I remember sometime back addressing a fairly large group of patients battling multiple sclerosis.
Now many were hurting. A lot were bitter. And more than quite a few were mad.
I want to disclose first that I "have" MS...Not I’m not here to win your sympathy on that...but to put this in context and to put what I told the folks next in context and what I always try to remind myself to this day.
"Quit being a victim," I said.
"You are sick. Some of you are very sick."
It's not fair. It's not right. I’m telling you it just...is.
But I went on to add this...
"It is not your boss's fault you have MS, or your spouse's fault that you have MS, or your kids' fault that you have MS."
"You...we...just got dealt a bad deck of genetic cards. End of story. Move on. Carry on."
I remember some clapping, just some. But afterwards, I remember more than a few complaining that I didn't know their pain or the callousness of others in the face of their pain.
I disagree. I did. But I said then, as I do now, and this is the cruel part…get over it.
You have lives to live. They have lives to live. Live them.
My only point in recounting that story, again, is not to make you feel sorry for me...although I hope you'll keep that in mind if I have a lousy show...
My point is to address this bigger trend in our society to play victim...to play the "woe is me card."
I think the president's the latest to do that. But he’s far from the "only" one to try that.
Constantly referring to the awful mess he inherited.
And all the other messes since...
Problems that were worse than he thought,
A Japanese earthquake that was worse than anyone thought...
Tea Partiers who resisted him...
A damning Congress that challenged him...
Hurricanes from out of nowhere...
Suddenly riots abroad breaking out everywhere.
He is not the first president to play victim.
Richard Nixon practically perfected it.
And both presidents made...and make...some very valid points and arguments.
But I think you have a choice in life.
You can play a victim, or you can be a leader.
It is fair to say this president had a lot thrown at him...
It is also fair to say a majority of voters looked to him to fix it. And he hasn't.
Life "is" unfair.
And some challenges are over the top.
But I think that just means we buckle down.
So, we can live in the misery of what ails us...
Or show the world that there is more to us.
That are hardships haven’t made us bitter, but better.
There are always reasons to stew, but there comes a time to stop.
Now some say diseases are not like politics.
I beg to differ...
Constantly pointing your fingers at others is the increasingly fatal to all of politics.
Republicans pointing to Democrats for budget cuts that aren't real, then submitting cuts of their own that aren't much better.
Wall Streeters bemoaning big government, then bitching if "they" don't get help themselves "from" government.
Mortgage victims who to this day said they were forced to sign documents they didn't read to get a house they knew they couldn't afford.
Because here's what makes an illness a death sentence, my friends.
When you take out all your friends.
Because then, you haven't lost your ravaged body.
You've lost your soul.
It's time to quit pointing fingers and say, woe is me...
And start pointing the way, and saying...follow me.