Steer: a male bovine animal castrated before sexual maturity.
Obamacare: a state-run health care plan castrated before sexual maturity.
Media outlets are talking about the Affordable Care Act and how it’s going to affect the country. But right now, to a lot of people, ACA is akin to a big scary animal that they don’t understand and are afraid of getting run over by.
Last weekend I traveled to Dallas. On a trip to visit family I ended up at a place called the Lone Star Cowboy Church in Nevada, Texas.
This church is unlike any typical churches here in Washington. “Mix in a cowboy band, add a dash of humor, seasoned well with some cowboy poetry, and folks who are real and, by golly, you got Cowboy Church,” the church’s website said.
I didn’t attend any services but I did attend the “Hoof ‘N Foot,” a horseless ranch rodeo where teams of four compete in four different events. Meaning, I would be face-to-face with a 500-ish pound steer, staring him down.
At this point, you may be wondering why I decided to do this. Well, it was on my bucket list.
The unsettling feeling in my stomach started right away. When signing the release to participate, I subsequently noticed the lack of an ambulance anywhere on the grounds of the church.
If I had signed up for Obamacare, now would be a wonderful time to check and see if I was covered for random acts of stampede. But then again, my logging on to the mobile site may just have crashed the system all together.
You could say this was David vs. Goliath. We didn’t have a particularly skilled team, only two of our four participants having any actual ranching experience, all of us being novices in the competition. I don’t know how to throw a rope while simultaneously retaining my dignity. Other teams had competed before and were mostly fully composed of ranching families who actually performed these tasks on a daily basis.
The ground was muddy. Rains from the week before had yet to evaporate from the soil, creating a wonderful mixture of mud and manure we were inevitably going to slip in.
The first three events: sorting (making the cattle cross a line composed of flour in a specific order), mugging (wrestling the cattle down and tying three of their feet together) and branding (pretend branding of a specific steer after you wrestle it down and lay it on the correct side) all went off without a hitch for us.
Then it came to the final — and for one of our teammates, possibly the most dangerous — event of the day. Steer riding. We had to sort a specific steer out from the herd, rope him, throw a saddle on him and then ride him across the line.
The announcer yelled out, “Number Five!” and with that simple phrase I walked across the white line of flour that separated our team from the herd of six adolescent steer.
I ran to give support by grabbing the rope and, shortly after, another member of the team grabbed on. I proceeded to move up the rope and then decided to go for the head.
When a large animal with two horns protruding from his head is jumping in the air and fighting to get out of his binds, the first thought isn’t necessarily to go grapple with him. Yet that’s precisely what I did.
Bringing back techniques from my old wrestling days, I latched one arm under his left horn and the other arm over the right.
Holding on for dear life while yelling at the bull — politely telling him that he should calm down — my frail body was in front of a much more powerful force.
Now, metaphorically speaking, taking on the Affordable Care Act probably isn’t quite as dangerous as staring down a steer in the face. But who says it isn’t just as daunting?
A barrage of uncertainties surrounds the process that promises to solve our health care woes and the consequences of not registering could be, pardon the dramatic, life and death. Luckily, it seems that some of the quirks are coming out of the system and there are many resources looking to help people understand the new system.
The Affordable Care Act is not nearly as frightening as it seems. Due to the work by Republicans, some parts of the bill have been blunted or cut off all together. Like the CLASS Act that would have provided future assistance to the working disabled through a long-term program similar to that of a 401(k) plan. It was repealed back in January.
If you haven’t journeyed into the process of enrolling yet, just think of my first steps into the steer enclosure.
We didn’t win the competition, nor did we receive the coveted belt buckles that went along with the title, but I did come out of there with the knowledge that any challenge can be overcome.
I stepped into the arena with the objective of wrestling a steer. While the adversaries in my path may have seemed frightening, I still grabbed the bull by the horns and took it down.
With health-care, the nation shouldn’t be frightened. It’s already been neutered, now you just have to have the guts to wrestle with it.