“If the Government Owns My Health Care, Do I Still Own My Body?”
This is a question I saw on a Facebook political ad. It is a question that comes from fear of the future. Questions like these are based on the idea that unless the Universe unfolds in a way that conforms to some preconceived ideal, bad things will happen. Sages from Jesus to Buddha have advised that we should not worry about the future. Jesus bids us look at the birds of the air and the flowers of the field as examples of how well God provides for His creatures. Buddha says that we should concentrate on the present moment because life only occurs in the present moment; in order to do this, we must avoid regrets of the past as well as fear of the future.
Fearing the future is irrational because no one knows what the future will bring. Sometimes it brings something that may seem bad and sometimes it brings something that may seem good. Sometimes the bad thing turns out to be great and the good thing, well, not so much. The point is that we can never tell how things will turn out for sure until they are upon us. It is irrational to fear what may (or may not) turn out just fine.
Besides being based on the irrational fear of the unknown, the implication of the question is illogical. The question is meant to imply that if the government owns your health care, then the government will own your body. Of course there are many other possible outcomes. The logic used is the same as, “If not white, then black.” In reality every color of the rainbow exists between black and white, including many shades of grey.
To be owned is to be a slave. People who get health insurance through their employer do not own their insurance; their employer does. If an employer pays for health insurance without any employee contribution, the employees may have a strong incentive to stay with the company. In this company an employee may not like their job but may be afraid to leave because of the health care situation in America. They know that if they leave they will most likely have to pay more for their health care. One might say they are a slave to their fear of living without health care, or having to pay more for it. Perhaps if health care were nationalized they would feel liberated because they would no longer be beholden to their employer for health coverage. To this individual, government takeover of health care might be the opposite of slavery; it might be freedom.
On the other hand, people who are happy paying for their own health care may feel threatened by a government takeover of the industry. They may be afraid that the quality of their health care will be compromised, or that they will be paying for someone else’s health care. One could say that these people are slaves to their attachment to what is. People who are attached to what is will always be on the edge of being a victim of change, because life is change. Their only hope for liberation from the slavery of attachment is detachment. Detachment is achieved by training the mind to be attentive to the present moment though a daily practice of meditation.
Those who have invested heavily in the health care industry may be fearful of governmental takeover because they may lose their investment. Attachment to wealth is one of the most difficult forms of slavery to escape. Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of heaven. The first step the Buddha took on the path to enlightenment was away from his privileged existence. People who are slaves of wealth deserve our compassion.
Living in fear is a choice. If others choose to worry about where their health care (or their money) is going to come from, I respect their choice. I choose to live in gratitude and joy as much as humanly possible because I have learned that doing so is more enjoyable. I would rather enjoy life than worry about it.
How about you?