Universal Precautions

Once again as a nation we are reeling from the destruction from guns and the misconstrued notion of what it means to agree to disagree.  We all talk about stopping the insanity yet we seem to be powerless to do anything about it.  I think deep down we want someone else to fix our social ills when really each one of us needs to take responsibility for the problem of hatred, violence and de-humanization of those whom we deem "different" from us. Whether we like it or not, we are called into community with each other.  We need each other for our own survival and certainly for the survival of our nation. 

Sometimes I wonder if some of our problem lies with the words that we choose to describe ourselves: black, white, hispanic, LGBT, liberal, conservative.  Sometimes I wonder if in our quest to be equal and diverse we have only focused on the diverse, which can lead (and has led) to division. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the simplest solutions might be the most complex to achieve. 

When I was in nursing school, the AIDS epidemic was just beginning.  There wasn't much information on how to treat and care for those with AIDS.  However, it was known that the pathogen was blood borne and so there needed to be precautions in place for the caregivers. 

I remember many a discussion with fellow students about the disease, the known transmission, and the care and treatment of those with HIV and AIDS.  I do remember a very heated and lively discussion with one student who was very opinionated about his feelings towards the lifestyle of people with AIDS. Underlying his strong comments was a vein of fear and misunderstanding. 

At that point there was a difference in treating and handling AIDS patients than with "regular" patients.   For example, one didn't need to wear gloves for drawing blood with "regular" patients but did for those with AIDS.  Eventually It was determined that all patients should be treated in the same manner, that hospital and medical personnel would wear protective equipment (gloves, face shield, etc.) for any procedure that was at risk for exposure to bodily fluids.  No longer would assumptions be made.  No longer would anyone else be able to tell the difference among patients by the way the staff were treating them.  From the idea of universal- everyone the same- precautions it is now called standard precautions.  No longer is there any thought based on the type of patient about how one handles personal protective equipment.  It is just done for all. Standard. 

I wonder if we can begin to end this fear and hatred of diverse people by stop drawing attention to our divisions and instead looking at our similarities.   Can we look at people as people- universal and not as red or blue or black or white?   Can we see that all people want respect, recognition and a sense of purpose? Can we be open to law enforcement and government recognizing that there might be a better way for them to do their jobs? Can we finally admit that we cannot fix the problem through violence? Can we go beyond our prejudices, our assumptions and our fears?  Can we see others as sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, friends- people who are loved and who love in return?  Can we just see people, no labels or demographic descriptions, as a matter of course?  Can it be done for all?   Standard.

All lives matter- no matter the color, creed, religion or profession.