Posted tagged ‘blogging’

Politics as a Spectator Sport?

October 3, 2009

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By Cathleen Hulbert

There seem to be quite a few Americans who view politics as a spectator sport.  

If you are sitting in the bleachers and your team wins, do you feel like a winner? You can drive home smiling and honking your horn. But if your team loses, then, oh wow. Are you a loser? I personally don’t think so, but then again I’m not really into spectator sports. And when I do watch them, the team I’m cheering for certainly doesn’t define me.

A part of me wishes that I could get more into sports. I once said that my favorite spectator sport is watching my very passionate mother enjoy a football game. It’s a wonderful thing to behold, really, the way she puts herself into it and has so much fun. But when it comes to politics, the “them vs. us” dynamics of a football game doesn’t serve the greater “we” that is our country. That’s particularly true with a subject such as healthcare reform, in which cooperation and a lack of game-playing can save lives. With so much suffering going on, there’s no time for a game mentality.

Given the current climate in which quite a number of Republicans seem hungry for a “fumble” by our newly elected president, I have a hunch that many Americans do view politics as a spectator sport. Afterall, where was this righteous gnashing of teeth when the mess that is our economy was being created in the first place? This rage thing just doesn’t add up unless there’s a serious case of sore loser syndrome going on.

Okay, so maybe the team you voted for, the one that makes you feel okay about yourself, didn’t win this one. The  “sports” commentary is so telling. “Cheater! No fair! I’ll get you next time! We’ll crush you next time! You lied! You didn’t play fair! You’re not in this game long, Pal!”

In other words, if you’re against the current President of the United States, and his team is in control, you might be pulling your hair out, getting red in the face and feeling like the world is going to end. Your only relief will be a mistake by the other side, or at least something you can spin as a mistake. 

In the case of America losing its recent bid to host the Olympics, the odd celebrating by many Republicans could seem completely anti-American until you look at it through the eyes of a footaball fan. The “other side” fumbled, according to them. That’s what it would be like if your self-esteem is based on the win/loss scenario that ends every football game.

Let’s say that half-way into his term, President Obama and his team manage to turn the tide on our greed-sick economy. The crisis that took years to create starts to ease because of his leadership. And let’s say that his leadership leads to some kind of healthcare reform that helps those struggling Americans who are now going bankrupt to pay medical bills. Maybe it won’t be a perfect system, but we’ll look back and wonder how we could have ever let things get so bad before.  

That’s a win for all of us, right? I mean, you would think the answer would be “yes!”

I have a hunch that it won’t be for the side that is now displaying sore loser syndrome. I think it will actually hurt, at least on the level of ego. And that’s what this is all about. Ego. Because it will mean that their own team didn’t score a big whopping political touchdown.

Good grief.

I didn’t care for George W. Bush one bit and suffered for eight years while he was president. I was scared to death about the trends that were leading to the present economic crisis and I was mad at him for letting them happen on his watch. But I also respected the American system and the ultimate wisdom of the voters to correct mistakes. If you are waiting for the pendulum to swing the other way again, then at least be grown up about it. After all, you had your turn. And it was a long one. 

And to those who can’t blog and yell and complain enough about our current president I would ask, “Where were you?

Where were you during the years that this mess was being created? I hear your voice now, screaming that President Obama isn’t working fast enough to fix the problem. But were you using your voice when President Bush was in office? Were you blogging then about how things as we know it were coming to an end? Because they were.

Or maybe you just flipped the station with your remote because you thought your team already had won the game.   

Cathleen Hulbert, LCSW, is a clinical social worker in the healthcare field and a free-lance journalist with a background in newspaper reporting. She also is the author of “The First Lamp — A Story of Cosmic Illumination,” a time-travel tale about love, forgiveness and redemption. She lives in Roswell, GA. For more information about the author and the book, go to www.cathleenhulbert.com.

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Bedside Blogging and Beyond

September 25, 2009

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By Cathleen Hulbert

When I started blogging a few months ago it was because I had something to say about healthcare reform. I needed to blow off steam and I needed to tell it like it is from the front lines in the world of American healthcare.

I found that I loved the way it felt to blog, like I was stretching after a long nap. Newspaper reporting had been my first career. When I wrote for the Atlanta Journal Constitution years and years ago, I mostly reported what other people had to say. Opinion pieces were for grown-ups. I didn’t yet feel like one. 

Back in 1989, when I was wrapping up my newspaper career, I left my home in Roswell, GA and moved to New York City. I felt a strange calling to change vocations. I needed something that would pay even less than newspaper reporting and offer me more stress. I say this tongue-in-cheek. It was a true calling to realize that I wanted to become a social worker and that somehow I wanted to do boot camp in the poorest neighborhoods of Brooklyn. I enrolled at Columbia University’s top rated social work graduate program. I stopped all writing for a time, with the exception of that academic style of writing required to get a degree.

While working in healthcare as a clinical social worker, I started to see and feel things that I thought had to be stuffed, but which really needed to be written about. Working in an AIDS unit at the height of the crisis in the United States, when the diagnosis was an automatic death sentence, was shocking, numbing and yet somehow illuminating. I started to see the demise of human bodies from a front-row-seat perspective, and yet I also saw the power of the human spirit. The latter seemed to grow in strength as the body grew weaker. That was big-time, front-page news for my fellow seekers. But still, I  wasn’t writing.

Then I moved home to Georgia and started working with kids at a pediatric hospital: kids in car accidents, kids who nearly drowned in the backyard pool, kids with cancer and sickle cell disease, kids with brain and spinal cord injuries. Again I saw the magnificence of the soul and how it seemed to expand in a room as the little bodies sat dying, sick or broken in hospital beds.

But still, I wasn’t writing about it.

Then came the book — the book, the novel, the time-travel tale that would somehow come knocking on my head and say, “It’s time to put it all together. It’s time to talk about what you have seen and what you have learned. And guess what, girlfriend? You are going to put it all down in the form of a novel!” I didn’t even know that I had one in me, but apparently I did. It’s a good thing I opened that door when the knocking started.

The novel is called “The First Lamp — A Story of Cosmic Illumination.” I published independently earlier this year, a labor of love which I discussed in one of my first blogs. It’s been an amazing journey. The sequel is in progress.

Still, there are days when I have an opinion and I want to write about it right here, right now. That’s why I love blogging. And I love reading what fellow writers have to say. I can safely say that it has changed my life in ways I could not anticipate.

Today is an excellent day for this writer. 

I have my first article, a reprint of my blog, in an award-winning, online newspaper called Like the Dew. It’s a collection of news articles, reviews, commentary and more by free-lance journalists and fellow bloggers. And hot dog: My blog about publishing independently is situated just underneath a beautifully illustrated piece about sex and nudity. You can’t beat that kind of exposure!

Below is a link to this next wonderful chapter in my life as a born-again (in the literary sense) writer. Did I mention that it’s an excellent day?

http://likethedew.com/2009/09/25/the-courage-to-publish-independently/

cover photo

This is the photo that I fell in love with while looking fo a front cover design for my novel. It was graciously donated by photographer William Tan. Below is the finished product.

book cover

Cathleen Hulbert, LCSW, is a clinical social worker in the healthcare field and a free-lance journalist with a background in newspaper reporting. She also is the author of “The First Lamp — A Story of Cosmic Illumination,” a time-travel tale about love, forgiveness and redemption. She lives in Roswell, GA. For more information about the author and the book, go to www.cathleenhulbert.com.

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