Sunday, October 20, 2013

Emergency Room Time

It's a disgrace to see the human race in a rat race. -Bob Marley
Today my father cut his hand using a skill saw, and called me to come over and pick him up, and take him to the emergency room to get stitches.  He also said that normally he would just drive there himself, but he felt uneasy and wasn't sure if it was safe.  I got the sense that he felt like I had more important things to do than help him get to a doctor.  As soon as I realized what was happening I told him I was on the way, and I leaped off the couch and took off immediately.  When we arrived at the hospital there was hardly a soul in the waiting room.  The staff said it was a slow day.  There was the usual over amplified PA calling individuals names, and the TV screens with sport shows playing.  What I thought was unusual was while I waited for my father to get stitched up, people who wandered into the ER sometimes had friends and family, and some did not.

All of the Hispanic people came with an entourage.   Mom, Dad, children, and sometimes others.  They comforted each other, and were very vocal with each other.  The Asian and African American people came alone, or with one other person, and sat quietly usually away from others in the ER waiting room.  A white homeless looking person walked out of the exam area, and was escorted outside by a nurse.  The nurse asked if she knew where she was, but it seemed obvious to me at least that she was mentally ill and confused.  White people usually arrived by them selves, or with one other person.  The white married couples barely spoke to each other, and when they did it was usually about some trivial meaningless topic such as what chores they had to do later that day.
The differences and similarities I witnessed revealed a cross section of attitudes of the society I live in, and how they contrast with nearby cultures in the world.  The predominately religious and communal cultures of central America have migrated north into North America as a result of economic upheavals and the theft of farm lands via NAFTA and similar trade agreements.  The drug cartels that have taken advantage of the economic situation that resulted have also compelled many to flee the area.  One bright side of this exodus is disconnected fractured cultures in North America will notice more how much they have lost in our obsession with selfishness and greed.
Living in Mexico, or other central American countries, prior to economic conquest by large corporations was  more agrarian, and self sufficient than it is now.  The larger your family the more you had to help with planting food, hauling clean water, and to take care of you when you became sick, or too old to work. 

North American societies have lost most of the middle class wealth that existed in the 1950s, and are now focused on just getting by week to week, or dominating those who are most desperate such as immigrant Hispanics.  Compassion for one another is considered costly to North Americans when devoting themselves to opportunistic lifestyles.  Non-hispanics have a lot to learn from hispanic people, if we are to redevelop our empathy, and improve our society in North America and beyond.