#HAWMC: Will We Be More Enlightened 100 Years from Now?
This is the first post in the month-long series called the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC) created by WEGO Health. Today’s writing prompt: Health Time Capsule. Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you & your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112. What’s in it? What would people think of it when they found it?
It is extremely challenging as I consider what I would want people one hundred years from now in 2112 to know about me—my health focus. I advocate for everyone to register to be an organ and tissue donor and create advance directives. I was prompted to take up this cause with the murder of my young brother by someone with undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia. These are medical issue but they are also very contentious public policy issues. I firmly believe if there was not such a strong stigma against mental illness a would-be murderer would have been well on his way to treatment. Even more, I am convinced if we lived in a country where guns were not so readily available and easily purchased, my brother would be alive and thriving today. So it is with these ideas in mind that I would go about assembling my time capsule.
In my time capsule
I would include both electronic media and paper media but let’s begin with the obvious. So much of my life and what I do from day to day is encoded onto electronic devices.
Between my smart phone and iPad, all of the electronic data could be stored. I’ll point out some of them:
- Photographs of my brother and all of the people murdered by guns (yes, that will require a lot of memory space) in the United States since 1997
- Videos news coverage of these gun victims and personal videos of family occasions while my brother was still living
- A screen scrape of the current UNOS count of people waiting for a donated organ
- Electronic copies of all of the gun laws throughout the 50 states, federal and state codes regarding organ donation, the National Center of Health Statistics annual publication, Health United States and advance directives
- Hundreds of songs that I simply love including a few meaningful songs in particular, “Sign of the Times” by Prince and “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas.
I would also place a copy of the x-ray showing the 22 caliber bullet lodged in my brother’s brain, the prescription bottles filled with all of the antipsychotic and mood stabilizing drugs not taken by the murder, CD albums containing the songs I previously mentioned, a copy of my driver’s license with my organ donor status indicated by a bright red heart, and several family portraits (on film) taken while my brother was still living.
Finally, I would place paper versions of:
- All of the books containing the laws and code I spoke about previously
- Health United States with bookmarks on the section with the statistics for Violence and the section on Death and Dying
- Completed advance directives for myself and both of my parents and III Gifts poems and photographs written by my late brother and edited by myself.
All of these items would be collected into the guitar case that holds my brother’s bass. (I’d probably take some measures to protect it all from the elements.) Then, I would hide the time capsule inside the Richmond (VA) Circuit Courthouse because, in my opinion, it is the place where my brother and family was denied justice.
What do I want to convey to the people of 2112?
Violence is a serious public health problem in the 21st century exacerbated by the accessibility of guns. Americans must re-evaluate the idea that the rights and freedoms of the individual outweigh the needs of the community and all the policies that painfully support that point of view. The laws that do exist must be applied with parity. Bias exists. Regardless of the race of the perpetrator, a more lenient sentence is applied if the victim of a crime is a person of color (read black male) as if the death warrants less outrage. Violence destroys all families it touches! In contrast, the community must stop punishing individuals for their illnesses, randomly determining one disease to be acceptable and another illness unacceptable. This philosophy does a disservice to the members of the community and puts the community as a whole in danger. That being said, the mere presence of a diagnosis of mental illness does not guarantee a perpetrators inability to distinguish right from wrong (refer back to the bias I previously mentioned). Finally, I want the people of 2112 to understand just how much Americans in the 21st century still cannot accept death as a natural part of life, so much so that most refused to plan the details of a transition the each and every one of us will definitely undergo. Hopefully, citizens of the 21st century will laugh and pity our current shortcomings in gun control, stigma against mental illness, and resistance to organ donation and advance planning. Hopefully they will simply be more enlightened 100 years from now.
Read what’s in the time capsule of other health activists at the WEGO Health Facebook Page.