What shall we do without us?

A few weeks ago I broke my knee. It was a big dramatic affair with a 911 call, firefighters and an ambulance ride. I rode in the ambulance to Mission ER, with an emergency medical-services worker taking my blood pressure, covering me with a blanket, talking to me reassuringly, and yet with the seriousness of someone doing an important job. I could not help but feel so moved that there was a team of people whose job it was to be on call to help someone when they needed it — in this case the someone was me.

I appreciated that EMS worker in the ambulance so much — someone who decided to make a career out of helping other people. I became furious about the tenor of the public conversation about budgets and public services. How dare politicians utter a word that suggests that this EMS worker’s service, the labor of anyone working for the public good, was not valuable?

On our way into the emergency room, the EMS team peeked around the corner to make sure that the last person they had dropped off, less than an hour ago, was getting treatment. They got me situated and left to wait for their next call. I felt profoundly grateful for their care, and for what they represented: people prioritizing taking care of each other.

I will stand (for now on crutches) for no more small-hearted talk about cutting human services, for no more disparaging language about people who've taken on the work of caring, helping, teaching, for no more draconian moves to slash funding for services and programs that are about all of our well-being.

We are valuable and we are worth it. Regardless of age, income, documentation, gender expression or physical or mental ability. We all get to decide together that we will prioritize each other.

— Jonathan Dudley
Asheville

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