Femininity is universally associated with beauty, softness, tenderness, receptivity, relationship, and caring. While some equate these qualities with weakness, Spirit Warriors know they make us stronger than we ever imagined possible. Of the many symbols suggesting this kind of strength, none speaks as strongly to me as the caryatid.
Caryatids are gigantic columns or pillars in the form of beautiful, fully draped females. A very old architectural device, they were originally used to support immense entablatures in sacred public buildings. In ancient times it was said that seven priestesses founded major oracle shrines. These priestesses had different names in various parts of the world. In the Middle East they were known as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, hence their common usage as columns holding up temple roofs. These same pillars are referred to in Proverbs 9:1: “Wisdom [Sophia] hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.” On the Acropolis at Athens, caryatids are associated with the strong and independent goddess, Artemis Caryatis, from whom they get their name.
My first glimpse of caryatids at the British Museum filled me with awe and wonder. In them I saw feminine beauty, gentleness, independence, spirituality and mystery blended with majestic, connected, sense of community, and the immovable strength and indomitable will to take a stand for social responsibility. I was looking at the Queen archetype.
A defining characteristic of the caryatid’s strength is her queenly way of serving society. She is strong enough to support huge public buildings in which many activities take place every day, but never takes on more than she can handle, never gets crushed under the weight of her responsibilities.
Nor does she claim godlike perfection and omnipotence for herself: no savior complex for her! She simply receives what she is strong enough to receive; contains what she is large enough to contain; gives what is hers to give. Her strength is not based on compulsions to prove anything or pretend to be something she is not, but on a clear understanding of the nature of her gifts, dimensions of her interior space, and limits of her strength and authority.
Like caryatids, mature Queens have a strong need to nurture their communities. They are pillars of society who are always there to listen and understand; share in pain or joy; defend the innocent, weak, vulnerable and disenfranchised; and advance culture. They have a quiet, grounded strength that does not belittle, gossip, or betray confidences. They accept without rejecting differing opinions and protect without exploiting weakness. They do not relinquish softness; rather theirs is the softness of the lioness, not the lamb. Although receptive, they are never doormats. They nurture but never smother. Theirs is the warm and life-giving receptivity of the womb, not the cold hardness of the tomb.
Caryatids and Queens stand tall and firm with eyes wide open. With steadfast devotion and resolve they support institutions and endeavors which are in everyone’s best interest. We emulate their strength when we subordinate our ego’s will to the greater good and work for the betterment of all without betraying our personal standpoints.
Historically, the feminine principle in all of us–and the women onto whom patriarchy projects it–has endured thousands of years of negative stereotypes and repression. We are fortunate to live in a time when women are finally taking positions of leadership in the mainstream of society. Some of them are very angry. Can you blame them? I, for one, cannot.
Everyone, male or female, who has ever been repressed, abused, dismissed, taken for granted, or struggled to be taken seriously and heard with respect goes through a rage stage before they grow wise enough to take responsibility for their angry shadow and attain their full wisdom and power. History shows that for people of strong character and good will, given enough time and experience, their anger over the injustices they have suffered eventually dissolves and is replaced with an ethic of care, compassion, justice, and social responsibility.
This is true both of individuals and the civilizations we produce. After all, wasn’t it the rage of our forebears at the injustices they suffered in other countries that brought most of them to America? Didn’t that rage give rise to the wisdom that drove the writing of the Declaration of Independence? Didn’t it fuel the Revolutionary War and secure the ratification of the U.S. Constitution?
Underneath our wounds, deep in our unconscious selves, every one of us contains the capacity to develop the Queen’s determination and indomitable will to do the right thing: to support, protect, and nurture everyone in our society, regardless of age, gender, race, social class, or religion. May we all, female and male alike, manifest more of this wise use of feminine strength.
My friends: Back at my computer after a few weeks of travel, I find that a reader liked this blog post from March 23, 2012. Seven and a half years later it still rings true. So for those who haven’t delved that deeply into my archives, here it is again. Enjoy. I’ll be back with more news soon.
How can human beings possibly know the nature of God? We can’t, of course. Yet ever since our species realized we were alive and part of a vast living Mystery, we’ve been trying. And whether we’re religious or not, most of us have some ideas about this Mystery. It seems to me we look at God from three major perspectives.
Objective Facts: Using mathematics and tools like X-rays, electrocardiograms, telescopes and microscopes, Science looks for factual information about the mysterious origins, forces, and laws of physical life.
Abstract Theories: Religion interprets the Mystery of life in words, theories, symbols, scriptures, and stories about enlightened spirit persons whose wisdom, compassion, and passion for social justice bring healing and hope.
Personal Truths: Psychology encourages us to explore the mysterious workings of our hearts and minds for insights that bring awe, compassion, and self-knowledge, and to express our experience of the Sacred in creative ways that reflect our individuality.
Until very recently these three perspectives were sharply separated. Scientific investigations took place in laboratories, religious ones in places of worship, and psychological ones in consulting rooms, art studios, and asylums. Moreover, since the invention of alphabets, the viewpoints of religions have predominately shaped humanity’s God-images.
But this is changing. The universal access to information that technology brings is closing the gaps, and our differing perspectives no longer totally separate us from ourselves, each other, or God. In fact, they are merging into a deeper, more unifying vision. This is deeply disturbing to those who prefer separation to connection, simplicity to paradox, and certitude to dialogue.
However, those who seek truth and understanding find it refreshing and inspiring. Why? Because the newest insights and discoveries from science, religion and psychology confirm the same intuition that spirit persons from every place and time have always shared: that a primary characteristic of the sacred Mystery is Unity in Multiplicity.
Consider the myriad forms of life on our planet. Each has a separate reality of its own yet all live together in one giant, inter-connected home. Look at the variety of religions that have sprung up over the millennia. Despite cultural differences they all speak the same language of love, compassion, tolerance, and the sanctity of life. Look at different individuals. No two are exactly alike, yet we all share the same matter, physiological systems, instinctual drives, and archetypal inheritance. And all our parts work together to help our bodies and species thrive.
Three perspectives; one Mystery. A Holy Trinity as it were. Unity in Multiplicity.
I can think of nothing more sacred than the miracle of life. Without it there would be no science, religion, or psychology. No miracles, healing, or compassion. No people with ideas about God. No God. If the nature of God is expressed in Unity in Multiplicity and we are each living, breathing participants in that Unity, then we are in God and God is in us.
How would your life be different if you held this image of God in your mind as you went through each day? How would the world be different if humanity shared this God-image?
“There is no consciousness without discrimination of opposites.” ~Carl Jung, CW 9i: §178
For some time now I’ve wanted to write about the U.S.A.’s upcoming presidential election in a thoughtful, non-polarizing way, but couldn’t find a theme. I found it last week in this quote:
“The time is ripe for the unconscious and conscious dominants to meet each other. The death of the old dominant is indicated by the fact that the king is about to die. This corresponds to the fact that the God-image, the collective dominant of the Western psyche, is moribund. In preparation for its death, it opens up an ancient tomb; in other words it opens up the unconscious. This activates the feminine principle, which had been dead and buried in the very same tomb, in the unconscious. As the tomb is opened, the unconscious is penetrated by consciousness . . . and a revitalization occurs.” ~ Edward Edinger
Carl Jung believed that resolving the problem of opposites was the major challenge of our time. The problem is that although every human inherits the full range of human potential, we separate qualities into arbitrary categories of good and evil, right and wrong, better and worse. Those we prefer and develop are projected onto our gods and leaders. Those we despise and reject are projected onto enemies and devils. When we act on our biases we often do great harm to ourselves, each other, and our planet.
In today’s world, two pairs of opposites present the greatest challenge: our conscious and unconscious selves, and our masculine and feminine sides. Since the ‘masculine principle’ of Logos, (logic and reason, objective interest), has consciously ruled politics and religion in the West for about 5,000 years, the ‘feminine principle’ of Eros (caring and relationship, or what Jung called ‘the great binder and loosener’), has been relegated to our unconscious lives, and women and the qualities long associated with them have been devalued and repressed. The more obsessive we are about maintaining masculine dominance, the more money and power males and traditional societal institutions acquire and cling to, until what was originally a fresh and healthy new development turns toxic.
The King Is About to Die
As stories about the unconscious self, myths often contain a dying king. Death images also appear frequently in dreams. In essence, this motif represents the stage in the growth of an individual or society when limiting old beliefs, attitudes, and priorities must die for continued growth to occur. This is always a time of great difficulty and often of chaos.
The metaphor of the dying king is especially apt in the political arena. Consider the rebellions, revolutions and deaths that occurred before America’s founders were able to free themselves from the control of the British monarchy. Imagine how devastating it must have been to the aristocracy which had amassed great fortunes under the monarchy to lose the New World, an unbelievably valuable asset, to the new order of democracy.
Is it any wonder the British held on so tightly? Yet in the end, our founders’ need to be free from repression won out. As a result, democracy, a brand new form of government, was born. Of course, the psychological reality that the king is about to die again does not mean democracy should die, but only that it’s time to end the imbalances and injustices which have characterized it so far.
The Unconscious and Conscious Dominants Meet
Presidential races have always been hotly contested and name-calling has always been the order of the day. And even the wisest among us are buffeted by unconscious emotions and complexes which influence our choices without our knowledge. This is why both sides in this race can have such different positions, yet each sees theirs as the ‘correct’ one that will promote democracy’s values of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
So what’s different about this race? For the first time in the history of America, the unconscious dominant of the feminine principle and all it represents—symbolized by Hillary Clinton—has risen to meet the conscious dominant of the masculine principle and its patriarchal style of governing—symbolized by Donald Trump.
The pervasive argument that Clinton is no different from the corrupt males before her simply doesn’t stand up to the facts when her record is compared to Trump’s (check the facts here), or to those who preceded her as Secretary of State (check the facts here). The fact is, symbols speak louder than words. In this case, the fact that an experienced female politician has been nominated to run against a political neophyte who happens to be a powerful, white, billionaire male shows us what’s really at stake in America’s collective unconscious.
It’s very apparent to observers of cultural change that the feminine principle has been activated in collective consciousness. The question is, will we keep trying to repress it or will we open the tomb and make way for the revitalization of America?
“The animals follow the natural law only….With man things are very different. He is not at one with himself. He is subject to two laws that do not by any means always coincide. Consequently he is inwardly divided.” Esther Harding, Psychic Energy, p. 202.
By around the age of three, most children’s egos are strong and consolidated enough to think of themselves as separate individuals. This is when memory begins. We do not leave Epoch I behind at this point but we do begin to adjust our responses to our instinctual needs according to the demands of our environments.
Thus we grow into a more mature form of self-awareness I call Epoch II Ego Consciousness. During this time we gradually lose our allegiance to the natural law as we obey the human law to prove ourselves and become responsible members of our families, groups, and society.
Most of us experience spurts of increased self-awareness during the normal developmental stages; for example, adolescence when we begin to assert our independence, young adulthood with its task of finding meaningful work, marrying and parenting.
During these critical junctures we acquire new needs and desires which challenge the status quo. Conflicts between what was and what is coming into being strengthen our egos to a certain extent, and many people lead happy, productive lives without looking very deeply into their unconscious selves. Or we may not be happy at all, yet do not seek help or change in any meaningful way because lethargy, habit, pride, and fear of the unknown prevent us from stepping too far out of our familiar comfort zones.
Moreover, we may grow in some areas of our lives, yet maintain one-sided, either/or attitudes in others. We might continue to open to new insights and ways of thinking in our work and relationships, yet we might think, “I know my religion is correct. To question its beliefs is dangerous,” while ignoring secret doubts. Or we automatically agree with our political party and assume the other is wrong without weighing the issues. Or we avidly uphold unjust laws that violate human rights while fighting the enactment of new ones that would right these wrongs.
Certain qualities are common in Epoch II. Among them are
dualistic thinking and with it, a sense of being separate from others;
a primary emphasis on self-preservation and need-satisfaction, that is, self-centeredness and selfishness; ‘the will to develop our individuality;’
an outer-referential focus on society and its rules and conventions;
resistance to and bias against otherness, including other people, other ways of thinking, other belief systems, and the unknown or disowned otherness of our own psyches, i.e. our unconscious selves;
anxiety about our self-worth;
conflict between our longing to lapse back into the unconscious maternal matrix and the pressing need to prove ourselves.
Masculine Values. A primary feature of Epoch II is the ego’s preference for masculine values which gradually supplant our Epoch I condition of pure enjoyment in the Mother’s paradise of dependency and the innocent pleasures of simply being. During Epoch II the healthy ego of either gender flexes its wings, struts around the nest, and begins to assert its will power, independence, self-discipline, competition, achievement and ambition.
Repression. Developing these qualities has advanced civilization in many valuable ways. But because of our dualistic thinking it has also had some nasty repercussions. This is because of repression, a second major feature of Epoch II self-awareness. If “the way I (my ego) am” is the good, right way, then I will develop bias, prejudice, suspicion, hostility, fear, and aggression toward anything that conflicts with the ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’ of my self-image.
Shadow. The third major feature of Epoch II Ego Consciousness is the development of a shadow. This unconscious complement to the ego is composed of everything we don’t know or like about ourselves. As long as we refuse to acknowledge these disowned aspects of our psyches they influence our attitudes and behavior without our awareness. Becoming conscious of our personal and collective shadow is one of the most critical and potentially life-enhancing challenges we face today.
The majority of Epoch II egos restrain their shadows and repressive tendencies without causing undue damage or harm. But some obsess over the “masculine” qualities so highly prized during this phase that they become inordinately repressive to “feminine” otherness, both figuratively and literally. Unwilling to consider opposing points of view or budge from entrenched polarized positions these egos become so self-righteous and closed-minded that they gravitate, like the Sky God onto which they project these qualities, toward agitation, divisiveness, domination and war.
“Egos like this might be strong enough to keep growing, and often are well-intentioned. But as long as they put their consciousness in service to repression, and as long as they cling to their position as the sole “deity” within the psyche, they will not recognize their imbalances. The most powerful and repressive of these Epoch II egos are the major culprits in the dangerous dramas playing out on the world stage today. In their psychological ignorance, many of them fervently believe they are God-centered; but in truth, they are firmly entrenched in Epoch II egocentricity.” J.B. Raffa, Healing the Sacred Divide, p. 44.
In empowering our ego and masculine qualities we are obeying the evolutionary imperative to see and use all of our human potential. But if we stop there, vast amounts of our psychological inheritance, including our instincts and many aspects of our feminine sides, remain buried in a dark, pre-conscious reservoir.
This effects every aspect of our lives, especially our relationships and spirituality. In the West and Middle East our separation from the human mother is accompanied by a rejection of the archetypal Great Mother. Fortunately, this doesn’t destroy her.
Why? Because the Sacred Feminine is an archetypal reality in the psyche and the ego has no control over it. If this were not true, humanity would never have projected her onto ancient Goddesses and she would not be re-entering our awareness today.
Next time I’ll have more to say about this repressed archetype and how our acceptance of her has the potential to heal the divisive schisms threatening our world today.
Image Credits: Elephant Quote: Depth Psychology Alliance. Jung Quotes: Courtesy of Lewis Lafontaine.
“We are entangled in the roots, and we ourselves are the roots.
We make roots, we cause roots to be, we are rooted in the soil, and there is no getting away for us, because we must be there as long as we live.
That idea, that we can sublimate ourselves and become entirely spiritual and no hair left, is an inflation.
I am sorry, that is impossible; it makes no sense.” ~Carl Jung, Kundalini Seminar, Page 29
This quote reminds me of a true story. In 1848 England, art critic John Ruskin married 18 year old Effie Gray. Five years later their marriage was annulled because Ruskin had failed to consummate it. As Effie told her father:
“He alleged various reasons, hatred to children, religious motives, a desire to preserve my beauty, and, finally this last year he told me his true reason… that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person the first evening 10th April.” Wikipedia
On their wedding night John discovered that Effie had pubic hair. His malady, which by today’s standards may seem laughable, was psychological. But consider the context: John grew up in Victorian England. His father, John James Ruskin,
“helped to develop his son’s Romanticism. They shared a passion for the works of Byron, Shakespeare and especially Walter Scott…. Margaret Ruskin, an Evangelical Christian, more cautious and restrained than her husband, taught young John to read the King James Bible from beginning to end, and then to start all over again, committing large portions to memory. Its language, imagery and stories had a profound and lasting effect on his writing.” Wikipedia
A romantic, an idealist, and the only child of an evangelical Christian mother, John had so sublimated his instinctual, physical roots that it hadn’t occurred to him that his beautiful young wife’s body would be any different from the smooth, marbled statues of Greek goddesses he so admired.
By ‘sublimate’ Jung meant to unconsciously transform socially unacceptable impulses or idealizations into acceptable actions or behaviors. Freud believed this was a sign of maturity in individuals and civilization. By this means one could deflect the sexual instinct with its erotic energy into so-called “higher” and “socially useful” physical, scientific, artistic, or religious achievements.
Likewise, a person with aggressive tendencies can channel them into acceptable contact sports like football or boxing. A person with an urge to kill someone might join the military where he could justify his urge in the name of protecting his country. A literary example is provided in Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. In this story a judge with homicidal urges gives unusually harsh sentences to guilty criminals in the name of protecting the citizens and upholding the law.
“One is only confronted with the spiritual experience when one is absolutely human.” ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 394
But Jung had higher hopes for individuals and societies. He believed we could be transformed into psychologically whole and spiritually enlightened beings without denying our instinctual roots. And he knew that when the defense mechanism of sublimation remains unconscious, it is an obstacle to an individual’s fullest and healthiest development. Individuation only becomes possible when our egos consciously acknowledge our instincts and choose to channel them in harmless and healing ways. To remain unconscious of them leaves them free to attain toxic extremes.
An ego which denies its entanglement in the roots of the physical body and unconscious psyche can become dangerously inflated, capable of doing unspeakable things while believing itself to be virtuous. One can’t help but wonder what hidden evils the Spanish Inquisition‘s zealous Tomás de Torquemada was striving to deny when he had around 3,000 people tortured and executed for heresy against the Catholic Church.
If we don’t start taking the human psyche far more seriously, countries including our own will continue to enable toxic, minimally conscious egos to acquire positions of far-reaching power. We can change that by learning to recognize three signs of an ego that is growing into health and consciousness:
It explores its unconscious roots with an ongoing self-reflective practice;
It recognizes and reins in its defense mechanisms, including projection and sublimation; and
It acknowledges its shadow without allowing it to control its thoughts, words and actions.
Meanwhile, we might ask ourselves, “Does anyone in the next election show signs of an unhealthy ego?”
Image Credits: My thanks to Lewis Lafontaine for sharing the Jungian quotes and images on his Facebook Jung site.
“If only man would act rationally, perhaps wars and depressions and insanity could be avoided; but unfortunately, man does not seem to be any more capable of acting sanely now that he was a thousand years ago. We are still confronted with man’s own irrational behavior and the untamed forces within his psyche.” ~M. Esther Harding, Psychic Energy, pp.202-3
The troubled waters of society are the natural result of troubled waters within the human psyche. Until we free ourselves from our instinctive drives, each of us, from the most powerful leader to the most vulnerable victim, will add to the turbulence of our time. And the waters will not grow calm until our basic needs for survival, health and safety are met.
“Opponents, however, decried the proposal as socialism. In a Senate Finance Committee hearing, the Democratic Oklahoma Senator Thomas Gore asked Secretary of LaborFrances Perkins, “Isn’t this socialism?” She said that it was not, but he continued, “Isn’t this a teeny-weeny bit of socialism?” Since then, “Changes in Social Security have reflected a balance between promoting “equality” and efforts to provide “adequate” and affordable protection for low wage workers.” Wikipedia
Affordable. Health. Care. Eighty years later opponents of government’s involvement in the lives of its citizens still fear “socialism.” Proponents still promote “equality” and “adequate” affordable protection. Those whose lives have been made easier by the Social Security Act don’t really care what you call it. They’re too busy being grateful for Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security pensions. For the freedom to enjoy their latter years in relative comfort and health without unduly burdening their children.
And what of their children? They are the baby boomers, some of whom are now running the government. Here’s what Wikipedia says of them…of many of us:
“In Europe and North America boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up in a time of widespread government subsidies in post-war housing and education, and increasing affluence.
As a group, they were the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation up to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time. They were also the generation that received peak levels of income; therefore, they could reap the benefits of abundant levels of food, apparel, retirement programs, and sometimes even “midlife crisis” products. The increased consumerism for this generation has been regularly criticized as excessive.“
And “socialism” is still a bogeyman, even to some who have benefitted most from widespread government subsidies. And we still quibble and fear and fret over this issue; the untamed forces within our psyches still stir the waters.
I was surprised to learn from this site how many countries already have universal health care. Switzerland and Singapore have the two must successful systems and “have achieved universal health insurance while spending a fraction of what the U.S. spends.”
This Forbes article says “Many American conservatives oppose universal health insurance because they see it as fundamentally antithetical to a free society. ‘If we persevere in our quixotic quest for a fetishized medical equality we will sacrifice personal freedom as its price,’ wrote a guest editorialist in the Wall Street Journal in 2009. But according to the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, ten nations freer than the United States have achieved universal health coverage. It turns out that the right kind of health reform could cover more Americans while increasing economic freedom.”
So if “the right kind of health reform could cover more Americans while increasing economic freedom,” what’s preventing us from devising and implementing “the right kind of health reform?”
The untamed forces within our psyches.
Many people I’ve spoken to since beginning this series tell me the Affordable Care Act is the best thing that ever happened to them. But it has problems. And my friend is trapped by a particularly unjust one.
I have no answers. But one thing is sure: the troubled waters in the US will not grow calm until the basic needs of our citizens—survival, health and safety—are met. And this will not happen until the privileged few at the top of our governmental hierarchy willingly place the untamed forces within their psyches under the microscope of consciousness.
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”~Carl Jung
My thanks to all of you who enriched this dialogue with your many insightful comments. May the dialogue continue until the waters grow calm.
Image Credits: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,Wikipedia. Turbulent waters: earth data.nasa.gov
Last week I wrote about a friend who has issues with the Affordable Care Act and vented to me in a rather adversarial way. In that post I shared my self-doubt and conflicts about whether I could handle such a political hot potato in this blog with intelligence, objectivity and balance. Afterwards, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that just writing that introduction resolved most of my discomfort. The bit that lingers is just par for the course for this sensitive and scrupulous INFJ!
So now I’ll continue with his story in his own words:
“In 2014 my United Healthcare PPO health insurance policy cost me $213.09 per month with a $2500.00 deductible. My wife paid $250.00 per month with a $3500.00 deductible, also from United Healthcare. We are both in our 50’s and self-employed in the service industry. We pay 25% income tax. There were no savings or other advantages to purchasing a joint health care policy. Together, our effective monthly cost was $450.00 per month with $5000.00 in deductibles.
“In 2015 the Affordable Health Care Act went into effect. My monthly premium went up to $489.39 with a $5200.00 deductible with Humana (HMO). My wife’s plan with United went up to $475.00, also with a $5200.00 deductible. That cost us $965.00 a month with an effective $10,400.00 deductible! The policies included maternity costs; my wife had a hysterectomy in 2004. They also included children’t dental care. We have NO children. By definition, we are a “married couple with no children” and our annual adjusted gross income is above $62,000.000 — the defining line to qualify for the government health care subsidy. Affordable??
“In November of 2014 I had a bout with gastroenteritis. Severe dehydration sent me to the emergency room in a life-threatening condition. After being hooked up to IV’s in the ER for two hours, the finance rep from the hospital came in to secure payment for my $5,200.00 deductible. Awesome. My wife gave him my credit card as I was out of it. Eight hours later the doc told me I needed to be admitted to the hospital because my kidney function numbers were not good. What they never mentioned was that this hospital was no longer in my network. I left the following afternoon. The bills that arrived over the next four months totaled $6,000.00 in addition to the deductible. A friend in the medical industry went to bat for me by reviewing the hospital bills. We found charges for services and tests I never received, so the finance department offered a discount for full cash payment. I took it. My brief visit to the hospital cost me $11,000.00 out of pocket. Affordable??
“My wife and I have a simple lifestyle. We live in a condo, go out to dinner once a month. Both our businesses barely survived the economic crash in ’08. We still haven’t recovered. When she had to relocate her business, costs were high, including three separate licenses to fulfill city, county, and state requirements. At the time of my hospital stay we had not taken a vacation in three years. But we are thankful for what we have and are not complainers.
“In 2016 we received notice that our Humana HMO plans were going up. Our savings are dwindling, yet we now have to pay $1,150.00 per month with $14,400.00 in deductibles. Two years ago we paid $450 per month. Affordable???
“Options. We’ve shopped plans through three agents. We have the cheapest plan, a Bronze HMO. Alternatively, we could choose a catastrophic plan for $380.00 a month with $10,000.00 deductibles, but they cover very little and we’d have to pay a penalty for choosing a plan that is not ACA approved. We think the penalty would be 3% of our adjusted gross income, but our CPA isn’t sure because the law is so convoluted. Our only other option would be to find new entry level jobs with benefits, but our income would be considerably less. And this isn’t an easy thing to do for 55- and 59-year-olds. We’ve worked hard for 25 years to develop our clienteles and reputations.
“Now our health care costs are the biggest expense in our budget. While I understand the overall goal of Obama’s plan to provide health care for everyone, this plan is a total failure. In my mind, the insurance companies responded to the government getting into their business (less piece of the pie) by raising rates to make up for profit loss. Also, the requirements of the Affordable Health Care Act are too inclusive. Why would we pay for maternity care or children’s dental? In the past I was rewarded for being healthy. I only saw doctors three times in the past ten years, and those were at a Centacare and my dermatologist. I don’t drink, smoke, or take any medications. I am not obese. Now I’m treated the same as an overweight, smoking alcoholic on ten different meds. Really?? Furthermore, with such high deductibles we’re less likely to consult a doctor when sick.
“My feelings are that Obama wanted the Affordable Health Care Act to be part of his administrations legacy; because it was an ego thing he pushed it through at any cost to us. The philosophical benefits to society do not justify crucifying the middle class American. There has to be a better plan. It was easy for politicians who receive lifetime health care at taxpayers’ expense to pass this law without even reading it since it was so long. I’m angry. We are honest and hard-working. We make our own money and are trying to be responsible small business participants. But it really is hard to watch the President vacationing in Hawaii while asking us “to tighten our belts” for the “greater good.” I’ve watched this country go off course for too long and I think the system is irreparably flawed, with no solution in my lifetime.”
Jeanie again: I invite you to share your story and perspective. It will surely be interesting and enlightening, especially if anyone can suggest solutions. Knowing how divisive political issues can be, I ask only that you use diplomacy and restraint. (As if any of my amazing regular readers needed to be reminded to behave with civility!)
The Wilbur Award is given by the Religion Communicators Council for excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the public arena and for encouraging understanding among faith groups on a national level.