Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Violence

My wife practices at a large area hospital. The concept of giving aid to the poor is a distinct part of the Judeo-Christian culture, and accordingly, a percentage of her department's patients are the so-called "charity cases." As much as we may complain, this aspect of Western culture is one thing that has made us so great.

I daresay that I myself am a beneficiary of this, because my great-grandmother, widowed with three young daughters, was the recipient of aid from various sources when she came to America. But her descendants have by and large succeeded, and collectively, even adjusting to constant dollars, have voluntarily donated to charity ("tzedaka" in Hebrew) many multiples of the amounts our matriarch received (even when you don't count the multi-millionaire cousin of mine who is active on the board of a large charity). Just today, for example, I myself wrote and mailed out checks to two institutions that care for orphans. I expect to cut a few more checks in the next few weeks, what with the Rosh HaShanah holiday coming up.

But like everything else, charity often gets abused. Within the past week, an administrator in my wife's department was venting to my wife about a patient (not my wife's) who is a "charity case," understands close to zero English, does not work, and is probably an illegal alien, but who took up so much of the administrator's time in getting the woman's medical treatment attended to. What is this woman contributing to our society? My grandparents at least mastered the English language, and didn't need translators to transact normal routine business like healthcare, grocery shopping or banking.

My wife, along with all her other activities, is now taking some post-professional education courses. The particular course she now is taking is about the role of culture in health care. In connection with this, she came out with a somewhat profound observation this evening (or, rather, she had the gumption to post it online for her classmates and instructor to see). It goes something like this:

Being that language is a part of the respective cultures, are we not, in America today, witnessing some cultural violence on account of the great obsession to translate everything into Spanish?

The menu, then, is " Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Violence."

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