Monday, 30 September 2013

Bring on the Slings and Arrows

I’m not one for shouting about my political leanings. I’m an American living in a European country. I can’t vote here because I haven’t given up my US citizenship. I don’t vote in my home country as I have lived here for 22 years and I don’t know enough about what’s going on over there to make an informed decision. Both situations leave me frustrated. BUT I’m a bit annoyed at the minute, a few raw nerves are starting to niggle at me and I need to say something.

I LOVE the National Health Service. 

I love it AS IT IS, warts and all. And the thought of it being mangled and destroyed, at the hands of politicians who are wealthy enough to pay for private health care and don’t care about those who are not, angers me. The fact that they freeze pay in the LOWER ranks of the NHS whilst higher pay grades AND government officials continue to get pay rises, nearly turns me into the Hulk, I get so angry.

It’s by no means perfect, but nothing in life is. I have seen both sides of things, I grew up in a country where public health care was sketchy and largely unavailable. I am the only one of my close friends or childhood family to have moved here. I have a brother living in Pennsylvania who has epilepsy which developed in his adulthood, and who spent years dangerously unwell as he kept running out of money for doctors. Diagnosis was impossibly slow because he got shoved from pillar to post and he kept having to start over again from scratch with new people when his funds ran out. I know people who have cancer and have had to sell their homes to pay for health care.

I have no idea how Obamacare will work, if it will work. But I think that the idea behind it is sound, and necessary. It is closer to our British system of health care than previous models used there. From many outside observers point of view, just across the border, Canada has a successful NHS. I’m sure in Canada, as in the UK, it has its own detractors, but public health care CAN work. It has worked for many years.

I am not a politician or an economist.

I am a person who thinks that we as a people, be we British, American or Swahili, have a God mandated duty of care for other people. We can and should look after the weakest and poorest amongst us, which means equal opportunity for legitimate, timely, affordable healthcare. If that means some of the richest amongst us have to put our hands in our pockets to care for our brothers and sisters, so be it.

We are all so busy looking in mirrors that we can’t see the bigger picture, or the person in the gutter three feet from us. The Me First attitude, the Me, ME, ME! mentality so pervasive in the world as a whole is a cancer of it’s own, eating away at our ability to see the bigger picture, to understand needs outside our own. It’s selfish and ugly.

When I read the first draft of this piece to my ENGLISH husband, he reminded me of the quote inscribed on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door. 
Whatever happened to that attitude?
I repeat, I am not a politician or an economist.

What I am is a person who has seen both sides of the situation; a person who suffers from a currently incurable illness which regularly knocks me on my ass. A person who has been loved and cared for by our FREE health care system. By nurses who are stretched to their limits by budget cuts and staff cuts. I have received care & medication that in REAL TERMS I could never afford on my budget because after years of working full time, my illness now prevents me from working. I am that SPONGER that YOU are paying for.

How’s that sit with you?

I know many people complain that FREE health care means that people who are LAZY and unwilling to work get a free ride. That may be so. But the physical numbers of people that fall into that category are far less than the numbers  of people who are legitimately ill and unable to work, unemployed due to the recession, or on low wages.

From my outside observance, one of the biggest complaints I see about Obamacare is that people don’t want to spend their hard earned money caring for those who can’t afford healthcare.

Grow up people. Any country and  people who refuse to band together in support of the weakest, the less fortunate among them is NOT a country based on love and human kindness.

It is a country that is headed for trouble.  

I love the NHS. And I think Obamacare, once the bugs are worked out, will be a GOOD thing.

Love each other. Put all the energy you direct at complaining to good use. Make things better for EVERYONE not just yourself.

That’s my political rant over.
Bring on the slings and arrows.