Self-Care Tip #159 – Be accountable for and to yourself.
It was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which in my part of the world is considered hot. But in Washington D.C., I considered that temperature general anesthesia. I was breathing it in and trying hard to remain alert. Just when I thought I could hold out no longer, I saw him. Big and expressive, the long form of Abraham Lincoln was there, surrounded by loud irreverent people. My brother and I were wiping sweat out of our eyes trying to keep track of our kids. We wanted to read the Gettysburg Address for our kids, and found ourselves screaming. The kids could barely hear the words above the disinterested rabble around us. Despite all this, I was choking; a weepy, sweaty, nearly anesthetized but free American.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
Just down the corner from Lincoln is a president’s list of sites to see, informers and reminders of who we are and where we came from. However, none of them were “my Lincoln” experience.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…
A couple of days ago, writing the post about how stress intersects with medicine, I remembered “my Lincoln.” It may seem like a stretch at first but take a minute. Self-care is a way of saying, “I am free.” In places where life is cheap, almost without value, self-care is not much of an option. It is because of freedom that we can extricate the meddling fingers, the invasions, and be the keeper of our own private spaces however we choose to. It is because of freedom that we can tell people that although my brain is ill and although I take medication, I am equal. Saying that is self-care. Saying that is possible if we take that freedom to keep our own accountability for our own selves. Accountability is not the same as blame. Having accountability for our freedom is not the same as being at fault for what came before freedom, nor our current conditions.
—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
If you’re not accountable to your inner self, if you’re only accountable to your actions, or you’re only accountable to what others determine and define about you, than you are not free. You are blamed.
Accountability is such a tender privilege. We might lose it if we forget who we are, where we came from and our rights to freedom. Democracy is self-care.
Question: How do you see the relationship between self-care and your freedoms? Please tell me your story.