Picture this scene. Your eight-year-old daughter comes running in with blood pouring down her hand. Sobbing, she explains that her teenage sister left the food processor cutting blade in a sudsy sink full of water. When younger sibling reached in to get a spoon, she badly cut herself.

In addition to bandaging up the wound, are thoughts of punishment for the older child running through your head? After all, the rule about not leaving sharp objects concealed so that they can hurt someone has been discussed many times.

I actually do not remember if I called out my oldest child’s name in anger (though I’m sure she does) before realizing that the “blood” was actually ketchup and the entire story was a fabrication concocted in the mind of a mischievous, sometimes verging on fiendish, little girl.

Knowing the entire story, in context, makes a world of difference.

The above story is one of many I could tell about that impish little girl with a glint in her eye. She is now a lovely young woman, married, the mother of two little boys and a practicing nurse. Fortunately, her sense of humor has matured while remaining vibrant. My thoughts immediately jumped to her when I saw headline snippets of a hard-hearted and clueless Washington state senator declaring that nurses spend their time playing cards.

The facts were almost as incorrect as in my opening story. Senator Maureen Walsh did say that nurses, “…probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.” But she was making a point, poorly worded as it was, that was not meant to denigrate nurses or nursing, but rather to point out the difference in the needs of hospitals in urban, rural and remote areas. In a debate on regulations, she was highlighting that rules which make sense under certain conditions can be crippling under others.

My point isn’t whether her argument is accurate or a good one. That should emerge from debate and factual information. However, instead of discovering what she actually said and discussing it, what happened was a public keel-hauling, taking her remarks out of context and stirring the social media pot of venom. Could her words have been more carefully chosen? Of course. Yet, there is not one of us who hasn’t clumsily said something we could have better articulated.

My daughter, who worked in the ICU for two years has, along with her colleagues, missed meals while on 12-hour shifts. They have found it impossible to catch a rest or go to the bathroom. We increasingly treat both our doctors and nurses poorly, if not cruelly, in ways that demoralize them and decrease the care they can provide for patients. Some of that is the result of regulations that sounded good on paper but worked out completely differently in reality. Debate on many issues is desperately needed. A society that plays “gotcha” instead of encouraging open conversation and dialogue, as it did with Senator Walsh, is establishing a more dangerous scenario than the one concocted in my eight-year-old’s imagination.

13 thoughts on “Gotcha!”

  1. We are so easily manipulated by [……], maybe “by jumping on people for unfortunate use of language you shut down discussion” is the goal. It seems to be working but for the few sources, like yours, crying for reason. As we say to all our warriors, “Thank you for your service”.

  2. I work in an emergency room in an underserved area. Our facility is either wall to wall packed with trauma patients, or dead empty. We could be construed by the media as heroes or unnecessary expenses depending on when the cameras decide to drop by.

    1. Chris, you have your own challenges as does the ER in a major city. I think a discussion of what serves each area best is better than deciding that
      ‘one size fits all.’ My point is that by jumping on people for unfortunate use of language you shut down discussion.

  3. The level of knee-jerk jumpiness is directly correlated to the level of stupidity shared. Senator Walsh’s comment was at such a high level of ignorance and “out-of-touch-ness” that it warranted a high degree of emotional response. Yes, we need to tone down our reactiveness, but leaders especially have a huge responsibility to not open mouth and insert foot, lest they lose all credibility in one instance. I doubt any nurse has card playing time anywhere.

    1. Kevin, I believe that she represents a very rural area. Her worry would be that regulations make it so expensive that the clinic or hospital closes. As an example, after Obamacare, all the obstetricians near my daughter stopped accepting her insurance and the nearest one she could get to was a few hours drive. Result? She gave birth at home. Thank God it went fine, but that wasn’t the promise of increased coverage under Obamacare. A hospital or clinic in a remote place could very well have hours with no one needing care. The important thing is that someone is available when a problem arises in the community. I don’t know if this represents this senator’s area, but rather than forcing her to apologize and beg for penance, it would have been more productive to respond with facts that may or may not have supported her intent if not her words.

  4. We need to prioritize critical-thinking skills in schools – especially given these kinds of knee-jerk responses to quotes taken out of context.

    1. Tom, learning how to vet social media and 24/7 instant news is a whole ‘nother ball game from what used to be required. It is even more critical than it used to be to learn how to be discerning.

    2. We need to teach people to do independent research as well. Even today’s “journalists” use Google as their go-to, rather than actually making a phone call and speaking to the person they are quoting or writing about. Books and journal articles are no longer resources – blog posts and Twitter feeds are! The blind are leading the ignorant.

  5. off the subject, but apparently today in the news ilhan omar is demonstrating her/the belief that Jesus is not Jewish….when these people make that claim i know what their intent really is = to strip away the Jewishness of Israel.

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