Can’t say I was looking forward to it, but I am anticipating some surgery and was trying to have in place some practical steps because it’s one thing to be within minutes of your hospital and quite another if hours are needed to get there. I was doddering ahead with a strategy I hoped was safe and practical when I got a call from a medical establishment giving me their plan. Have you ever been given your bill by a server who wants to free up your table for the next pepperoni pizza eaters? You don’t have to hear “Get out” to know that’s what’s hoped for. It is lamentably sad, of course, that a person’s eating speed or their individual health might be an inconvenience to a restaurant or health provider.

In my case the provider could get me out the door sooner and free up my “table” if, as they strongly urged, I’d find someone to help me during the recovery period. I was told “You need someone to stay at home with you after surgery.” Well there it was. They’d hit on one of the very foundation fundaments of my way of life, one based on the profoundest belief that the one of the greatest kindnesses I could do others was live alone. Now I admit it is self-serving to call that a kindness when I’m more certain I’d have a hell of a difficult time finding anyone strong stomached or dumb enough to agree to habit under the same roof with me. This would be a rare person in an age when saints aren’t all that common or valued. On the other end there are quite a few I’d think deserved punishment of being manacled to me for a time, but the most worthy of those are wary. I’d need years to lure them in but don’t have the time for that. A mail order marriage could fill the gap, but even doing that requires more time than I have available before surgery.

I suspect I’ll seem a difficult and uncooperative patient if a balk at merry marriage without the satisfaction of a honeymoon before going under the knife. This will probably be seen as unreasonable of me, but I am quite firm on this. I want to take some time to smell the roses before I sniff the ether.

However, this piece isn’t about my woes. The thing sticking with (or in) me from this experience is the way in which term or concepts come to “think” for us. Calling a thing care or calling it a plan suggests the positive when in fact there can be poor care and bad plans. A plan that moves a surgical patient thirty minutes distant in placid August is less dicey than a plan that trucks the person several hours up bumpy 61 in February. I think the way to look at things is in their details rather than at their presumptions or hoped for effects. Unexamined use of terms can lead to the opposite of what is intended.

Some might say I’m racist for what I’m about to question, but I honestly do wonder at the way the term refugee is being used currently in Europe. I recall refugees and DPs from the past as primarily women and children traveling and arriving quite destitute. More recently the Lost Boys from Africa were refugees fleeing for their lives because males from another group were trying to eliminate them as competition over the available supply of wives. (Mothers and sisters were kept for “use,” so young men and boys were fleeing alone and essentially unaided.)

Those currently being termed refugees in Europe seem, to me, migrants who have been fed, housed, and moved along under a pretense. It took considerable effort and resources to get them to Europe. Why wasn’t that effort put into working within their home areas? I don’t think a society is built or improved by exporting its workers to put them places where they are ill adapted and possibly even less inclined to participate in society than they’d be at home. There should be concern for refugees and displaced people. But as with good plans and bad there needs be attention to details beyond the superficial imposition of a category that does the thinking for us. Calling someone a refugee does not make it so any more than terming a pickpocket a small business owner changes reality.

As I examine it I see the current refugees as being almost exactly opposite of the Lost Boys. The new crop of young males who are presumed as refugees are on the move because their system of belief is the same as that which created the Lost Boys and results in a surplus of males because each male is religiously entitled to four wives. The numbers never work out by natural means so there are always going to be a lot of surplus males in those systems and those systems are now dealing with that by doing what we see currently. It is true that poverty and opportunity play a role, but as with Somali pirates; yes they were struggling fishermen but you’d forever be poor as a fisherman trying to support four wives and families. The quickest solution was piracy as the way to fund the unreasonable objective of owning four wives. And, despite being barefoot how impoverished are pirates who have high speed powerboats and an arsenal goodly enough to take over a large ship?

I can joke and quip about getting me a wife so I can have someone handy to look after me following surgery, but in other instances that kind of thought is fundamental within a belief system. You or I might think these things in the past and not a concern in modern, progressive, and liberal societies. Indeed they are not. But let us not allow use of terms to think for us. What we see has little to do with modern society and much to do with implacable theology.