Friday, December 11, 2009

Health Care – Something's Missing, Part 2

Last time I wrote about the need to develop guts, heart, or whatever we chose to call it. It is the inner strength that we can use to overcome obstacles, sometimes when it appears that all hope is lost. I make no pretense of being able to give you that strength; you have to develop it yourself. However it is useful to study those who had such guts and how they used that tenacity. Gonzales' book, Deep Survival gives us many examples and describes the actions of those people.

(I should mention one difference in recommendations between Gonzales and myself. He seems to advocate that those lost or injured in the backcountry try to get out on their own. That is appropriate for those cases where rescue is unlikely. However in most of the contiguous 48 states I believe it is usually better for a lost or seriously injured person to wait for rescue if someone knows approximately where you are. However in my book, Bringing Yourself Back Alive I also advocate positive action on the part of the lost or injured person. He should take action to protect himself, and to help searchers. However if he is not seriously injured or lost he should try to get himself out.)

The survivors Gonzales describes do not waste much time feeling sorry for themselves. Feeling abused is a natural human reaction but is not helpful in such situations. Survivors work through that stage quickly, then get on to something productive. Neither do they panic, instead they think carefully about what they should do. Then they set about doing it, no matter how long it takes or how difficult it is.

Joe Simpson broke his leg descending Siula Grande in Peru. With great difficulty he and his partner started working their way back to camp, with Simpson hopping on one leg or being lowered with a rope by his partner. Things were starting to look manageable – until Simpson fell over a cliff, landing on a snow bridge in a crevasse. His partner could not see him and was forced to cut the rope. Simpson knew his partner would think he was dead and would have to go on alone. He was on his own, in a crevasse with a broken leg. It was impossible to climb out of the crevasse from that snow bridge. Yet he got himself out of that crevasse, broken leg and all and finally managed to get back to camp in time to meet the donkeys that carried their gear (and Simpson) out of the mountains. Had he not gotten himself to camp he would have died where was and his body probably would never have been found.*

Simpson's struggle is instructive. He could have quit after determining that he could not climb up from the snow bridge. However he refused to either give up or panic. Instead he used his brain, noticing a snow pyramid in another part of the crevasse. He lowered himself to the bottom, drug his body to that pyramid, and climbed it to escape. His ordeal was not over, he was still a long way from camp but he didn't give up. He passed his gut check and lived.

Simpson's actions are a good example of reasoned planning, intelligent seeking for a solution, and dogged determination when all seemed lost. That is the kind of backbone we need in our citizens.

Joe Simpson did not develop his tenacity by having someone else meet his needs. Like all survivors he had overcome difficulties before. What will happen when U.S. citizens start looking to government for our needs? We will become a nation of sheeple. We will lose the independence and tenacity that have stood us so well in the past. We will fail the “gut check.” We will not have that extra something inside that is so necessary in any stressful situation, not only in survival cases. Employees and managers will give up easily, harming our economy. Parents will give up easily, harming the coming generation. Spouses will give up easily, leading to broken homes, female poverty and problem children. Whistle blowers will give in to fear and allow corruption to continue.

If we turn our health care over to the “Big Brother” of government it will be one more step towards removing our self-reliance and becoming sheeple instead of the fully developed human beings we should be. We will continue to have human bodies, but we will have sheep-like characters.

*Simpson describes this in his book, Touching the Void. It is also briefly described in Gonzales' book.

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