This week my brain is full of questions. They began after seeing the play, “Looking for the Pony” at the Laurence Olivier Theater. It is a terrific play, directed by Annette Hallett with a cast of versatile actors. Not the usual comedy. I now keep wondering how much pain I would take to stay alive battling an illness when the medical people in charge of my life make mistakes. Or do stepbrothers and sisters ever become ‘family’? The play is showing this weekend and next and is well worth the experience. If you call reservations at 8858-1446, you can see for yourself how two young women answer these questions. I recommend it.
Years ago, a dear friend who was about 35 at the time asked me to be with her when she went to have her tubes tied. She was a professional woman, not yet married, but expecting to be. She did not want to have a baby in the next few years. She told me the doctor said to her in warning beforehand: “You know, this decision is going to affect the rest of your life.” And she replied, “Yes, and if I have a baby, it will also affect the rest of my life.”
I hear from politicians in the U.S. that women are not as interested in “women’s issues” as they are in economic matters like jobs, just as men are. The access to contraceptives or an abortion or the ability to get exams included in insurance are considered separate. Are they really saying that whether or not a woman has a baby is just a woman’s physical problem and not an economic one that might affect her job and income? How do they justify giving men Viagra covered by insurance? Is the ability to have an erection of more economic importance to a man then the fear of getting pregnant is of economic importance to a woman?
And finally, where is the vision in politics? In the U.S., a young man expecting to graduate from college shortly asked both candidates whether he would have a job after graduation. I believe he said that former governor Romney offered him a job when he became president and President Obama said he would encourage manufacturing.
Remember when President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Neither candidate suggested that there are still the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps to consider if you are just out of college or just out of high school. Both stand you in good stead on your resume. I heard Mr. Romney say that the Mormon custom of sending young missionaries abroad was much like the Peace Corps. Really? I know the Peace Corps puts its best foot forward in terms of showing the softer side of the U.S. and, in reality, the Peace Corps volunteers probably benefit even more from their experience and learning about the world. Often they acquire another language.
But I do question if proselytizing for a particular religion is really similar to the Peace Corps or even can be considered charitable work, which one can deduct from one’s income tax. It seems as if government and religion come too close in that case.
Service in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps not only looks good on a young person’s resume, the latter, at least will help pay for a college education if the youngster lasts the whole program. Neither candidate mentioned these possibilities. The young man who questioned them later wondered why. I, too, wonder why. Have money and success become so important that the idea of service is no longer even considered?
Graduating from high school or even college does not necessarily mean a young person is qualified for a well-paying job or a career. Especially the young people today. We have extended childhood and dependence into the late teens, maybe more, and there are seldom jobs for young people to get experience in the routine of working. No opportunity to pick grapes or other fruit in the summer, or work as a babysitter or at a responsible part-time job while in high school. These were all the things that I did when I was young, but it was expected of young people to contribute their share to the family. Not so much today.