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Recent and increasing violence against healthcare workers has hospital administrators and healthcare professionals worried.

Where once “bad words,” belligerent attitudes, or arguments defined the extent of upset people’s reactions to healthcare situations they didn’t like, now these people are crossing the line into aggressive behavior. Several incidents across the country seem to suggest people are thinking, to quote a movie, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Theories for why this is happening range from “We have a dysfunctional healthcare system,” to “See, we need Obamacare” to “It’s the healthcare system treating people poorly,” to “It’s the fact healthcare has become a commodity,” to “We need to hire more security,” to “Doctors and nurses should realize people are under a lot of stress.” Maybe any or all of these observations bear consideration. But I think the problem is deeper than this.

In fact, I don’t think violence against healthcare professionals has anything to do, per se, with healthcare. One reason I believe this is that violent behavior is on the rise across American society, not just within health services. People are acting out violently, more than ever before, in schools: Virginia Tech—military bases: Fort Hood—public political events: Congressman Gabrielle Giffords—and more.

The reason violence is increasing in American society is because our moral consensus about right and wrong, and how to teach these principles to children, has long sense fractured and declined. An entire generation, if not more than one, has grown up (not matured) without being taught:

--Moderation: it’s OK, in fact it’s better, not to let it all hang out,

--Responsibility: a sense of what they owe the world as opposed to what the world owes them,

--Accountability: we all have limits and we all are rightly constrained by morality, law, and common decency,

--Stewardship: you are vested with talent and time and are expected to use them wisely to care for yourself and your family,

--Respect: each human being deserves our respect as a person if not always as a person acting properly,

--Faith: trust in the Lord and our families to care for us more than we trust in healthcare, the government, or any other entity.

I could go on, but these are the basics. American society is in trouble because American culture is in trouble. We’ve jettisoned values that made us strong in the first place and now we wonder why we’re fraying on all the edges.

I don’t excuse those who act violently. They are responsible and should be accountable for their behavior. But their parents, religion, and culture failed them. To “fix” the problem we need to go back to basics: “In Adams Fall we sinned all,” and go from there.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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