Time for personal responsibility

Published 4:59 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

By Staff
Recently, while doing my usual Sunday afternoon litter patrol, I came across a very dirty disposable diaper (among other things). Fortunately, it had been there long enough for the sun to dry it out. But it got me to thinking.
Doctors are familiar with examining “poop” so that didn’t bother me. At least yearly your doctor should do a digital rectal exam the most important aspect of which is to check the stool for blood. Colon cancer ranks third as the most common cancer in both males and females. And, if your doctor isn’t checking you, you need to remind him or ask to be sent to someone who will.
My thoughts then turned to the question of why people toss their garbage in front of someone else’s home for them to pick up. This could be but one symptom of a larger problem. In earlier times, enterprising Americans expected very little from their neighbors and even less from their government. When settlers moved into the Alabama frontier they full expected to provide their own protection. When erecting a house or barn required neighborhood help, it was understood that the favor would be returned in kind. To obtain clean water, you dug a well, and you might even have to make the wooden bucket to dip the water yourself. People fed themselves from what they grew or raised on the land they cleared by hand.
Now, we expect someone else to do all of these things for us and sometimes whether we can pay for them or not.
If this attitude applied only to “litterers” it would be bad enough, but it is also this same attitude, which a very high percentage of our citizens take regarding their personal health. When we eat ourselves into obesity, we expect a pill to help us lose it. When that pill only works briefly, and we have eaten ourselves into diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure (and who knows what else), we turn to gastric bypass. Smokers expect medications to control their symptoms of asthma and emphysema and then home oxygen when medications fall shot. Though there are other things which can block the arteries which nourish the heart, tobacco is probably the most common. But not to worry, we have stents and coronary artery bypass surgery to correct the problem.
And the list goes on. Smoking, eating too much, drinking too much, baking in the sun too much, lounging in front of the television too much: these are just some of the ways we find to harm ourselves and then expect someone else to clean up the mess.
Currently, health care is consuming 21 cents out of every dollar the government receives in taxes. Of course, this doesn’t account for what we pay out of pocket, what goes uncompensated, or is paid by private health insurance. Not only is the cost of healthcare threatening to bankrupt individuals, but also our government, as well. Currently, we are trying to dump our care onto our children and grandchildren with deficit spending.
Health car reform is mandatory, whether it is “Obama care” or something else. However, the key element to health care re-form is personal responsibility.
Only we can stop dumping the fruits of our misbehavior on someone else will we be able to have “affordable health care.” I hate the term, but what we need is a “paradigm shift” before it’s too late. So, stop throwing your dirty diapers and your bad habits in my front yard.
Join us at the YMCA on Saturday morning, May 1 to help pick up roadside trash. Yes you will be picking up somebody else’s garbage. But, you will also be helping to keep our community clean and getting some exercise, too.
Dan Raulerson is a Brewton physician.

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