We all know generalizations can be wrong, but we keep doing them, don’t we? I’m just going to address one today.

I keep hearing the refrain that bleeding-heart liberals always expect the government to do things for them. Let me tell you this story.

Over twenty years ago an aging married couple wondered how their son, afflicted with schizophrenia was going to fit into his community. They knew they wouldn’t be around forever to supervise his care. They hit upon a plan. With some help from some others in our small town, they purchased an older home and made it suitable for six residents and a supervisor. The vision declared they would provide housing and minimal supervision for citizens with mental illness to live in the community. They formed a nonprofit entity with a board to oversee the home. The business model was that the rents paid by the residents would cover the maintenance costs, and the supervisor could live there rent free. The residents would be screened and their cooperative behavior was an expectation of continued residence.

Honestly, I don’t know if this founding family was Republican, Democrat, Socialist or pagan; they just sound pretty common sense to me.

I learned about this in my fifth year of my six years in the Idaho Senate. The board president sent me an email, asking for a meeting. I assumed they wanted me to support some sort of state funding, since I was on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. Everybody always wants government money, don’t they? But these folks didn’t. They just wanted me to know about their institution. They were indeed bleeding-heart liberals. But they didn’t want a dime from the taxpayers.

To be honest, the only way some of their residents could afford the rent had to do with their disability. They did get taxpayer money to support their living. Some had disability payments. Most had Medicaid or Medicare to fund their medical services. Some indeed had regular employment, though often part time and low wage. But work can be important to keep one in community.

It is just six citizens with mental illness this foundation serves, and our community probably has hundreds more eking by. But it truly is a noble vision; and an accomplishment to be proud of.

I have driven by this house many times in my small town. I did not know its purpose or function. I greatly appreciated them sharing their story with me. I worry that elected representatives who won’t meet with either bleeding-heart liberals or flaming conservatives won’t know the stories of their communities.

There is one cliff hanger to this tale. The bleeding-heart liberal board members I met with were all much older than me. And they were having a hard time finding community citizens of a younger age who would take on this role of governance. It is a small job. Let’s hope somebody will step up.

Next time you think you know what’s in the heart of your bleeding-heart liberal neighbor or your flaming conservative boss, take a step back and have the courage to have a conversation. We all need it.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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