Arizona, affectionately dubbed “the baby of the great family” when it became the 48th state, turns 100 this month looking less like a baby and more like a somewhat crazy, gun-toting uncle (we are one of two states with an official state gun). National media coverage of Arizona has most recently featured a polarizing sheriff, a finger-wagging Governor and a seemingly inescapable anti-immigration shadow. All of which might sound like politics until you think about what it means in terms of health.
Arizona (not unlike much of the rest of the U.S.) has been perceptually mired in a bunker mentality since the beginning of the the great recession. Large segments of people with physical and behavioral health conditions have been separated from the resources that could help them, while state funding for public health has all but disappeared in order to fiscally ‘save’ the state. The actions of public elected figures only heighten the sense that there is not enough to go around and all of us are on our own.
What’s true in the community context applies here: we need to stop thinking primarily about deficits and consider assets, redress problems for the opportunities they can present, and think more in terms of investment in people instead of charity to consumers. As was documented in After the Dust Settles and Putting the Pieces (Back) Together, we have to start from where we are and envision a practical transformation for Arizona going forward.
Now that we’ve turned 100 it’s time to grow up. What truly matters more than how we got here is what we’re going to do next.