Crossing party lines

By Carol A. Paris, M.D.
The Tennessean, Letters, March 23, 2017

Re: "Walking a mile in Donald Trump supporters' shoes," by David Plazas, March 19.

I read David Plazas’ commentary on his experience walking last Wednesday from Capitol Hill to Municipal Auditorium to attend President Trump’s rally.

I find that his experience with President Trump’s supporters was much like mine. I arrived in the line at about 9:45 a.m. My line-mates included a mother and her grown daughter from Lebanon.

The mom explained that her husband couldn’t attend because he is ill with a chronic lung condition. I could relate; both of my parents had lung disease and I know the sadness of watching someone you love struggle to breathe.

We all were annoyed by the roadside preachers who shouted hell and damnation at us for hours. I, too, was offended by protesters who carried signs that seemed designed to inflame and promote anger rather than champion their issue.

I thought about Maya Angelou’s saying “We are more alike than we are unalike.” I thought about the late Marshall Rosenberg, whose teachings of nonviolent communication have informed my work as an advocate and an activist. He admonished us to listen not to what people are saying but rather to listen for their feelings and needs. Feelings and needs are universal.

Once inside, I tried to place myself strategically so that I could be seen and heard by the president and by the much-maligned press corps. I waited until Mr. Trump got to the topic of health care and then I seized my opportunity to stand and chant: “Put your name on a plan that works, Medicare for all.”

I chose this action to bring visibility to another option for addressing the health care crisis — one that I believe provides the optimal use of our hard-earned tax dollars to provide quality health care for everyone living in the United States.

Carol Paris, president, Physicians for a National Health Program, Nashville.