Treat the disease, Not the symptoms By Mark Lampkin

My early adult years were spent working in a health care environment. First as an X-Ray images hanger in the Radiology department of a Sacramento area hospital, and then from 1980 until 2000, in managerial roles in home health and hospice care agencies. Mind you, I had no formal training in these areas, but I quickly ascertained that I would do well to learn the language and vocabulary used by those with whom I interacted on a daily basis.

Those persons ranged from physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, medical social workers, and others who used verbiage that was foreign to my understanding. I had better get acclimated to this or be left in the dark and remain ignorant when they were conversing in my presence. For those of you who know me, remaining ignorant was NOT an option.

During that 20-year journey, it became profoundly apparent that the healthcare system in the United States was not set up to cure the diseases that plagued many of her citizens but was built to address only the symptoms that made people not well. Cancer has yet to be eradicated. All the $$$ that the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethons raised never eliminated that dreadful disease. Diabetes, high blood pressure, sickle cell…all still with us.

Now in the year 2021, 12 months removed from the earth-shaking year of 2020 that sat us all at home, we must now, once and for all, address our nation’s worst disease; systemic racism.

A good physician will ask you a number of questions when you show up at either the emergency department or their office because something is not right within your body. How long have you been feeling like this? Was there something you did to trigger this occurrence? And then, too often than not, they write a prescription for a legal drug to make you FEEL better. It won’t cure you, but it will treat the symptoms. In other words, you will now become a part of their “chronic illness club.” A customer for life.

America has done the same for over 200 years with respect to the truth about how the nation was founded and what measures were used to create massive wealth AND inequality. The nationwide protests after the murder of Brother George Floyd, while we were stuck at home due to COVID-19, forced us to FINALLY address how non-whites in this nation have been brutalized and oppressed; for decades. And how wrong and it is and has always been.

Today we see massive voter restricting measures passed in many states. We see how reluctant elected officials are to penalizing the Trump administration and its numerous illegal activities. We see the unwillingness to punish those who stormed the nations’ Capitol building on January 6th. Yes, America wants to treat the symptoms but not the disease of bigotry and racism.

I was encouraged when a good friend recently told me of a conversation between, she and a young physician whom she was meeting for the first time to discuss a physical ailment that had shown up in her body. The doctor asked a number of questions, some of which were about her lifestyle, diet, water intake, etc. I was so pleased to hear that. Is it possible that a new generation of doctors will see the “whole person” and work collaboratively to “heal” their dis-ease? And not just run to the prescription pad?

Maybe we in this nation can also find it in our collective psyche to have those difficult conversations about the ills that we all KNOW exist. Giving tax breaks to the wealthy only makes them wealthier, not improve our communities. Denying affordable daycare for working families is part of the curative process to help rebuild a middle-class in our nation. Ensuring that ALL citizens have the ability to cast their vote is supposed to be protected by the Constitution. Guaranteeing a living wage is humane and business smart.

The steady diet of lies, blaming and shaming, and denial of the truth will only keep us looking at each other with disdain, doubt and distrust. What you and I know to be true, stories told by our ancestors about their experiences in this nation needs to be heard, and our history must NOT be slighted. And yes, there will be many who will feel threatened by the TRUTH.

The Great Physician from Galilee asked one question of the man who’d spent 38 years at the watering area that supposedly had healing power; “do you want to be made whole?” The crippled man had come to this same place year after year, seeing others healed, but he NEVER really wanted to let go of that “lie” that he told himself; that he was crippled and the healing was outside of his control.

When he answered affirmatively, Jesus told him to take up his mat and walk! And he never returned to that place again…he had accepted the truth and was healed.

What say you, United States of America? Symptom management or true healing? The choice is OURS to make.