Who Counts and For What
This I believe: Everyone counts or no one counts. These are not my words, instead they are adopted from the statement of a fictional detective in a series of novels. Everyone counts or no one counts is so different than thinking people deserve what they get. Some things are things no one deserves, some things everyone deserves. In my career as a pediatric social worker, I struggled with children dying. Did any parent deserve for their child to have cancer? Did the child deserve it? Were dying children some how more valuable than living children? I stood at the funeral of a six year old child, who had died of cancer, a horrible death. Did his parents deserve to lose a second child, only a year after his twin brother died of the same disease? Did he deserve to suffer and die? It made no sense to me that this life should end in so much pain. Did not this child deserve the same robust health that is shared by my own sons?
I listen to people speak of immigrants as legal and illegal. Are illegal immigrants any less people than legal ones? Are their children any less in need of food or education? I am glad I worked for an agency where” don’t ask, don’t tell” was the policy working with immigrants. I would not have wanted to decide I must refuse services to someone in need, who did not count because of their immigrant status.
If I decide any category of persons is less deserving, less human, who am I to make such an arbitrary decision who counts and who does not count? How do I know I will never be in that category of “not counting?” Where do I draw the lines of deserving and undeserving? This seems the stuff hate and wars are made of. Are innocent victims any less dead than non innocent victims?
The only answer for me is, “everyone counts or no one counts.” When I find others counting less, deserving less, I diminish all of society and myself. What a better world it could be if everyone counted.
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