"Well Sir," the doctor replied, "Let's run some tests and see where we stand."
The doctor gave Mr. Jones a stress test, did his blood work, and an overall physical.
"Mr. Jones, it seems you have high blood pressure, are a border-line diabetic, and are about 100 pounds overweight. In short, your poor diet and lack of exercise have made you a prime candidate for any one of a number of cardiac problems and diabetes is definitely around the corner. I have developed a workout regimen that I want you to follow as well as a list of dietary changes." The doctor handed his list to Mr. Jones.
"What is this $#@*!" Mr. Jones said angrily.
"Excuse me?" the doctor said, a little taken aback.
"Perhaps all those fancy medical degrees messed up your hearing doc! I said I need YOU to make me feel better! I ain't doing any of this @#$%!"
"Mr. Jones, how do you expect you to get better without any effort on your part??" the doctor replied dryly.
"Well, what the hell do you have all that education for if you can't make me better?! What the @#$%^ are all those pills in the cabinet for??"
"Mr. Jones, there is no pill for what ails you. Your condition is the result of a systematic series of choices. It is going to take a lot of hard work to reverse the situation you are now in. Now, I can educate you on the steps you will need to take to improve your health, but you are going have to follow my instructions."
"@#$% you!" Mr. Jones said while crumpling up the list. “What is the point of your being a doctor if you can’t take care of this for me?! I guess I am gonna have to go find a real doctor who can actually heal people!”
“Mr. Jones,” the doctor implored, “You may well be able to find a doctor who will give you some pills to mask your symptoms; but the underlying issues are not going to go away. In order for you to be truly healthy, it is going to take work and discipline on your part. We can’t get around that fact!”
“Whatever doc! It makes me sick that they give lazy people like you this position in the first place!”
This little story was inspired by an interview I heard on NPR this weekend. I wish I could find it online to pull some quotes. Basically they were speaking to someone at a conservative think tank about the state of American education. The gentleman had one answer - great teachers. Nutrition? Home-life? Class-size? Pre-requisite skills? Child and/or parent commitment? None of those things mattered at all - a great teacher can negate all other variables and produce the same results in each student. Of course, when we put this argument in another circumstance, we see how absurd it becomes.
For some reason though, the politicians and academics of either side of party lines want to make it all about the teacher. Even president Obama has abandoned the idea of responsibility being anywhere else. In ONE campaign speech, he talked about the role of parents and community... but he dropped that approach and we haven't heard a word since.
I am presently reading M. Scott Peck's book "The People of the Lie". In it, he shares numerous examples from his career as a psychiatrist. Over and over we see that success or failure with a patient is most often determined by a patient's ability to accept reality. He said of one patient:
She wanted healing, but she was not willing to lose anything, give up anything, in the process. It was as if she demanded of me, 'Heal me, but don't change me!'
America knows where it wants to go, but it wants to get there by way of a pill... not hard work; not reality.