Sweet, Sick Home Alabama

Alabama[1]Alabama, Alabama! How beautiful and baneful; how promising and poor; how stout and strong, yet sick and wrong!

Thirty-ninth in education? Yes, tragically so … and I weep. Or, perhaps, the seventh least educated state in our country.

Forty-third in health and medical care? Yes, tragically so … and I weep.

Forty-seventh in poverty? Yes, tragically so … and I weep. Sweet home Alabama ranks only 42nd in per capita income… Is this, too, the case? Yes.

Is it any wonder?

Rounding out the best states for the wealthy is Alabama, one of several Southern states that are overwhelmingly friendly to high earners. The wealthiest 1 percent pay just 3.8 percent of their income in taxes, while the poorest taxpayers shell out 10.2 percent. The middle class isn’t far behind, with 9.4 percent paid in taxes on average.

Third in divorce rates? Yes, tragically so … and I weep. Ah! But the second most religious state in the nation, as well! And this … this nauseates me!

Forty-sixth in eco-friendliness? Yes, tragically so … I weep.

And to make up for its budget shortfall? Alabama legislators have decided to slash $156 million from Medicaid, (which does not include federal matching funds.)

Both legislators and officials say the cut could mean the end of the Medicaid program in Alabama. It would not only hurt some 1 million Alabamians who qualify for the program, but force the closings of rural hospitals and devastate nursing homes and pediatric practices.

Yes, tragically so … I weep.

When, oh when will we learn? There are other states faring well enough — much healthier, vibrant, stronger, more robust — why does the grand maiden of the South continue to close her eyes and ears … to shut off all sense and sensibility to what is good, progressive, workable, beneficial in the long-run? Why do so many have to hurt, have to endure pain and suffering throughout this state, when solutions have been on the table for years upon years? Ah, but there are those with fat wallets not especially keen on financial diets!

So short-sighted, so tragically short-sighted … and stubborn and arrogant, too. Other states might do well to learn an invaluable lesson from what will surely, finally be the “Decline and Fall of Alabama.”

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Speaking on Behalf of Volunteering

I recently had the privilege of speaking with the local news on behalf of volunteering.

Volunteers Give Back Through 2-1-1

Of course, volunteering is an opportunity to show my own gratitude and appreciation in a concrete way.  And, as I also mentioned, it is a proactive, tangible way to help alleviate pain and suffering in our world, which is fundamentally important.

JDN4If I’d had the opportunity ~ and, obviously, time with the news camera is limited ~ I might have added that reaching out in the spirit of genuine love and compassion is one important way we express our solidarity with one another.

After all, the human creature is a communal creature; we are quite literally made for one another. As the old saying goes, “No man is an island unto himself,” so that separation and isolation are really rather unnatural.

Consequently, when we help or benefit another, we indirectly held and benefit ourselves. And because this is true, strange as it may sound, being other-centered is ultimately the greatest act of self-service possible, whereas self-centeredness is in the end quite destructive.