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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘cartoon’

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words (Part 5)

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

The last cartoon that came out of the discussion with the well spouse group depicted how society sees the well spouse, or should I say doesn’t see him. The cartoonist aptly titled it, “The Insignificant Other.”



The cartoon shows a well spouse wheeling her husband. He appears to be comfortable. He is smiling and clearly enjoying all the attention he is getting. The placement in the cartoon of the other people indicates that he is the center of attention. The faces around him appear concerned, involved, caring and kind. They are men and women, young and old. The wife is depicted set somewhat apart from the group around her husband*, making her seem invisible – insignificant and detached. She neither smiles nor frowns. At her feet is a young child. The child too is invisible – detached from the group. He is holding on to his mother’s leg. But she cannot pick him up and push the chair. No one seems to even notice he is there. *(In the actual drawing that would not have been reproduced clearly in print in this issue, both the wife and the little child were drawn in broken lines, indicating that they are invisible to the group.)




The support group spent a lot of time talking about this cartoon. They felt it showed a unique perspective from both a child and adult’s point of view. They had all experienced being “invisible” – never being noticed enough to be asked how they were or if they needed anything. They particularly zeroed in on the child. As mothers, this group often worried about their children. What would they know of a normal relationship after growing up in a home where illness offset most husband and wife interaction? How would they relate as fathers to their own children, as their experience with an ill father may have been limited? Were they getting enough attention from their mothers, and could the mothers possibly provide more? One woman noted that the child was walking, as you can’t push a wheelchair and stroller or carry a child and push a chair at the same time. And, as for putting them on the lap of the ill person, many of the chronically ill do not have the strength to hold an infant or a wiggly toddler. Placing a child on their lap could be dangerous to them both.


The group was very impressed with the amount of clarity of emotion the cartoonist had picked up from their meeting. He said he gleaned the information from both what they said and what they hadn’t said. His counselling background helped him read the body language, sighs and innuendos. All of the group members felt that the cartoons truly reflected feelings they had had – and many still had. They were amazed at the insight of the artist and how clearly he captured their feelings in what he had drawn.


Many wanted to show the cartoons to others, in hopes it would help gain more understanding from family and friends. Some felt it was too personal and they would be condemned by those closest to them for feeling this way. They all agreed, however, to allow me to use them in my articles. They hoped it would help give people more insight into what they have to deal with and how they deal with their lives. I thank them for allowing me to share it with you. They insisted on staying anonymous.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words (Part 4)

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

The next two cartoons from the well spouse group I interviewed are almost identical. One seems to me to come from society and one from chronically ill spouses themselves. Perhaps it is the message that society gives us that forms the expectations of an ill spouse. The only one in the pictures, who seems to be objecting to the expectations placed on them, is the well spouse.


I see the box in the cartoon as society’s expectations of well spouses. The role others have decided we should play. Others include, as illustrated in the second cartoon, our ill spouses or perhaps a parent or relative. Anyone who might refer to us as “Dear”. The box, to me, is rigid and inflexible. It does not allow for change. It is being imposed on an unwilling well spouse who is desperately trying to avoid it, even to the point of screaming. The person imposing the box is smiling in one picture. It seems to imply that once s/he is in the box things will be better, at least for those outside the box. The other picture seems to indicate that once you have succeeded in placing the box of expectations on the well spouse, you work very hard at keeping him or her there. The box holder is even jumping on the box in order to keep the well spouse captive.


I spoke to the group about their reaction to the cartoon. Many were surprised to see their feelings illustrated in this way. They were surprised that the cartoonist had picked up on it. Few of them remembered talking about expectations that came outside themselves. Yet, most of them felt it was a very accurate picture of how they felt. They felt trapped in a box of expectations that was not of their making, that they had no say in but could not change. Many of them had been living with ill spouses for more then a decade. They felt the rules needed to be different then in a crisis illness. No crisis lasts 10, 15 or 20 years. Yet here they were, decades later, having the same expectations placed on them as if their spouse had just had his first heart attack after years of exceptional good health. It’s not that those in a crisis have it easier. They just felt that when your life never returns to how it used to be, and you’re always in crisis mode you need to give to yourself. No one else will.


One member of the group saw it a bit differently. She felt the box was self-imposed. They are the rules and behavior we feel are appropriate for ourselves. When I asked her about the look on the faces of well spouses, she told me that it is not something we enter willingly or easily. We may enter it kicking and screaming, but in the end it is we who choose to put the box of expectations on ourselves. To her, the box holder was our conscience, morals and or religious training that helps decide, though not happily, to impose the life we live and the things we do in caring for our loved ones, on ourselves.


Everyone agreed that it was not as much an issue of right and wrong, but more one of what we choose to accept as our role in a terribly challenging situation. The group did feel that if the “box” of societal and personal expectations was not quite so rigid, it would be easier to make changes in care giving that might be beneficial to both the well spouse and the chronically ill. But, most often, any change from the expected norm is dismissed as wrong without even thinking it through. The box is just too big and too hard to break out of.


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words (Part 3)

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

As I continue to share the cartoons from a well spouse group I interviewed, I’d like to share one that illustrates a common bone of contention to well spouses and their partners. Have you ever noticed how people tend to talk louder to people whose first language is not English? Clearly they know that saying the same words, just louder, will make no difference in helping someone understand them. Yet, they persist. Have you ever noticed how people who are disabled are also treated to louder voices when they are spoken to? Do people really think that the source of their disability is in their ears or that they must be hard of hearing, since they can’t walk or see or stand? Yet, this is a common practice that we all tend to do. For the most part, it is harmless, sometimes even amusing. But there is one common habit, illustrated by the next cartoon that is neither amusing nor benign.


It is very common for well spouses to be asked about their partner’s condition. After all, when a person is chronically ill, people are concerned. It is just as common for a person to ask their spouses how their partner is, right in front of the person they are inquiring about. It is not that the ill people they are enquiring about cannot hear, nor are they cognitively delayed, so that they don’t understand the question. They are not mute, and are capable of dealing with an inquiry about their health, directed at them when they are alone. However, as soon as they are in the company of their spouse, they are treated as less then a child and are totally ignored. Then the simple question of “How are you?” becomes the whispered inquiry of “How is he?” Further, as soon as the well spouse has the audacity to answer, “Fine.” the answer is usually not accepted and tends to be followed by the question, “Really, how is he?”


The woman in the support group jokingly decided that people see them all as either pathological liars, or just as a spouses, reluctant to discuss their partner’s condition. If indeed, they are trying to avoid talking about the health of the person to whom they are married, why would anyone insist on pursuing it? Yet, this was a common experience to every woman in the group. They told me that people just would not accept “Fine” as the answer, and they felt as if they were being harassed until they came up with something negative to say. As for their spouses, they hated being ignored and dreaded having someone else be asked how they were, especially when they were sitting right there. Many of their wives told me that their partners found it insulting and demeaning.


The wives, on the other hand felt that, bypassing the sick persons when making a simple inquiry about their health and directing it to them instead, just gave them added responsibility. Not only do they have to care for their spouses, often in ways people really don’t want to know about, but they are also now responsible for regular updates on their condition. This is something their chronically ill spouses are not only capable of giving, but might really benefit from handling. It would let them know someone else cares. Imagine for a moment someone coming up to your well spouse, leaning over to him/her, conspiratorially and in a hushed voice say, “Really, how is your husband/wife.” What would your reaction be? What would be the reaction of your spouse? I think the cartoon says it all.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words (Part 2)

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Last week I began to share the work of a support group. A cartoonist had come and put into cartoons the emotions, feelings and attitudes experienced by the group. The first cartoon was called Deep Pockets and aptly showed the multitude of emotions that a well spouse pushes deep down into his or her many pockets. The cartoon could just as well be of a woman with a male caregiver, but this support group was made up of only women and the gender is only an expression of who was there. It is not meant to make any gender comment. This week’s cartoon explores something very different. It talks about the relationship in a marriage, where one is dependent through necessity, socialization or habit. The dynamic is clear from the picture, and the title is perhaps shocking. Who does have the power in this picture?

 

Above we see a chronically ill person who is wheelchair bound. His expression is one of sadness and dependence, and he seems to be uninvolved. He is even leaning away from his wife, who is standing next to him. She has a sort of forced semi smile (or perhaps it is just an absence of a frown). Her hand is on his shoulder for moral support. She looks unfocused, tired and overwhelmed. The title asks, “Who is the powerful one in this picture”? Below the picture, the cartoonist put some words in the man’s mouth. “Give me! Get me!” “Why do you have to go out?” “Where are you going? When are you coming back?” “Move me a little to the right.”


In a normal relationship, where there is a give-and-take, these words may not be as emotionally laden as they are in this situation. Note the lack of “please” and “thank you”. These woman felt that those little courtesies would have made a vast difference in what they were asked to do to assist their spouses. Their lack made them feel taken for granted, used and even abused. They told me that the demands and questions the cartoonist listed were things they heard all the time. They brought with them tremendous feelings of guilt. Guilt for being the healthy one, for being able to leave the house on their own and go where they wanted; when they wanted. As one woman said, “How do you say ‘no’ to someone who can’t do it for himself; no matter how you feel or how tired you are. Even if you think what he’s asking for is something he is capable of doing for himself, you can’t just say ‘get it yourself’ or ‘I’m busy now’. So, who does have the power in a relationship where you can never say ‘no’. Not me!”


There are many different kinds of power that we come across in our lives. Some are obvious. An employer who decides if we remain employed or not has power over us. So too is the power of a union that defends a person who is fired. But in these cases there is some recourse, someone to go to for help. But who does a well spouse go to to discuss the power his or her spouse has over them? Who would understand that a chronically ill person, who may not be able to move can still exert a great deal of power, even if it is only over the spouse?













Hateful Cartoon; Liberal Hypocrisy

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003

Dick Locher, a cartoonist for Tribune Media Services, touched off a mini-firestorm last week with a blatantly anti-Semitic editorial cartoon that ran in the May 30 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

The cartoon portrayed a large-beaked Ariel Sharon standing on a bridge over an imaginary “Mideast Gulch” as President Bush, on bended knee, places U.S. dollars in Sharon’s path. Locher has the Israeli prime minister gazing down at the money and saying, “On second thought, the pathway to peace is looking a bit brighter.”

Responding to the cartoon and the complaints that followed its publication, Tribune Public Editor Don Wycliffe wrote in his June 1 column: “The best editorial cartoons…have all the nuance and delicacy of a stick in the eye. But even at its roughest and bluntest, there are lines that a cartoon should not cross. On Friday, our editorial page ran a cartoon that crossed all the lines.”

Wycliffe described some of the outraged reader reaction to the cartoon, including the comments of Chicago political activist Don Rose who labeled it “blatantly anti-Semitic, reinforcing the long-held racist image of Jews as avaricious and greedy.”

Wycliffe said he agreed with Rose. “It is no secret to readers of this column that I have been no fan of Sharon and his policies,” he wrote. “But I was jolted when I looked at the cartoon and saw that figure with the hooked nose, the Star of David and those words (particularly since money has never been the decisive issue in the Middle East dispute.)”

In an unusual move, the Tribune’s hometown rival, the Chicago Sun Times, blasted the cartoon as “caricature assassination,” likening it to “a swastika painted on a synagogue door.”

As for cartoonist Locher, he denies any malicious intent. “I was trying to go to bat for the American taxpayer,” he told Editor & Publisher. “Israel is a good friend, but let’s get an accounting of where the money is going.”

Locher’s comment hardly justifies the cartoon’s obvious message, which, in the words of the above-cited Sun Times editorial, is “that Israel’s interest in peace is sparked, not by a desire to end bloodshed, but by American cash.” Nor does Locher explain how “trying to go to bat for the American taxpayer” is served by render ing Sharon as, again in the words of the Sun Times, a “hump-backed, balloon-handed, hook-nosed Jew.”

* * *

Former Bush speechwriter and bestselling author David Frum summed up liberal hypocrisy quite nicely earlier this week on NationalReviewOnline: “Sometimes,” he wrote, “I think contemporary liberalism has to be understood not as a type of politics but as a species of mental illness. How else to understand the New York Times’s account on the newly released Justice Department report on the post-9/11 detention of terror suspects”

According to the Times, “the report represented a high-level validation of the concerns voiced by civil rights groups about the broad net authorities have cast in prosecuting the campaign against terrorism.”

Oh yeah? The reasons for detention listed in the report sound perfectly reasonable in the context of post-9/11 America. Is it really so outrageous for a citizen to worry when two Middle Eastern men rent a truck from him ostensibly for a one-way trip to a distant city, return it just a few minutes later after driving only a few miles, forfeit a large deposit without complaint, and seem visibly nervous through the transaction?

When the citizen reports the incident and it turns out that the men are present in the country illegally, is it really so intolerable for the FBI to hold them, question them, and then deport them?

If you remember how much favorable attention the press gave to reports last year that the Bush administration had missed opportunities in the summer of 2001 to detain the nineteen 9/11 hijackers, you have to wonder – are they telling us that in a national emergency the government should detain only those illegal immigrants who later turn out to be dangerous and no illegal immigrants who later turn out not to be dangerous? Is it really true that the cause of civil liberties requires law enforcement to have 100% perfect foreknowledge of what their investigations will later find?

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/hateful-cartoon-liberal-hypocrisy/2003/07/02/

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