For a number of years, nurses have marched on DC to call for changes in nursing and healthcare that the conditions under which nurses care for patients. This year the specific issue is safe nurse:patient ratios, calling for passage of bills that are already in both the House and the Senate that set national standards for nurse:patient ratios. This event promises to be an invigorating event with inspiring speakers and the opportunity to be part of a strong, non-partisan event focusing on issues of great concern for all nurses. The march also coincides with the following week designated as “nurses week” – a U.S. tradition highlighting tokenism at its best (full disclosure – my personal opinion!). The march has the potential to energize nurses across the country to bring the activism home, and during nurses week take local action calling for safe ratios at home – in place of roses!
All the talk about repealing the U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA) is scary stuff for those of us who are concerned about those who would be harmed immeasurably if this were to happen. Of course this is a U.S.-specific problem, but all countries face ongoing threats that weaken healthcare systems worldwide (for example, the U.K. “Brexit” initiative is a significant threat for their National Health Service). Here in the U.S. we are at least a bit encouraged by the signs that repealing our fledgling ACA may not be easy – that the voices of the people letting MoCs s (members of Congress) know that this is not a good idea – may be getting through. However, as Rachel Maddow has been advising us for weeks now – watch what they DO, not what the say. In fact one of the most damaging things we can do is to repeat over and over what they say, which only reinforces their message.
So fortunately, we have folks stepping up to help us watch what they do, and giving us leads about what we can do about it. When, just a few days ago, Tom Price, avid opponent of the ACA, became Secretary of Health and Human Services, put up a proposal to make it harder and more expensive to get coverage under the ACA, and also supporting DJT’s executive order that gives insurers freedom to deny and limit benefits for those who already have it – most of the public had no way to know that this was happening. The brand new DCReport.org, established by David Cay Johnston, is filling this void. Read the report on the new ACA proposal here – Administration Moves To Block Access To Health Insurance. Here is the action box that accompanies this report:
Citizens have until March 7 to weigh in on the new rule. Use the rule-making code CMS-9929-P in any correspondence.
Write: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services / Department of Health & Human Services / Attention: CMS-9929-P / P.O. Box 8016 / Baltimore, MD 21244-8016. The phone number is 410-786-7195.
You can also comment online. This link will take you to the text of the proposed rule. There is a comment button on the right.
Of course this is not a dramatic, showy kind of action, and it certainly will not remove the threat that our country is facing. But if nobody speaks up now, then this administration will be further emboldened to continue down a damaging path. We can at least put them on alert by sending strong and clear messages that they do not have a mandate to continue.
We will continue to alert all NurseManifesters of actions we can take related to health and healthcare – but to stay alert for any issues that concerns you, follow DCReport.org, and other trusted news sources that help guide your own actions.
There is an organic, world-wide movement afoot to participate in a massive show of resistance to the new U.S. President – write a simple postcard with your message of resistance and mail it on March 15th. This is an opportunity for those of us who are nurses to join in sending messages affirming our support for world-wide health and opposing all that threatens health of the earth, and all that inhabit the earth. Check out the source I refer to below (The Daily Kos) below for details! Here is the basic information about what to do to participate:
This week, members of the Nurse Manifest Team gathered together by the warmth of our computer screens for engaging video conference. We took the time to welcome some new members and talk about the future of the movement. I have to say for me, being with like minded #NurseResisters was so energizing (even though I have been suffering through a bout of the flu this week!) and also very comforting.
It’s important for #NurseResisters to remember we are not alone and to gather those around us during these challenging times: when change seems to be happening at a rapid pace, when social media pages are filled with what resisters might find to be concerning or bad governmental news, when there are 10 things you would like to take action on, but you can’t be on the phone all day….it can become easy to become discouraged, overwhelmed, or burned out. This is where truly being with a like minded community can lift your spirits and buoy your endurance.
And endurance is what we will need. I know right now it sometimes feel like a sprint…get out there and get things done now, get to this march, make your signs, write your emails and postcards, get on the phone….because the administration has been creating changes at a rapid pace, the media and social media have been bumping up our energy, and we feel drawn to create change now.
The thing is, this is not a sprint and it’s not a solo race…it’s more like a team based marathon or ultra-marathon, and it is going to take teams of like minded community members to both participate in and complete the race.
We need to carry lights, march together through the dark night with our nightingale lamps, and strive toward unity. There is no clear finish line, and no medals for winners, second, and third place. There is a beautiful planet and population of people that need caring for and this endurance test is in part about not giving up that vision of a caring, compassionate, kind, peaceful, unified, and spirit filled world.
I suggest other #NurseResisters start gathering with your communities in real life or as we did last week, in real time via video or phone conferencing. Set aside thoughtful, meaningful time to be together, to discuss future actions, and also to just support one another, to laugh together, to share your stories. Communities can rejuvenate and recharge us, and they are a must for folks who plan to run the long race.
I also did want to share that part of our discussion last week focused on the use of humor, satire, parody, art, and music to support and gather people together. Saturday Night live is becoming a great example of the power of humor, parody, and satire to help us lighten our load, to help us rejuvenate, to connect us across time and space.
While there are many older political songs we can use (Carol King just re-released One Small Voice with free download!: https://soundcloud.com/user-844282824/one-small-voice), it remains imperative that we also create new art and new music that reflects our current siutation here, now in 2017. Until then, let’s be strong together:
“One small voice speaking out in honesty
Silenced, but not for long
One small voice speaking with the values
we were taught as children
Tell the truth
You can change the world
But you’d better be strong”
(Carole King/ copyright Rockingdale Records).
It has been one week since we posted the Nurses Declaration of Solidarity and Resistance, and today we registered 833 signatories, and still counting! But what matters is that nurses are not only signing this Declaration, but we are acting in our communities all over the world to put the values of this Declaration into action. We have heard from many nurses directly who have said “I have never taken this kind of action before, but now I am doing it.”
Of course not all nurses share the commitment that we have put forward, and we respect any challenge or difference of opinion. The fact remains that there are hundreds of nurses who, like growing numbers of our colleagues and neighbors, continue to be alarmed by the actions of the new administration. The book “Don’t Think of an Elephant” by George Lakoff has helped me to understand the perspectives that different people have concerning what is happening in our nation and the world. Recently a friend heard Professor Lakoff speak of central guidelines for resistance – ways to avoid inadvertently helping the new administration, ways to resist, and ways to promote the values that stand on the side of health and justice. These guidelines can be applied not only to public action, but to our own language and thinking about the situation we are in:
1. Don’t use the name of the new President, and do not repeat his tweets.
2. Remember this is a regime and he’s not acting alone;
3. Do not argue with those who support him–it doesn’t work;
4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;
5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow.
6. No more helpless/hopeless talk
7. Support artists and the arts
8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it.
9. Take care of yourselves; and
If you have not found your way yet to a place and time to take specific political action.in your community, go to the Indivisible Guide website – and start by searching for groups in or near your zip code. Read the guide, talk with your friends, explore existing groups or form one of your own.
When you get involved in a group, let everyone know that you are a nurse, and that you are speaking up based on the values that nurses hold dear! Together we can make a difference! And let us know here! Add your comment to our blog any time to share what you are doing, because your action inspires all of us to act in our own ways and times!