Monday, August 10, 2009


It has a ka-chunk feeling.

It's that feeling of satisfaction when a fact slips into place and suddenly you understood something that you didn't understand before. As a kid I remember having that feeling at school. Ka-chunk and suddenly I would understand what the x and y axis meant or get an image of water moving through the hydrologic cycle.

As I've gotten older I've noticed a similar feeling around a different kind of knowledge. I think of it as Knowing with a capital K. Its when my heart catches up with my head and I KNOW something. I usually already knew it with my head, perhaps for years. I had that feeling of Knowing when I drove by the low-income apartments on Sandy Blvd. one morning just as the school buses pulled in and watched as this huge horde of kids pile into the buses. I had always known that a lot of Parkrose students lived in apartments. But here they all were and so many of them! I could never look at the statistics the same way again. I had seen them and they now meant something to me.

I thought of that when I watched a clip of Wendell Potter being interviewed by Bill Moyer. Potter is an insurance executive who quit his job, and now works to expose how the insurance industry is trying to derail health-care reform. It's as good as my friend said it was, but I was fascinated by Potter's description of why he quit his job.

He had been visiting his family in Kentucky when he heard about a health fair at the county fair grounds. He was curious about it and drove over to check it out. What he saw appalled him. People in long lines, waiting for a free medical check up. Doctors doing procedures in horse stalls. He took pictures and showed them on air: hundreds of people waiting in line in the rain. He told Moyer, "I couldn't believe all the people." Moyers asks him "well didn't you know the statistics already." Potter answers "well I did, but this made it real, some of these people I probably grew up with." Potter didn't quit his job immediately but he finally did. The two realities of his high paying job and the people in the rain couldn't co-exist.

Potter had a conversion experience! We tend to think of conversion as only pertaining to religion. But Potter went through a rapid realignment of his heart, mind and soul that was as profound as the classic religious conversion. He looked out at people standing in the rain and felt that ka-chunk of real feeling. We can know something intellectually for a long time, but now and again we get the privilege of KNOWING it.

If you are interested in watching the video, Google Moyer Wendell Potter or try the link below:

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