Posted by: HAT | November 3, 2010

Hope, Nevertheless

image of the new Harrison County Hospital, viewed from the east

The new Harrison County Hospital

It is beginning to seem that cherishing visions of moderate reform is “utopian” in the bad sense (“an impractical and idealistic social scheme”). All my districts elected people I don’t support who, frankly and realistically, are unenthusiastic about my very existence and are in favor of denying my civil rights.

The race I was actually most concerned about — the one for State Representative, District 70, Indiana — was also most heartbreaking. It was probably lost by the long-time holder of the office to straight party ticket voting. He won (narrowly) in our county, but lost big time in the other counties that share the district — who don’t care and may not even know that the opponent voted AGAINST bringing the local county hospital into the present. She thought it was OK to keep the old, outmoded and soon-to-be-out-of-compliance one, or else send everyone who needs a hospital the additional 25 miles to Floyd or 30 to Clark. I’d appreciate that if I were having heart attack or a stroke, no doubt, which people do from time to time, even in Southern Indiana. She didn’t think a hospital was the kind of thing a County ought to spend money on. Too much government, I guess.

But what is “government” in that case? Only the people who live in a place trying to decide what to have for themselves and their neighbors in that place. And according to me, a local hospital is one of the things it is good to have. (Am I biased because I live with one of the physicians who works at that hospital? No doubt. Does that make me mistaken? On the contrary; in this case, I suspect it means I have more information about the situation than most.)

So I am reminded of the words of William Sloane Coffin, which I first heard from my colleague Debra Mumford’s e-mail signature:

Hope is a state of mind independent of the state of the world. If your heart’s full of hope, you can be persistent when you can’t be optimistic. You can keep the faith despite the evidence, knowing that only in so doing has the evidence any chance of changing. So while I’m not optimistic, I’m always very hopeful.”

Thoroughly utopian. But in the good way, I think.

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