My tongue is in my hand…

We Are A Society

Posted on: March 24, 2010

“Horsefeathers. We are a society. We, as a society, decide to use our combined resources to provide certain services. If we, as a society, decide that healthcare should be one of those services, it is not theft anymore than universal policing is theft. If you choose not to support society, you are more than welcome to leave” LanceR, JSG, comment #55 on “Are Patients in Universal Healthcare Countries Less Satisfied?”: denialism blog.

This wonderful quote was in response to this comment: “I find it amusing that you would be ok with stealing from your neighbor to pay for your health care. Government is not charity or compassion, it is force. Forcing your neighbor to pay for someones healthcare is not christian, it is theft.” frodo, commenter 53.

Isn’t healthcare  one of those services that we feel should be funded in, by, and for our society? Is the general American mindset so un-evolved that it is still in caveman mode? All the over-the-top, selfish, self-righteous, loud, whiny, pessimistic rants all come down to a big confused grunt “My money! My money! My money!” with no apparent understanding of the concept of being part of a community, a society, a connected group of people whose well-being depends upon all others within that group.

Guess what? The more poor, homeless, sick, needy people you have in your community, the worse off your community is.  Walking around grunting about “your money” won’t improve your society. You being well-off does not benefit your society unless you utilize your resources to benefit your community. And guess what? You’ll only be safe in your little cocoon of “well-off” for so long before it all trickles up to you. At some point, the deterioration of your society will become a disadvantage to you. Is that the only time it matters?

Somewhere along the way, we began associating the idea of “American” with “fend for yourself”. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people talk about how “nice it must be to just pop out babies and sit around waiting on a check and getting free healthcare”. First of all, unless you’re disabled (woohoo, how great!), you don’t get a random check in the mail. If you’re going to criticize a system, you should take the time to educate yourself on it. Secondly, if it’s so “nice”, why don’t you do it? No one’s stopping you- go ahead! Living below the poverty line is awesome. It’s what they talk about sitting in the DSS waiting room- how incredibly easy and wonderful it is to be so needy that you qualify for Medicaid and food stamps and are potentially stuck in the sick cycle that is poverty.

But of course, it’s all their fault. I mean, if they didn’t want to live like that, they wouldn’t. They have all the same means and opportunities as everyone else. Again, I ask anyone who believes this crap to educate themselves.

I have the privilege of being educated via my career with a  mental health agency funded largely by Medicaid money and I am not, contrary to what you may believe, a bleeding heart. I don’t feel bad for people. I don’t believe in enabling people. But I do believe in empowering people. I do believe in seeking out the root of the problem and brainstorming ways to overcome obstacles. I do know what I would want for someone to do for me (or anyone I care about) if ever shoes were swapped and I were sitting in the needy spot. I know how I would want to be treated. I know that consistently being told I suck at life and don’t deserve help is not helpful and will not improve my chances at becoming a more productive part of society.

I know you should never believe you are really any different from them just because you happen to be in a different social class, whether by birth or effort. And you can’t be sure that your social class won’t drastically change. We are all one well placed misfortune away from rock bottom. You’re blissfully naive if you truly believe that you are smart enough, prepared enough, supported enough to never hit rock bottom. To never desperately need help from a stranger, from society as a whole. No one is invincible, no one is an island.

Why, as members of a shared society, are we so concerned with pointing out our differences and climbing over one another to be “better than” as opposed to working together towards the well being of our shared existence?

What is so scary about strengthening our community? I think I know. I think Americans are convinced that the only indicator of success is money. So when someone suggests that perhaps those with more money and resources are in some way obligated to share and support those with less money and resources for the good of the community as a whole, people get freaked out about sharing their hard (or not so hard) earned “success” and immediately scream “Socialist!” “Communist!” “Christian!”. Oh, wait, they don’t scream “Christian!”. Hmm…

You know, the government would have no need to “force” us to help each other if we just did it. If we just saw a need and worked to meet it. If we just saw ourselves as the essential elements of change within our communities that we are and worked together to make our collective lives better. (Crazy, right?) Tossing a few bucks at charity, volunteering a few times a year, and praying from your warm safe little house doesn’t cut it. It’s a bandaid. We have to really get our hands dirty to help change happen. We have to give what we’ve got to better our society.

But that’s not the “American Way”.  Americans pull themselves up by their bootstraps all on their own. Americans never need help, even from each other. Americans are not obligated to look out for their fellow Americans, only themselves. Americans don’t need to ask themselves why people in their community need help, nor do they need to do anything about that. If your life sucks, too bad for you! Good thing I’m not one of those screw-ups!

Wake up America, We Are A Society. We are interdependent upon one another. Whether we like it or not.


3 Responses to "We Are A Society"

See…you’re a great deal more eloquent than I am. My blog was more of an irate, cathartic release…this is (while in no way any way less than what I said) at least far more palatable.

(Seeing as you weren’t calling said self-absorbed people twats or cunts).


Well, I would argue that you’re extremely eloquent as well! I’ve read (and love) your writing! 😀

This is so refreshing. Southern Missouri is frustrated as hell about all this healthcar, obama this, obama that. It’s like they’re prepping for armageddon or something.

I think this is a hugely important post. And I’ll be referring to it, probably later today when the 7/7 other people I work with again begin hailing the passage of healthcare reform as the beginning of the end. Pffffffffft.

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