Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Rant About Human Decency


Sitting at a restaurant the other night, I overheard a conversation between two men who were obviously not happy with the healthcare law or the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

They talked for a good while on this, and I didn't interject. I just sat there listening, drinking my beer and eating my penne pasta while observing the after-work discussion between these two average guys.

One made the point: "We're all human beings, and I feel bad that everyone doesn't have insurance. They should. But it's not MY responsibility to pay for them."

This comment made me cringe.

To me, that illustrates the disconnect we have as a people on this topic. We claim to be wanting what's right for our fellow human beings, but we're too selfish to pay for it. To recognize that we ALL have the duty, as fellow people, to help each other out.

At the foundation, this isn't about taxes or politics or whether one person is lazy or not and deserves to have "free" healthcare... This is about doing what's right for another human being.


A friend from Australia was visiting recently and we started talking about all this. They have universal coverage in that country. I asked whether there's any minority view or dissent, people who don't think that's what Australia should have and it should be changed. He said no, there isn't. It's not a political discussion; never has been. People just understand that it's about more than you or me, it's about all of us being healthy and helping out society in whatever way we're supposed to.

Now, I love being a resident of the United States of America. For all the jazz everyone will ever use as a reason. But we have our faults, and this debate is one of the key ones - in my honest opinion.

Too often, we can't see past our arrogance of personal freedom, and at the end of the day it too often trumps basic human decency.
 
I hear this regularly: Why should I have to give away my hard-earned money to someone who doesn't work?

My answer: Because it's the right thing to do. Because this country, this world, hell any community, is bigger than one person. It's about all of us. Suck it up and recognize that. And no, it's not good enough that you occasionally donate to a charity or buy someone dinner or give money at church each week.

Be a fucking human being first, before an American or a political party member or whatever other reason there may be for not doing it.

6 comments:

Shannon@ The New Normal Life said...

Amen!! I am struggling over at facebook right now. I was sooo angry about all the comments I posted my own statement- a lot of people were supportive but sooo many people right now don't get the bottom line.. This plan isn't perfect but it truly gets the ball rolling. It is about taking care of our people. YES the govt needs to step in because these private insurance companies are only about the money. THANK YOU for a great post and reminding me there are others who care about the people as much as I do. THANK YOU

Kate said...

Great post, Mike. I will admit that I don't know much about the history behind other countries' universal health care, but I'm concerned that we in the USA won't get there. Why? Because health insurance is big business and they won't easily let go of the almighty dollar...and the USA is all about freedoms, including making as much money as we can.

Like Shannon said, I'm not sure this is the complete answer but I'm encouraged that SOMETHING is being done! We can't continue in the direction we're going.

I particularly like this sentence and plan to share it. Well said.

"Too often, we can't see past our arrogance of personal freedom, and at the end of the day it too often trumps basic human decency."

Melissa said...

Well said! You've summed up my feelings on this issue.

"People just understand that it's about more than you or me, it's about all of us being healthy and helping out society in whatever way we're supposed to."

I feel like we've lost this sense in the US. Its no longer about helping our friends and neighbors but more about "I got mine" and tough luck for you.

I think the Obamacare debate speaks to larger issues - it feels like all around we are losing a sense of community and helping one another.

Thanks for sharing this post.

Scott S said...

Well said, Mike. Ironically, the views you describe exist in certain geographic areas far more than others. Where I live in New York (although there are always a few who disagree) seems to be that universal healthcare is a goal we as a country should support. But in other areas, that view is more a minority. However, I do believe you've described it well: "it isn't about taxes or politics or whether one person is lazy or not and deserves to have "free" healthcare ... This is about doing what's right for another human being." Other societies have reached the conclusion that universal healthcare is a human right, not an individual right, hence they have universal coverage. Ironically, virtually every country with nationalized healthcare pays significantly less than the U.S. does with our "private" healthcare as a benefit, not a right. Maybe when we decide to address costs of healthcare, we'll realize our business model is far more expensive than what other countries enjoy without millions with no coverage at all.

Scott E said...

"People just understand that it's about more than you or me,it's about all of us being healthy and helping out society in whatever way we're supposed to."
That, in a nutshell, is the big problem with how democracy works (or is supposed to work) in the United States. There's doing what's right, and there's the lure of voting for what's makes my wallet fatter. Political campaigns recognize and exploit the power of the latter - the group of people who cast the majority of votes - and that just serves to divide economic classes even further.

That said, I believe that government should have a fundamental obligation to protect its people-- from enemies as well as from disease. Whether it's through the military, the local police, or the hospitals, it should foster an environment that allows its citizens to thrive as individuals. I will add one caveat, though. It's not government's job to protect people from themselves. If a person endangers themselves through gang activity, substance abuse, or something similar, that person must hold responsibility for the resulting consequenses of their behavior, they can't hide within the protection of the US Government.

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