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Healthcare. Right or Privilege?

Updated on December 8, 2012
What does Privilege Want?
What does Privilege Want?

In 1624, English clergyman and renown poet, John Donne, wrote. "No man is an island, entire to itself; Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a single clod is washed away by the sea then England is the less. Every mans death diminishes me because I am involved in humankind; therefore, ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee".

Those words encapsulate the invisible connection we share as members of humanity. They proclaim that the heart of man, reaches beyond himself. That he is bound, like the pages of a book, to every other, who like him, is engaged in the common struggle to live. We are bound because death is not independent or solitary. It affects those of us left behind. We can not by effort, separate ourselves from one another in so exhaustive and fundamental an endeavor because the death of any man illuminates our own struggle.

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that we are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights."

There is no right more fundamental to equality than the right to live and that right goes well beyond a "right to birth". That is what we do. It consumes us until death steals from us the fight with which we come. The right does not exist apart from the provision necessary to sustain the right. The idea that this right expires at conception and then relegates itself to privilege is absurdity. Privilege is confined to those things which adorn life, not things which sustain life.

Our greatness as a nation does not spill from the unabridged freedom to exercise individual rights, but, from the compromise of individual rights to insure the rights of one another. That is the seed that grows greatness. That is where we harvest nobility from the stubborn ground of individual pursuit. It isn't a matter of either/or. It is a matter of not exalting one, at the expense of the other. It is a notion, that in preserving the dignity of one another, we give birth to dignity within ourselves. How does one defend a right to life, while concurrently, restricting the reasonable access to that, which sustains life? In doing so, we diminish the integrity of an idea which gave birth to a nation. The idea that one people will not and should not, advance their individual liberty, apart from the mutual pledge to simultaneously protect the same liberties of those who form that nation.

"And in support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor".

The final statement from "The Declaration of Independence" moves us beyond an alter of individual pursuit to consider a proposition; that individual rights exist, in the assurance that each others rights, co exist; that such assurance is mutual and that its provision is equal.

A "right to life" can not exclude reasonable access to that provision which is necessary to the exercise of life. The reasonable procurement of shelter, food, water and health care are necessary to sustain the viability of life. Disproportionate access to those provisions, diminishes the idea, that "a right to life" is equal and advances instead, the notion that when the bell tolls, until it tolls for me, it does not toll at all. When access reaches an economic threshold diminishing reasonable procurement for a provision necessary to sustain "a right to life" then equality gives way to privilege. Imagine trying to buy water at a free market price which is driven by consumer demand.

The price of water is regulated so that it's necessity to the preservation of life is not compromised by the rule of privilege.

I do not presume an answer to the problems confronting health care in this country. I do presume that whatever the answer, it should be conceived in the preservation of an idea that reveres our common struggle. That "We the People" engaged in a common pursuit, hold this truth to be self evident; that the right to life should not exclude that which is necessary to its exercise and that we hold in perpetuity the notion that such access is mutual and equal.

The greatness of a nation is never more eloquently voiced, never more elegantly portrayed, than when its advantaged speak on behalf of its disadvantage. Although wealth may well adorn and decorate lives with the luxury afforded by individual industry, it can not purchase a greater portion of equality. Health care is not a lifeboat reserved for first class fares, the lifeboat belongs equally to every man, regardless of the fare paid. If life is a self evident and unalienable right then certainly, that which is necessary to sustain it, must be self evident and unalienable. That it is a privilege, is only defined as privilege, by those that are privileged. It is not my contention that health care be given freely to every man; it is my contention that just like water, it be affordable to every man. That like water, it is a self evident and unalienable right. That without it, when the bell tolls, ask not who it is for; it is for us.


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    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from oregon

      I jaye, I thought I answered this but, its still here. Healthcare is a absurdity in this country and the problems run through the greedy profession, greedy insurance companies and the rest of the system. Don't know what the answer is but sooner or later, it will inherently demand attention. Thanks for reading, as always, alan

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from oregon

      What a lovely comment lovemychris. Thanks so much.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from oregon

      Thanks for reading and for the comment, peoplepower73. It is appreciated.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from oregon

      The whole healthcare issue strikes a chord in me. I can't imagine a broken system that nobody wants to fix. Thanks for reading.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      7 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Alan....Don't know how I missed this one earlier, but I'm so glad I read it now. What an eloquent essay about human rights! I do not understand how politicians (and ordinary citizens) in the U.S. can justify not wanting to extend the basic right of healthcare to all.

      I'm thoroughly disgusted with the Congressmen from my state (Mississippi) and their stance about the healthcare law (and any legislation meant to do something for anyone other than the most affluent and the conglomerates that fill their campaign chests with money.) There is very little compassion in the halls of Congress these days. I'm just thankful Justice Roberts didn't stick to his party's line for the recent Supreme Court ruling. Surprised...yes, but thankful nonetheless.


    • lovemychris profile image

      Leslie McCowen 

      7 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      Beautifully are the kind of American I grew up knowing, and looking up to. I'm glad there are still some of you around!

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 

      7 years ago from Placentia California

      One time, not so long ago, a man said: ""Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." Great hub, voting up, useful, and sharing.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      7 years ago from Taos, NM

      Oh my goodness! This is so eloquently said. I agree with you wholeheartedly. We have a responsiblility as a nation to be a part of the whole - to care about one another compassionately and to offer a program of health insurance to EVERYONE, not just the privileged few. I have not seen this idea so eloquenty spoken as your article. Please email this to your representatives in congress and to President Obama. They all need to read this! Well done and well said. Voted up!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      Alan, I couldn't agree more. What a compassionate man you are! And this, my friend, should be read by everyone--so I will pass this on--Bless you!

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from oregon

      hello kathleen, thank you for you kind encouragement. I have found an adequate following on hub pages, but even more, a field to plant my flowers, a stream to drink from and rest when I simply choose to read. Thanks again.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      arb: Few of us enjoy a great deal of readership. Like you, I treasure the sincere comments I receive more than huge followings, which I realize I may never receive. Keep up the good work.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from oregon

      freeway flyer, thanks for your visit and for your thoughts. I agree and will take time to check out you links. Thanks

    • Freeway Flyer profile image

      Paul Swendson 

      7 years ago

      Too often, Americans confuse the notion of "defending individual rights" with "defending selfishness." If a person is truly patriotic, then it seems that he or she would want his or her fellow Americans to have access to something so basic to life. This is why other industrialized nations have not left health care to the whims of the market.

      And when people really think about it, they do not support the notion of leaving a person bleeding to death outside the emergency room door if that person is unable to pay. So if we agree that access to health care is a right, we should figure out a way to make the system more cost efficient and humane than it is now. Here are some more thoughts:

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from oregon

      Hello phdast7. It would be difficult to express my appreciation for the comment, which, now decorates this work. It remains a favorite, but, received little read. That someone, somewhere, not only read it, but as they say, "got it" moves me to unexpected gladness. Your reviews of my writing are held in emerging esteem. Thank you!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      A sweeping, magisterial, compassionate explanation of what our Declaration of Independence promised and how we today should fulfill those promises, not as privileged and self-interested individuals, but as concerned and other-interested citizens choosing to support one another for the common good of society.

      This is a moving and correct interpretation of the nobility of the spirit that our founding documents will lead us to, if we let them. I have decided to make your essay required reading for my upper level college history students. SHARING

    • profile image

      Lone Ranger 

      7 years ago

      Well said, Alan, and I agree with everything you wrote.

      In fact, I believe that universal healthcare should be a part of the Department of Defense, who should specialize, not in making war and weapons, but defending our nation against diseases, drugs, death, famine, pestilence, poverty, abortion and a host of other life threatening conditions that presently exist in this great nation.

      Americans pay enough in taxes already to afford universal healthcare for every man, woman and child. The problem is that this money is alloted to nonsensical programs and wasted on unnecessary expenditures.

      Truth is that the U.S.A. can grow enough food to feed the entire world and provide quality healthcare to all its citizens regardless of social status. But alas, it seems that altruism is in short supply on Capitol Hill and as long as wealthy families and corporations run this country - bilking the public for profit will take precedence over providing basic priviledges that are in the public's best interest.

      Best wishes to you and yours - L.R.


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