FTDO: A Message of Peace

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The Heap presents a special edition of “From The Desk Of” since I really don’t have the chance to write from work anymore. It has gotten extremely busy these days, especially now that it is the end of the year! So I’ll tell the tale from the comfort of home!

I have stories upon stories to tell thanks to the vast array of interesting people my job allows me to help through the county’s patient assistance program. But this ONE story really touched me. I mean, it absolutely makes you appreciate the circumstances I was born into, how fate had it that I was born as an American during a relatively peaceful time, and how one of my patients was born into extreme poverty in what can be considered a third world country. He grew up during a time of political unrest and ultimately bloody revolution. He lives to tell of the atrocities he has experienced.

A lot of my older patients have a hard time understanding the general process of the program we run, and what exactly is needed. Now factor in that he can only speak and understand Spanish, and confusion reaches a whole new level. Both he and his wife are recent immigrants to the US mainland, so despite their age, they are not eligible for the mainstream government programs. Fortunately, they became citizens and are eligible for these other programs directly from the manufacturers of their medication.

Now let’s pause here and think about this. How bad must things be for someone to leave their country at an old age for a land where you don’t know the language and you have absolutely nothing. You are leaving poverty for poverty essentially, and I dare say that living in an impoverished state here in the US might even be worse than that of Cuba. Obviously, it’s not a question of quality of life. While poverty is not the ideal situation to find yourself in, the US has a rich history of community service and outreach programs. Americans are typically very generous.

The problem is that poverty and dependence on the government has such a negative stigma here (and in particular these days as fiscal policy is scrutinized seemingly every hour!). The situation MUST be dire to leave a place where EVERYONE is poor to a place where not only will you be poor, but you might even be looked down upon due to stereotypic generalization. (This is a rant for another day)

My patient takes a medication called Abilify. It helps with depression, but often causes “spaceyness” and forgetfulness. We’ve faced the same problem with the Abilify program for months. They require a state Medicaid denial letter in order to receive beyond the initial shipment of the medication. So of course, we have the task of calling to remind patients that this must be done in 90 days. Needless to say, there are a good number of patients who just don’t cooperate or don’t understand.

Our patient was one that didn’t understand. So he and his wife came to the office to see what could be done. His wife’s medications were simple enough, and we haven’t really had any problems with any of her applications. But for the patient, there were still some medications pending. To make a long story short, I offered to do the Medicaid application for him online.

So we went back to my office, and we just began to talk. My patient preaches a message of world peace. It’s on the top of his prayer list, as he told me. He grew up before and during the Cuba Revolution. He was deemed as a “government asset” and was assigned clerical tasks instead of being forced to be a laborer. Unfortunately, he lost favor with one of his commanding officers and he was forced to join the military, and was given the task of digging graves as well as digging up graves in search of precious metals. It was a period of extreme fear. He would come to work one day only to learn of the government executing a coworker.

He made it through, and somehow was allowed to immigrate into the US with his wife. He was able to bring his daughter and granddaughter over, and they are all able to get by together. They were lucky, and they know it.

This all happened maybe a month or so ago. What compelled me to write about this was that he called me today to with me a Merry Christmas! And again to stress the importance of peace among countries of the world. I was very touched by this.

How can we get to a state of peace here in this world where differences are grounds for war? Is it an attainable goal? It it plausible to even depend on God / religion as a cornerstone for developing peace among peoples? Especially with the issue of “God(s)” being the very issue that many go to war for?

Can society ever become “colorblind”? This is where John Lennon’s “Imagine” makes perfect sense. All possible categories of difference would theoretically have to be eliminated. Anyone have thoughts on this issue? Does religion have to be part of a solution, or would it further hinder the process? Why does the human race place figurative values on a human life according to category?

This Christmas, spread a message of Peace, Joy, and Love.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

Who’s My Favorite Player?

Mr. Derrick Brooks.

Unfortunately, he was cut yesterday afternoon by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with the likes of four other notable veterans, including Cato June, Ike Hilliard, Joey Galloway, and Warrick Dunn. This day will mark the end of an era for the Buccaneers, as the final pieces of the “old school” Bucs (Brooks and Dunn) make their exits from the organization. (We all know that Ronde’s skill has been non-existant for a few seasons now, so his exit was in the past)

What is the team left with? Many see shambles and a humbling very sub .500 season in the immediate future. While others feel that this was a necessary, inevitable decision, and perhaps evidence of gut-wrenching dedication to establishing a new foundation to the team.

I’m with the latter group. I love these veteran players. While injuries surely resulted in the gradual phasing out of Galloway from the offense this past season, he presented a deep threat that had never been a daunting part of the Buccaneer offense in recent memory. (See: Jacquez Green and Reidel Anthony = fail.) We can only hope that we continue to continued production from Antonio Bryant to fill this void.

Losing Hilliard is monumental as well. I don’t know if we have a replacement in the fold as of yet. He was, for the years he was here, our best 3rd down receiver. As one post said on the Tampa Tribune website, he was the only one with the “stones” to go over the middle AND actually catch the ball. Yet he too faced a similar phasing out as Galloway.

And let’s not forget how June had to learn the SLB position. While he didn’t emerge as the anticipated defensive force we had hoped, he was still a solid at the position. He’ll be a big signing this off season for another team looking to fill a WLB vacancy.

And then, Brooks and Dunn. Future Hall of Famers. Class acts all around. Now out of a job.

They will be remembered for their abilities on the field. But for many families and children in the bay area, these two men directly affected their lives by education. Dunn is known for his Homes for the Holidays campaign, giving a family in need a much deserved home. Brooks’ Bunch, Derrick’s foundation, goes on special trips each summer, one of which included a trip to Africa. Not to mention that these individuals are men of outstanding character and a genuinely positive influence in the sports world.

Everyone will be missed, and while I do not agree with the way DB55 was treated, this is the direction the Bucs need to take. Teams are consistently getting faster and offenses more creative and able to counter the signature Tampa 2. While defense has been what the team has always hung its hat on, it’s become nothing but a fragile reputation. Heck, I feel that at times we’ve overachieved in recent seasons on defense, given the age and (in)experience. Losing a leader like this is never easy. It will be time for players like Barrett Ruud and other incumbents to take over and grow together, much like how (oh so long ago) the young, newly drafted Brooks, Sapp and the rest of our young defense developed into one of the greatest of all time.

It can happen again. The only difference this time is that we’ve been spoiled by the taste of success, and now it is expected. I guess 20 or so losing season can make anyone desperate to never want to be that bad again. Let’s wait for how Dominik, Morris, and the Glazers approach the offseason and the draft before we write off the season, staff, and administration. We can denounce the treatment of one of our most iconic players. It was a classless, irreverant move, and Derrick Brooks (and even Warrick Dunn) deserves much better.

So to Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn: Thanks for making the lives of others that much brighter, whether it was through on-field excellence or a passionate dedication to the community. You both will be missed.

And of course we can’t have a Derrick Brooks post without showing of the greatest United Way commercial of all time.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser