services to all citizens that are required for their health and well-being.” While I think that the fact that Representative Stupak is a considerate man with a strong sense of moral right is positive attribute in a leader, I think that the idea that a PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVE is more dedicated to his own beliefs than he is to the public health is deplorable.
Here is where my passion comes in. I honestly believe that anyone who stands in the way of healthcare is standing in the way of something that can not be stopped. Eventually, the public will “win.” The United States, according to the CIA World Factbook, in terms of infant mortality, is the 46th safest country to have a baby in. What does Representative Stupak think about all the lives of infants lost due to sub-standard or non-existant prenatal care? Does he care as much about these born and dead as he does about the imagined? I don’t even want to get into maternal mortality rates in the United States….what about these lives? Are the lives of women part of Representative Stupak’s belief system?
Here is the problem. I am sure that Representative Stupak and his team of twelve would be more than happy to explain their story to me. Their belief system would seem just as other-worldly as my way of thinking seems to them. This is where the yoga comes in. No, I will not pray with passion that something mean, like a lifetime of fortune cookies with no fortune, happen to these representatives. I pray with my body through asana, through my meditations on compassion and through every interaction I have with every human I interact with. I pray for the authenticity and power of my spirit and my message to reach my representatives, wherever they are!
If you represent me, you represent life. You represent an ability to express compassion towards all living things, especially living beings that are suffering. If you represent me, it means that you have more power than I do and that, as my representative, you will use this power to communicate the multitude of voices that you represent. If you represent me, you represent a woman who has chosen to create and carry life—a mother. You represent someone who understands in her bones that to conceive is an act of faith and that a mother makes choices for herself and for her conceived that every man should pray in thanks tonight that he does not ever have to make. To all the REPRESENTATIVES—–please, start doing your job and stop stalling! The future of our country depends on your ability to set aside the petty vocabulary of the present, so you can, in good faith, plan for the future health of our country.