Hospice Patients Alliance: Consumer Advocacy

"The Faceless & Unreal"

By Ron Panzer
President Hospice Patients Alliance
September 1, 2004

The patient, by definition, is the "other." An "other." Do you recognize the "other?" Do you see the other? Do you hear the other? Do you know the other? Have you? ... ever? Can you imagine that there is "an other?" Can you imagine being "an other?" In your world, is there any other? Or do you see the world as only an extension of you: through your own actions, thoughts, being? As input to your world. Do you do to others or do for others? Are they players in your OWN world, but not separate, equally alive players in their own separate worlds? Do you see them? Do you recognize them?

If you are rushing through life, busily doing, getting and keeping, you don't allow the intimacy of caring. You do not recognize the other's world. You live, but are not alive. You "see", but not with open eyes. And so you see nothing that truly matters. You close yourself off from being hurt, yet suffer the worst pain of all. For while physical pain hurts, your loneliness and isolation torment.

We can stand pain, but we cannot stand the thought of not being cared for, by anyone at all. So when you care, with open heart and mind, the patient feels your healing touch.

We are taught to observe in a detached, aloof way and that is called being "professional" and "scientific." Yet, great science or achievement is not accomplished by only observing, thinking, and doing, but rather immersing oneself totally in the pursuit and then perceiving, knowing and being. Perceiving, knowing and being is something quite different from "observing, thinking and doing." Objectivity cannot be possessed by those who are cold, arrogant and self-centered. Insight arises when you are lost in the reality presenting itself at the moment, immersed in the exploration or activity pursued. Insight arises when you forget yourself and your own concerns. Great scientists often fill out the details of their flash of insight after perceiving, knowing and being.

It is not strange that there are so many "faceless" leaders, followers and workers. Whether corporate leaders, political leaders or other, they are mostly afraid to show who they truly are. They present many faces to the world, but not one is real. Pretending all the while, they do whatever is necessary to get, for themselves, wealth, prestige, fame and power. They are well-accepted in "society" and often praised for all they do. They may give millions to charity, but how did they make their millions? Did they step on others to grab it? Did they make sure others' jobs were cut so that more "profit" would be available to pay their own salary? Did they cut services to the customers, clients or patients to ensure that "take?" Did they betray the basic mission of their industry along the way?

How many of today's "leaders" first make sure that their own pockets are filled and then see that services are performed for those "served?" Senators, Congressmen, C.E.O.s of huge corporations have made their retirement funding foolproof, but have they made sure that employees' retirement funding is assured? If these leaders have not stopped to see the world around them, their hollow expressions of "concern" and their actions do nothing to truly transform the world or even one person.

Although you may be astonished to hear that money and power alone do nothing to transform the world, money given and power used can quickly be swallowed up in the sands of time. One year is enough to swallow up just about any imaginable amount of cash. There are always many waiting to fill their pockets along the way. Even many "charities" have huge administrative costs on the way to performing the "advertised" service to the needy. Is the mission to serve or to serve oneself?

Real change comes about when people are truly alive, not only to themselves, but to each one they meet. Conscious. Aware. Recognizing the "other" as a very real separate being, blessed with life and equally worthy of life and respect. Just as much a "person" as oneself!

Today, we have faceless leaders, faceless followers, all fighting to assert that their view, their proposal, their plan, their "agenda" is the best. But they're mistaken, lost. Pushing and shoving, grabbing and taking, fighting and destroying ... they never stop to see what is real about the world, themselves or the others all around.

Health care policymakers like to speak about the "morality" of their killing for convenience, their "right" to privately end the life of an other. The "privacy" right of a vulnerable disabled individual to be killed. What insanity is influencing the prevalent philosophy of our nation's policymakers? It is a debased worldview that does not even recognize the "personhood" of so, so many disabled individuals. It is a worldview that grabs to itself the elite status of "judge, jury and executioner" of the "others," but never recognizes any "other."

The death squad leaders don't march their victims off to a wall to be shot. They force them into hospices before they are dying. They starve and dehydrate them. They restrain them with medications just as powerful as handcuffs and chains. They kill them with medications just as lethal as bullets. They speak about their fight to kill the vulnerable as "spirituality" in action, as if their judgment is superior to any other. Yet, they never know what it is they kill. They never know what it is they themselves are, though they are so certain they do.

They do not allow the intimacy of caring. They are so afraid of vulnerability. They do not trust in honesty, so they lie to themselves and others in everything they do. And they never realize that they are lying to themselves about their killing. When they choose to do something so brazenly evil as to kill another out of convenience or gain, they hide behind the "concensus" of other faceless cowards, hospital "ethics" committees just as bogus as Hitler's three-judge panels that always arrived at the conclusion that the victim should be euthanized. Hiding behind the concensus of the "group," they never admit their own responsibility and guilt. They don't accept responsibility for what they do. They just do it and never look back.

Wherever you are, do you serve the other? Whatever you do, is it done for the other? Do you think of the other? You may say, "of course I do!" But do you really?

What is the other? Someone. Someone equally someone. One like you.

Aware of being, living, breathing, thinking, feeling, wanting, needing. Just as much as you.

When you are acutely aware of the aliveness of the other, you are conscious of the wonder of their life. You are conscious of the wonder of your life. You are speechless. Grateful. Humbled.

Like sunlight pouring through different windows, each of us shares equally in the gift of life, and realizing this, there is recognition, of the "other." Recognition, ... and the possibility of love. A loving presence with the other. Recognition, ... awareness of the shared experience of being. And recognizing that shared experience, you are able to truly, ... see the other, ... hear the other, ... know the other.

You have pierced the veil. You are together, yet have become one. You are forever changed and the other is forever changed. You know. You both are "real." You do not present many faces to the world. You simply are and the world recognizes you.

Those who make an impact on the needs of the moment make the supreme effort to see the other or whatever is before them. It is a rare thing to cross the divide in life, truly recognizing those you serve. You can relieve the greatest pain, solve the greatest problem, create the most beautiful creation, find the unthought of solution.

You lose yourself, immerse yourself in the moment, in all and with all who present themselves to you. You experience life. It is not a mechanical "doing." It is a way of being. Though some will not allow themselves to do so, if you care enough to do so, you will have touched a soul, changed a life, forever transformed those you have met. You have a face and you are real. You are vulnerable, but those you serve look back and feel your love. They know you "see" them. They know you "recognize" them. Through your love, both you and the "other" are renewed and healed.




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