I’m off work for the next week. Granted, I’m fighting the ‘battle of the green pool,’ wondering what is it that lurks beneath the surface and occasionally stirs the water. And admittedly, I have a ‘honey-do’ list that will probably keep me from hanging out at the street corner with the other delinquents. But it’s OK. Frankly, after working some busy ER shifts of late, I’m just delighted to be away from the place.

However, it isn’t really the sick that have been the problem. What strikes me most these days is America’s passion for incapacity. Now, if you’re 86 and suddenly weak, or if you’re 95 and falling down, I’m all about compassion.

But what I’m seeing, more and more, are relatively young people who are weak, dizzy, incapable, unable, anxious and legally disabled. And what I sense is a love affair with incapacity.

If you don’t work in a hospital emergency room, you may think I’m being cruel; but if you do, or if you’re an employer, social worker or work for your state’s disability board, I’ll bet you know what I’m talking about. People simply can’t function.

I saw a young man recently who was disabled. Why? ‘I don’t read or write good I don’t get along with other people.’ That describes a fairly large proportion of surgeons I’ve met. Relax! Just kidding!

But back to the point. That’s why someone gave him disability? Mind you, he wasn’t whispering it from the confines of a wheel chair. He wasn’t watching the world from an aging Iron Lung. He was telling me this after explaining his most recent recreational injuries. Now, I like this guy. I’ve seen him before. But I would NEVER have put him on disability.

Another told me he was disabled due to ADHD. Young and healthy, he apparently just lacked the focus to work. I feel that every day at 7 am. Caffeine, like Ritalin, does amazing things for one’s focus. So does the need for money and the healthy, much-maligned sense of avarice that has driven western civilization so far, so well, and so much for the benefit of all of mankind.

Seems to me like a healthy, fit young man with ADHD would make a jam-up ditch digger if handed a shovel and pointed in the right direction. But that might be too demeaning, I suppose. A life of government checks and X-Box; that’s just the ticket! I mean, killing swarms of The Flood on Halo 3, that’s a good application for one’s neurological disorder!

This just scratches the surface. Shift after shift, young men and women, even middle-aged folks, tell me that they are on disability, trying to get disability, hoping for disability or simply dreaming of meeting someone on disability.

They are overwhelmed, tired, tingling, passing out, almost passing out, feeling as if they’d just love to pass out, darn it, if only they could muster up the energy!

Our society has created a culture of weakness. Thanks to entitlement after entitlement, men and women have just given up on effort. And why not? We don’t expect them to graduate from high school. They’ve watched generations of their families live well on checks from the state and federal government, all the while doing strenuous side-jobs to supplement them in their…you know…disability. After a while, it becomes embedded in their psyches.

But we physicians are partly to blame as well. Certain among us take every bit of depressed, woe-stricken humanity and rather than tell them the truth (scientific or economic) give them manufactured, unverified, nebulous neurological or musculoskeletal diagnoses and then offer them pills.

When pills aren’t sufficient, they give them more pills. And when those pills are lost, stolen, sold or taken to excess (or as so often happens, eaten by visiting family members, unwanted neighbors or the tragically addicted Labrador retriever) those same physicians, in conjunction with courts, figure all they can do is get them on disability.

Incapacity, weakness, inability to do the most menial activity of self-interest, these traits make for great citizens of a massive socialist state interested in the votes of the dependent. They even make excellent food for conquering alien races; though granted, over time they get a little fatty. But they make for terrible citizens and pain-in-the-backside patients.

When will it stop? When they money runs out and/or society collapses into something truly Darwinian (and therefore actually uncomfortable and unsafe for liberal Darwinists). Or, more hopeful, when we decide to stop enabling (out of some misplaced sense of compassion) and begin to tell the truth to the ones whose weakness, whose disability, is a sham.

Only in so doing can we save the country and do justice to the ones who truly need and deserve our attention and assistance.

‘He who does not work does not eat.’

The Apostle Paul knew it even then.


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