Caring Matters

The other day I came across a post about “9 things Italians living in the US will miss“, and while I concurred with everything posted, the one that spoke to me most was the one about family living close by. Oh, how I miss that! But it goes further than that. It’s the whole culture, the whole mindset that came to mind while I was reading this post. The mindset of caring for one another in a broader sense. In the U.S. most kids move away from home, following job opportunities across the country, moving far away from home, often right at the age of 18. It’s not like Italians are not like that, but they are the minority. Money does not drive us. Family does. We are always together, while the only time a whole family comes together in the US is for big holidays such as Thanksgiving.

So, in the US, families are broken, and the “caring” part is often forgotten. Is that the reason why we don’t care as much about one another? One cannot help but wonder…  Of course we should care, but I don’t know how to explain to someone why they should care about other people. I don’t know how to convince someone how to have compassion and how important it is to care for one another. But if making sure your fellow citizens can afford to eat, get an education, and go to the doctor isn’t enough of a reason to fund those things, I have nothing to say to you.

I am a weird bird. I consider myself both Italian and American. I am both. I am both adventurous and longing for family. While on one hand I would not change a thing about my life (well, only a few), on the other, I still wish I was in Italy while I want to be traveling and running around and experiencing things more. From my son, however, I learned a great deal about surviving hardships. How truly important family is. How to be tenacious and optimistic in the face of adversity. To follow my instincts, to learn how to handle the most harrowing circumstances. I learned what empathy, compassion and caring truly means.

I was thrown into this “special needs” world nearly 21 years ago and I have heard it all. People that have healthy children are often saying things like: “Of course the sick should pay more, they use insurance more!”  They seem to forget that we already pay more. More co-pays, more appointments, more prescriptions, more tests, all to just stay alive! We already pay far more for health care than any average healthy able-bodied person. We are not rolling in money, if anything we earn a lot less and have a lot less money available for lavish vacations and big mansions rather than using that money to pay for all our office visit copays and bills for what insurance won’t cover. I am not responsible for my son’s disability. He did not choose to be disabled. He did not choose to have a genetic disorder. 

Let me make this as clear as possible: all the good choices in the world would not have prevented my son’s condition. He should not have to prove his worth to you. He should not have to prove his right to exist to you.

I find it interesting how in the US we show patriotism by putting the flag everywhere, by singing the anthem before every sports game, or by having the kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before school starts, all the while we send young men to war. In Vietnam the average age of the men that died was 19. I do not think it’s patriotic to send good men to die. Call me crazy.

No, Italy is not perfect by any means, but we show patriotism differently. We show by having certain laws that have been passed as long ago as the late 1940s that make healthcare a right, not a privilege. Laws that make College tuition affordable. Laws that are aimed at living in a civilized society where we all help one another. Taxes are higher, certainly, but we do not have to pay an insurance premium for health care or the exorbitant prices for college, among other things. As Thomas Jefferson once said: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” An intelligent population is actually a GOOD thing!!!

In other words, as Hillary Clinton said in her book “It takes a village”, “We simply cannot wait for a tornado, a fire, or a flood to behave like Americans ought to behave in dealing with one another.”

Love & Light,

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