Angels walk among us
In a world filled with things which make you weep, it’s bracing to be reminded that goodness and light not only exist, but vanquish the dark
Last night I screened the award-winning documentary Code Black at the library. It details the workings of the emergency department at LA County / USC Hospital. It was the first and is still the busiest modern emergency department in the country, if not the world.
The work the doctors perform there is nothing short of miraculous. Understaffed, under-resourced, buckling under onerous and nonsensical regulations, they manage to bring care to their patients.
And their patients are those who have been cast off by the profit-driven healthcare system. County is the hospital not of last resort, but instead of first resort for the working poor and the indigent. The people who are rejected as not being profitable find their way there, because death is not an option.
It’s so easy to find yourself in need of County’s services. There’s a scene in the film centering around a well-dressed white woman wearing an ankle cast. She had always had insurance. Her business went under, and she went from having everything to living out of her car. It takes one tragedy, one bad loan, one stroke of bad luck to find yourself from living a comfortable life to needing the services of a free hospital. That is the American reality. That is the reality that we public servants deal with every day.
These doctors and nurses are the angels who stitch together the broken and the forgotten. They’re not interested in money. They’re in service to serve, to, as Jewish mystics would say, regather the pieces of the Shekinah, of God’s Presence in the world.
Those who go into public service do so because they want to fix what’s broken. They want to help those who need help and can’t get it anywhere else. They do it because they have the need to mend a broken world. Watching the staff in Code Black work to improve the care they can offer within the rules with which they have to work strikes a chord in anyone who works with the public. These are the best of the best, men and women who could do anything they wanted anywhere they wanted to, and they choose to serve the least among us.
When Donald Trump’s latest malfeasance puts a weight on your soul, just remember this: there is good in this world. It outweighs the evil. The light will always outlast and dispatch the dark.
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