Heaven is exclusive…yikes

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here.
This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…
Come further up, come further in!”

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle


(Augusta National Club)

So the other day, a friend and I were chatting when the conversation rolled around to the
story about how her daughter had flown home this past weekend in order to attend a wedding
and the festive reception aftermath.

The shindig was held at one of Atlanta’s myriad of private “country” clubs.
City clubs, country clubs, tennis clubs, swim clubs, golf clubs, polo clubs…
clubs, clubs, clubs…
Atlanta has always had its fair share of clubs.

However, this particular club is one of Atlanta’s oldest and finest.

Back in college, I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s debut at this said club…
Do they still have such things as debuts??…
Those rights of passage for the more upper-crust amongst us?

Anywho, back to clubs.

This was my first and seemingly last visit to this particular club.
I checked it off my list of things to do before I died..wink, wink.

This club is one of Atlanta’s most prestigious, oldest and most exclusive.
It was founded in 1887 as a private club for Atlanta’s post-war elite males.

It was called a ‘driving’ club because of the carriages that were driven to the club.

This club did eventually allow women and the naturally flowing of families…
but there are still very few, if any, Jewish members and only but a handful of African American members.

In fact Jimmy Carter’s Attorney General, Atlanta’s own Griffin Bell,
a long-standing member of this club,
had to relinquish his membership, back in the day, when he was appointed US AG—
He had to part ways with the club due to its limitations of membership.

The waiting list is currently decades-long, shrouded in mystery and the fees to join is
that of a nice sized fortune.
Plus you need to “know” someone in order to get a foot in the door.
So certainly it is more trouble than most folks want to mess with…hence why
there are other clubs for all sorts of folks.

It’s an old vestige to a different time.

Now I really have no issues with “exclusive” clubs nor do I really care about their
existence or not…
They’ve been around as long as I can remember and I’ve known many
friends who have been members as well as those who would never want to be members…

Much like ancient secretive societes.

And yes, I will confess that my parents did join what was a new country club back
in the early 1960’s…
They joined just so they could take us swimming and have a place to go eat from time to time.
But knowing my dad like I did, it was a far cry from a whos who sort of club as he
would never pay dues for such…he just wanted to get us out of the house and dump us
off to swim throughout the summer.

Now whereas I don’t care who belongs to clubs or not…
there are those who do care…and some who care very much.

For the longest time, Augusta, Georgia’s home of the Master’s Golf tournament,
Agusta’s National Country Club, did not allow women or minorities as members.
I think Condoleezza Rice was the first of both…
a great choice as I really like Ms. Rice, but I digress…

However it was under the pressure of the press, along with various special interest groups,
that the club has since allowed women and minorities to become members…
However, due to the fees and dues, along with the necessity of knowing someone,
plus an often forever waiting list, these are hindrances that put the idea of membership
out of the grasp of most average folks.

And again, like I say, I really don’t give a hoot one way or another
but the irony of this notion of exclusivity is not lost on my thoughts.

Maybe if I played golf or tennis or wanted to socialize on a level beyond socializing
at the grocery store or at the post office, I might be interested…
but since I don’t…I’m good.

However, not all folks feel like I do.
Lot’s of folks do not like the notion of ‘exclusive’

Our overtly equity driven and level playing field culture does care and they care
very very much…

They care so much so that they petition, boycott and rage a twitter war while
wrecking all sorts of havoc…
They busy themselves shaming those exclusive places and those who want exclusiveness
into opening their doors to one and all…in turn, ending any and all exclusiveness…
because everyone will now equal…so yay for our equal culture…

Hummmm.

But really…who cares?

Why do I want to pay and play a part when I’m not keen on paying or playing
in the first place?
I don’t.
So let’s let sleeping dogs lie…or is that lay?
Right?

Lets leave those who wish to be exclusive, to their exclusiveness.

All of this is fine and good…but…when we seem to find the shoe on the other foot…
when what we do, what we say and how we react becomes a key to all this exclusiveness
while we allow such to become paramount…we find ourselves in a full-blown tizzy.

We want desperately to knock the high horses low while elevating the lowly to the higher position…
It’s an age-old human conundrum…envy, coveting and lusting…
as we yearn to assuage our egos by placing everyone even an even keel.

So guess what…here’s a brain explosion…

Something you may have never considered.

Heaven is actually exclusive.

Whoa.

Yeah, I know how you hate hearing such…
In fact, you don’t like hearing such, nor do you even agree…

But it’s true whether you like it or not…

Heaven is truly exclusive.

It’s exclusive to and for all those who hold the fact that Jesus Christ
is Lord and Savior.

Matters not whether you consider yourself a ‘good’ person or that you live
a ‘good’ life…
the one key factor to “getting” in is that you have made Jesus Christ your
lord and savior.

The entrance fee has been paid in full.
The monthly dues have been paid in full.
The membership is open to anyone no matter skin color, financial holdings, social
level or educational accomplishments…in fact, you don’t need any accomplishments…

Plus there’s only one person you need to know in order to help you get in…

It’s that simple.

And yet despite the clamors and protests by the counter culture and our uber progressive
society, Heaven will always remain exclusive…

The one key for membership…Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

Rights and Responsibility–somewhere in there, should be compassion

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.
Bob Dylan

Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.
Helen Keller

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

― Albert Einstein

DSCN8284
(emerging fall color / Julie Cook / 2014)

The news as of late, has been rife with the stories of the growing cases of Ebola emerging outside of the so called West African “hot zones”—With most cases occurring in individuals who have traveled to and from theses specific hot zone— such as doctors, healthcare providers, aid workers, with a few emerging cases from average citizens who simply wanted to “get away.”

After reading the headlines and watching the latest breaking news concerning this growing global worry, I have become a bit troubled by one story in particular, which has been capturing a great deal of attention. It is the story of nurse Kaci Hickox from Maine, who after returning from Seirra Leone, has refused to be quarantined against, what she claims, to be her will. She was initially detained in Newark, NJ as soon as she disembarked from the plane. Eventually leaving the hospital in New Jersey, heading home to Maine, where the state of Maine has asked that she at least “self quarantine” at home, avoiding contact with anyone and to not leave her home for the requested (note requested) 21 days.

A defiant Hickox has refused, claiming that she is healthy, perfectly fine, and refuses to be a “prisoner” or allow her “rights” to be jeopardized. She claims that not being able to have contact with loved ones, after returning from a stressful situation, is simply too much to ask.

Really?

I certainly do not adhere to the “Henny Penny the sky is falling” school of panic, but I do believe in common sense and responsibility. With any new, scary, unknown factor there is indeed going to be a certain level of concern and even panic on the part of the general population. The thought of a modern day “plague” is very frightening. The unknown itself is simply very frightening to people.
Somehow I don’t think the taking of a defiant stance helps to calm heightened concern.

Modern day science and medicine is indeed a marvel. We have made so many wonderful advancements in the treatments of deadly diseases and viruses, even taking on the so called super bugs as we wage a war of eradication.

Unlike the days of the Middle Ages when those, having contracted leprosy, were required to wear bells around their necks so as to warn those passing near to be cautious and move away as a leper was in the vicinity, we have learned that we cannot contract certain viruses and diseases by mere touch or being in the presence of the “sick.” Yet many individuals are still concerned, cautious and afraid.

It was reported that the local hospital in Ms Hickox’s town has had up to 10 individuals cancel elective surgeries out of concern that Ms Hickox could become symptomatic requiring her to have to go the hospital for treatment. It was reported that she was craving a pizza from the local pizzeria. The restaurant was inundated with calls concerned about her showing up as other patrons did not want to be there when and if she arrived.

Some may consider such behavior in her community as bordering on hysteria, some may see it as merely precautionary. I do believe however that Ms Hickox, especially as a healthcare provider, does indeed have a responsibility to her community—in which she should want to work to ensure calm, reassurance and the bridging of gaps and not create or add to the hype, the rising sense of panic or fear that a belligerent, spiteful and defiant attitude breeds.

I’m not saying that we should give in to hysteria and panic but I am saying that we should be brave enough and smart enough to execute judicious precautionary action. 21 days is said to be the time for the incubation of the virus, should someone having been exposed, contract Ebola. I don’t think 21 days of quarantine is much to ask of anyone coming back from the so called hot zones. We’ve already seen how several healthcare providers, who felt perfectly fine upon leaving the country or having worked with sick patients, eventually came down with the virus.

I find Ms Hickox’s lackadaisical and caviler attitude bordering not on the knowledgeable and scientific and constitutional as she claims, but rather of the selfish. She is hellbent, having already “lawyered up” as it were, on maintaining her “rights” to come and go as she pleases—despite the fact that she has caused contention, consternation and division within her small rural hometown of Maine.

Is it fair to the town, the state, the Nation, or to the Global family at large, to throw caution to the wind and go merrily about one’s individual world while those around are questioning, fretting, arguing, debating, panicking—which gives way to the fact that our lives are not so single and individual as we think but are actually linked inextricably to and with that of our fellow human-beings.

Maybe this all boils down to an inconsistent policy dealing with this new “threat” to humanity as it seems we, our Governments and Medical Communities, are learning on the proverbial fly. Each day and each new case brings with it, its own unique set of circumstances. We’ve seen the quarantining of the pets of victims. Spain opted not to quarantine a beloved dog of a nurse who had come home bearing the virus, but opted rather to put the dog down. Global leaders are grabbling with how best to quell the growing worry of an ever growing weary world. Not everyone is making the most wise of decisions as we continue living in the midst of the learning curve.

Ms Hickox’s responsibility to her fellow human beings, in my opinion, outweighs her so called constitutional rights. To claim one’s individual rights when it is affecting the wellbeing of countless other lives, businesses, decisions. . .particularly when one is supposedly about the business of selflessly caring for others, rings of selfish, self centered egotism.

I’m all for defending our rights and freedoms, but I think we must ask ourselves is it fair to put countless others at risk without a bit of cautious reflection? In this case a time of evaluation and observation of 21 days is the “cost” of being cautious. The responsibility taken to travel to a highly volatile region brings with it obvious risks—those risks don’t simply disappear when one hops in a plane and flies away, leaving it all hopefully behind. There are consequences for all actions, good and bad—if we are willing to jump into a risk filled situation then we must be prepared for the followthrough—in Ms Hickox’s case, that followthrough is a 21 day time period of quarantine. It’s that cut and dry.

Groups such as the ACLU and various civil liberty groups seem to throw common sense out the window just to argue a point. Sometimes I feel as if we’ve allowed “the law” to overshadow reason, compassion and the doing of the right things for and by people. Oh I know what many will say to such, that the law is the law is the law and it is our duty to defend it. . .especially when a body of one, a minority, is concerned. I fear we’ve seen far too often how we now bend over ourselves for the few, often forgetting the whole. . .
As a nurse, Ms Hickox should know that sometimes there are some hard consequences as part of a profession and if a 21 day quarantine is requested, not necessarily required, but merely requested, should not precaution trump the selfish clamoring of violated rights? Could not her self imposed quarantine perhaps not be the best teaching example to help educate and quell fears?

Ms Hickox was selfless in her desire to work with the organization Doctors without Borders–demonstrating a concern and compassion for those afflicted, sick and dying–yet in her having come home, that same sense of concern and compassion no longer seems applicable to her very neighbors as she choses to cause division in her very own community. I’m thankful that she is “free of Ebola” and has returned home, as she continues to claim, very much well and healthy, but the issue here is one of caution, of which she has been asked to observe and of which she is vehemently refusing.

May we be willing to take and bear the responsibilities for our actions. May we work to put the wellbeing of others above our own wants and desires for in so doing we create a more compassionate and kinder global community. May we learn to yield our self governing egos to that of compassion, giving, caring, not demonstrated to but a few, but to all we encounter. . .if I should see that my hellbent desires are causing so much ire, so much pain, so much contention and consternation around me, may I learn to back off, taking on the spirit of gentleness with my responsibilities verses the combativeness of self.