On booze, guns, voting, and healthcare

It is a popular belief that physicians take an oath to “first, do no harm.”  They do not, however, they should.  Not just physicians though — everyone.  Doctors, lawyers, teachers, mechanics, bankers, mayors, governors, congressmen, presidents……  What does it mean to “do no harm”?  Truthfully, I’m not really sure I know what it means, but I can imagine what it might look like.  It would look like people caring for their fellow man beyond platitudes and pity.  I would imagine it would stop lawmakers from making laws that are clearly harmful to any portion of the population.  “But it’s not possible to make everyone happy.”  I know this, but is it possible not to let people die for the sake of capitalism?  There have been numerous Facebook debates this week about whether or not healthcare is a right.  If I’m being honest, I think people get too caught up in semantics.  No, healthcare is not a right spelled out by what is apparently the holiest of all documents ever written, the Constitution of the United States.  

Let me take a moment to say this:  I love the Constitution of the United States of America.  It is a document that has stood the test of time and prevailed.  It is a simple explanation of what the government cannot do.  Yep, you read that correctly.  The constitution is not so much about the rights of the people as it is about the limits set on the federal government by that ubiquitous group of men we lovingly call “the founding fathers.”  The ‘founding fathers’ who, by the way, agreed with each other about as much as the democrats and republicans do today, really struggled to agree on what the government of this new country should look like.  The first seven articles, which comprise the ‘original’ Constitution, do not contain a single right. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. They simply lay out the powers of each branch of government and how each one is to function.

There are actually very few rights outlined in the Constitution besides voting and drinking. Yes, there is a ‘bill of rights’, but they have much more to do with what the government cannot either do to you or stop you from doing.

So, are the only rights we have the ones outlined in the constitution? Where does that leave us? We can drink, vote, shoot guns and tell everyone about how much we love or hate it.  Seems a little lacking to me.

What rights should we be guaranteed as humans? A few come to mind: safety, the right to self-determination, freedom; basically, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which is referred to in the 14th amendment, but again it’s telling the government that they can’t take those away from people “without due cause.”

While the Constitution does not go into detail about basic rights, in 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United States ratified.  In it are 30 articles that are “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”  The three above are part of it, but there is so much more.  Like the right to marry whomever one chooses and the right to own property.  The freedom of thought, conscience and religion.  The right to one’s own opinion. The right not be belong to an association.  And way at the bottom, at number 25 is the “right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services” and the “right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”  

How very refreshing to see that some entity somewhere cares about the well being of earth’s citizens.  Why do we, a “Christian Nation” allegedly “Under God” not care to meet those same standards?  Why do we think that some deserve for their illnesses to be treated while others remain sick?  Why do we think an adequate standard of living is only for the wealthy?  Why do we make health care a privilege?

It’s because we have been taught that God blesses the righteous and sends woes to the unrighteous.  We equate wealth with morality and it is sickening.  To be living in poverty means that you are not blessed by God and therefore not deserving of “handouts.”  You are not a “worthy poor.”  “If you would pray enough, you’d be healed.”  “If you tithed enough, you’d have more money.”  “Follow God and he will provide for all of your needs.”  These words only sound good to those saying them.  I am a Christian.  I believe in God.  I pray and go to church.  I serve my community in His name.  I study the bible.  Hymns are the first songs that come to mind when I need to fill empty space. I am a Christian.  I am also sick.  Before I knew what was wrong, I was in so much pain that I just wanted it gone or me gone, and that is what I prayed.

God didn’t take me to heaven or take the pain away.  No, He answered with a simple pill I take every night before bed.  A pill that costs $87 a piece.  Do the math.  That’s crazy, right!  Do you want to know what is even more crazy? In any other country it cost about $1. It is so much more expensive here because America not only worships the Constitution, but we worship capitalism as well.  The ability for the government to negotiate with drug companies has been repeatedly voted down because of capitalism.

There is a place for capitalism, healthcare is not it.  The right to live is not something that should ebb and flow with the market.  It should not be reserved for those who can afford it. Health care may not be a right in the United States, but it is a Human Right and should not be withheld just because someone can’t afford it.

On Rights

 

“Healthcare (medical care) is not a right…” I have seen this over and over and over on Facebook and Twitter this week.  There’s even a hashtag.  Well, you all know how I love my word play, so let’s break it all down:

Right:
Noun: A moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something.

Moral:
Adjective: of, relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical.

Ethical:
Adjective: Pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
Synonyms: upright, honest, righteous, virtuous, honorable.

So, even if someone is not legally entitled to something, they could be ethically entitled.

Now, we may not be legally entitled to health care, but how can anyone say that we are not ethically entitled to it?

Would you like to know what we call something that we are not legally or ethically entitled to?
A privilege.

Privilege: A right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of others or a grant to an individual under certain conditions or an advantage granted to a person.

So which is it?
Should medical care be classified as a right or a privilege?

Is it something that should be “enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages (money, status, job, ect.) of others?”

Is it upright, honest, righteous, virtuous, or honorable to tell someone that they don’t deserve medical care for any reason?

Is medical care only for people who are good (wealthy) enough for it?

What makes someone worthy to receive medical care?

These are all questions each and every person who claims that medical care is not a right must answer.  Please look those who are sick and dying in the face and tell them that they are not worthy of life.  Tell them that if they didn’t earn it they shouldn’t have it.  Tell them they should have worked harder and saved more.  Tell them you’re sorry about their situation, but medical care is not a right.  Tell them you’ll put them on the prayer list at church.

The reality is that it is a shame that the United States doesn’t have universal health coverage.  We’re so damned afraid of government involvement that we are only hurting ourselves.  We are so set on capitalist ideals that we’re willing to sacrifice “the least of these” on the altar of the free market.  Medical care should be exempt from the divides of wealth.  The poorest among us should expect the same care as the wealthiest.  Where is the compassion?  Where is Christ in this “Christian Nation”?  When are we going to hold ourselves accountable?

Yes, healthcare is a right; it is the most basic of rights and it’s about time American caught up with the rest of the world and realized that.

 

 

On Technicalities

Yesterday, March 8th, was International Woman’s Day.  For some of you, this is a new holiday, but for the majority of women around the world, this has been their day since the early 1900s.  In many countries, it has the same status as Mother’s Day does here in America.  All day I have seen people complaining about the protest and strikes that have happened today, but what they don’t realize is that this is exactly what is suppose to happen on March 8th.

In 1908, 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City demanding to be treated equally and then in 1910 in Copenhagen, Clara Zetkin proposed that “every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs – and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament – greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result.” It is a day “celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”  I am not making any of this up; this is not “fake news” or “alternative facts”. This day wasn’t created this year to piss off republicans.  It has existed for MORE THAN A CENTURY.

For more than 100 years on March 8th, women have marched, protested and held signs demanding equal treatment.  Please notice that I did not say equal rights because technically, we already have those.  I would also like to point out that technically, African Americans had the right to vote prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and technically, people who use wheelchairs were allowed to enter any building before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  Wait! What? You mean to tell me that Martin Luther King, Jr. marched from Selma to Montgomery for a right he already had? And those people in wheelchairs crawled ALL THE WAY UP THE CAPITOL STEPS to gain access to a building they were already allowed to enter.  That’s crazy.  Why on God’s green earth would they go through this:

They were beaten, attacked, and humiliated for rights they ALREADY HAD.  Why did they do it?  They did it because even though technically those rights existed.  They were just technicalities; so they fought to be treated equally and they achieved it.  The government had to force Americans to stop treating millions of their fellow Americans like they were undeserving of the rights the Constitution gave them; like being black made them ‘less than‘ whites..  Those who fought for equality were beaten, humiliated and killed because whites were so certain that they were in the right.  They used the Bible to justify segregation.  When Dr. King asked for the support of his fellow ministers, no one stepped up; they wanted things to stay the same.

So, what rights to women only technically have?  Well in 13 states, even though rape is illegal, a woman can’t deny her husband sex.  If he forces her against her will, it’s okay because she’s his.  In all 50 states, when a prostitute tries to report a rape, she is often denied because of her job.  On college campuses across the country, young women are being blamed for their own rapes because of what they were drinking or what they were wearing.  What women who protested yesterday or any other day are trying to do is convince the government to force Americans to stop treating them like they are ‘less than‘ men.  I’ve already laid out so much of what women are fighting for  Here if you would like some statistics on rape in the US; read them and then say that women are equal to men.

The point of all of this is to show you that women do still have to fight, not to be given rights, but for their rights to be recognized.  They have a right to say what happens to their bodies.  They have the  right to earn the same as men for the same work.  They have the right for their voices to be heard.  Every year on March 8th, women will continue to fight until we have equal status in society as men because we are not less than them; we can be just as smart, just as strong, and just as capable and we deserve to be treated as such.

On lies, lies, and more lies

When only 4% of what your president says is true and 26% is half or mostly true, it’s hard to trust anything that comes out of his mouth.  This truth vs. lies is not an opinion either and when confronted with the truth he makes excuses; usually it’s someone else’s fault.  Yet people continue to believe what he says; in fact, what he says becomes reality.  He speaks without caring what the truth is because he can.  He then tries to de-legitimize the press so that when he is challenged, his followers will believe him.  Cable news is cable news; it’s partisan.  However, if you discredit CNN, you must discredit Fox as well as they are biased.  You can’t only give credit to the side you agree with.  My problem is with the New York Times. The NYT has been a trusted source since 1851.  What people, including Trump, are confusing are news articles and opinion articles.  When you see something on Facebook from the NYT, 99% of the time, it is an opinion article/blog. This means it is not reporting on the news and isn’t a trusted source.  I still share them; not to report news or claim something as fact, but to say that I agree with their opinion.  An opinion is not, and can never be, “fake news” because IT’S NOT NEWS.  Where was the term when fox news and others were saying that Hillary Clinton worships satan and goes to LA every weekend to worship him and have lesbian orgies (thank you Breitbart). Where was the term when every right-wing media outlet was reporting that President Obama’s birth certificate was fake (thank you Donald Trump).

Now, on Breitbart.  Breitbart is not a news outlet; they are at best a rumor mill and at worst soldiers in the war against equality.  They absolutely hate women over there; for example, headlines include: “Birth Control makes women unattractive and crazy”, “The solution of online ‘Harassment’ is simple: women should log off”,and “Here’s Why There Ought to Be a Cap on Women Studying Science and Maths”.  How are any of these articles okay?  Now, theses are not news, but this is the “outlet” Trump trusts most and believes that they are reporting news and other trusted outlets are “fake news”.

Fake news is when people just make stuff up and report it as fact, which is what often happens when our president and mouthpieces speak (Bowling Green and Sweden anyone?)  I watch all the news networks often so I can hear both sides.  I also happen to be a very good researcher.  I have seen the lies told by the right (again, including Trump) and have seen the evidence that they were lies.  When the president will flat-out lie about things that absolutely do not matter (like whether or not it was raining during his inauguration), he will lie about anything.

Blah, I hate all the things right now that has to do with our government.  Disclaimer here: I am not paid by any super rich Democrat to protest, make calls, write letters, or post on facebook.  I am a member of several groups that organize visits with elected officials, attend protests, and conduct letter writing/call campaigns.  No one is paid, we just want our voice heard as we are the minority in our area.  Please stop insulting those who are working very hard in their very limited spare time to advocate for themselves and the people they love.

It’s time to get back to reality people.

 

On when to draw the line

Facebook has become a place of nightmares.  I rarely enjoy what I see, yet I feel compelled to scroll through and see what horrors have befallen our world in the fifteen seconds since I last refreshed.  Okay, it’s not quite that extreme, but it’s close.  The questions that keep running through my head are like “Is there anything that Donald Trump could do that his supporters would consider not okay?” and  “How much lying and backpedaling are people willing to put up with?”

There seems to be a segment of the population that will support or excuse anything that Donald Trump does.  It started during the election.  His admitted tendency to sexually assault women was excused.  His association with and later appointment of a known white supremacist and anti-semite was not challenged.  His refusal to sever ties with his very expansive business interest is apparently okay. And now his complete ban on travel for “immigrants and non-immigrants” holding passports from seven middle eastern countries and the suspension of  the 42 year old refugee program including indefinitely suspending entry of refugees from Syria (you know, the place where terrorist blow up children’s hospitals) is the new American way.

As a Christian, what has hurt the most is that people are saying all of this is ordained by God because God has anointed the lady part grabbing narcissists as he did Saul and David. Donald Trump is the new Cyrus; the unholy savior of God’s people (to be clear, this only includes Americans).  I detest the way this represents Christians because a group is only judged by its worst; i.e. Muslim=Terrorist.  In truth, all of the hate being spewed (just look on a conservative facebook page or website) is based on fear.  Pure, unadulterated fear.  There are dozens if not hundreds of official petitions to ban Sharia Law.  Guess what! We already have that; it’s called the Constitution of the United States of America. The reason the US Constitution protects us is because of the Establishment Clause; it reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It was later interpreted by Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black as meaning, ” Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.”

Sharia Law is religious law.  Do you want to know what would open up America to Sharia Law in the future?  Supreme Court decisions that favor Christianity.  Yep, if there is a Supreme Court decision that is based strictly on the Christian Bible, then it sets a precedent for future laws based on the Quran.  This is why the separation of Church and State is so freaking important. Continually pushing for a “Christian America” is advocating a Theocracy.  A theocracy is not defined as a “form of government in which a deity is the source from which all authority derives.” Notice that it says a deity, not the Christian God.  Once a Theocracy is established, a new deity could come with each new leader.  I’m not saying that this will happen, just that it could.

Many of the Trump supporters I know are also some of the best, most loving people I know.  I’m experiencing what psychologists call ambivalence.  Ambivalence is defined as “the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.” What they are saying and posting does not match what I know to be true about them and it’s emotionally disturbing. I cannot reconcile the amount of love they show with the amount of hate they are exhibiting. It’s not what I understand as being a Christian.

Thankfully, not all Christians are in agreement.  More than 3,500 religious leaders have signed a letter denouncing the immigration ban as immoral saying that “we are called by our sacred texts and faith traditions to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner.” This letter to Donald Trump and the members of Congress was signed by many of the major Christian denominations including The United Methodist Church, of which I am a member.  I am proud to align myself with a religious organization that stands up for those in need and truly follows the example of Christ.   Some others to speak out are the Episcopal Church, the alliance of Baptists, the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Lutheran Church, and leaders from many other faiths. I am encouraged by the massive call to end the ban and the call to keep the United States open to all faiths.

I celebrate our diversity and hope that we can continue to be a country for all people who seek the same freedoms that our country was truly founded on.

 

On the overwhelming need to commiserate

Gosh guys, what’s happening out there.  This is just how I’m feeling today.  I don’t have anything specific to say or any statistics to back it up; I just feel the need to talk.  To commiserate.  To be honest, I’m scared.  I know. I know. You’re thinking, “Waa waa precious little snowflake is worried about losing her health insurance again.”  Well that’s not it today.  Okay, I’m still terrified of that too, but today, I guess scared isn’t the right word.  I don’t know that I have a word. I have lots of things going on in my very busy brain.

I keep compulsively opening Facebook. (really, I should stop; it’s making it worse.) Anyway, I keep opening facebook and seeing the news.  I have unfollowed about 90% of my friends it seems (I still love you, but I just can’t take the Trump love anymore) so all I have left are a few new friends I’ve met through groups and the news.  Well friends, the news is depressing and terrifying and all sorts of unpleasant things and it is making me just want to retreat to the farm, turn off all of the media producing devices, and watch the lambs hop around.

Unfortunately,  I can’t. I can’t because ignorance about everything happening will not make it go away.  This is not the cat in the box or a tree in the woods; this is life.  My life. Your life. America’s life. It feels like a week ago, everything still felt like a joke.  I could watch that guy on SNL imitating the president elect and it was funny.  It was a “haha are we living in an alternate universe” funny. It was an “is this real life” funny. It was a meme. America was a meme.

On Friday, shit got real.  Shit got real real.  Everyday, shit gets more and more real and it feels like there’s no stopping point. It has only been 5 days, but it feels like months have gone by.  So much has been signed or has been promised to be signed that does nothing but hurt the American people.  Keystone has been signed, DAPL has been signed, an immigration order has been signed, a promise to repeal the ACA has been signed, grants have been striped from vital resources like the Office of Violence Against Women. The public’s access to the government has been restricted. The media’s access to the government has been restricted.  The government’s access to the media has been restricted. See, I can’t even tell if I’m getting it all; I don’t even know everything because it is too much.  It is too hard to keep up with all of the damage to America that is taking place.  It is too hard to count all of the people that these actions are going to hurt.

I see people already saying that Trump has done more in 5 days than President Obama did in 8 years.  The way they are meaning it is pure bullshit, but in a way they are right.  Donald Trump has hurt the American people more in 5 days on purpose than the others presidents did by mistake.  Maybe I’m wrong; my presidential history is sketchy at best. (for some reason I know that the 11th president is James K. Polk).

Anyway, I digress.  I think what is bothering me the most is that people are celebrating their own destruction.  I get it. You hate abortion.  I don’t particularly love it, but  to me, it represents the freedom of choice. Being forced to carry a baby is one step from being forced to abort one.  There I said it.  I am not against abortion.  Condemn me to hell.  Hate me.  Pray for my soul.  Do whatever it is you feel the need to do.  I’m secure in my faith and in my opinion because force is force and if your government can force you to do one thing with your body, they can force you to do another; it is a slippery slope.  Don’t tell me it can’t happen, because there is NOTHING that can’t happen.  Do you think people thought it was possible for someone to kill 6 million people without the world batting an eye?  I bet no one thought that was possible, but Hitler managed to do it.  Given the power, governments can force anything.  I won’t sit back and let it happen without a fight.  I won’t give my government that much power over my body.  I make decisions for my body.

If you haven’t already stopped reading, remember this: there is never just one side to an argument.  You may absolutely think that abortion is wrong and you may be right, but it’s not just about the act of abortion; it’s about telling another person what they can and can’t do with their bodies. It’s about telling a woman with three children and a husband at home that the fetus she is carrying will kill her, but she has no choice but to carry it to term because of an absolute, no exception ban. Does God want her to die?  Is that his plan? Maybe you have the emotional strength to carry a baby for 40 weeks that will live for only a few minutes or even a few hours. Maybe you can survive the crushing disappointment that you feel when God doesn’t answer the most sincere prayer you’ve ever had.  Maybe you can, but just maybe she can’t.  Maybe something like that will break up their marriage; maybe carrying that baby, who has no chance at life,  will get to be too much in month 8 and she takes her life because she thinks it’s the only way.  Was trying to carry a dying baby the right decision for her? Was it worth her life?

I’m not trying to get you to accept that something is okay; you don’t have to change your beliefs.  But neither does she.  Maybe a baby that is aborted has a bright future.  Maybe it has a purpose.  But you know what, it doesn’t know that.  You know who has a definite purpose and a definite future and the cognitive function to know? The woman carrying that baby.  Maybe it is a sin, but is it up to you to pass absolute judgment?  How does it affect you?  Is your life on the line?  Is your future on the line? Will your life change one bit?

You are willing to sit back and not only accept, but celebrate, all of the horrible things that are happening in our government to get a ruling that can’t be enforced.  To get a piece of paper signed that will change nothing in your life.  It may hurt your soul to know that abortions are happening.  It may break your heart.  It may make you sad for humanity, but it won’t kill you.  Someone else’s abortion won’t send you to hell.  Pray about it.  Maybe God won’t make anymore babies that are destined to die before they are even born.  Pray about it.  Maybe God will stop that man before he rapes and impregnates that woman.  Pray about it.  Maybe God will change biology and make only intended pregnancies happen.  Pray away the need for abortion, but don’t tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies and maybe no one will ever tell you what you can or can’t do with yours.