There is a blog I regularly read because doing so makes me a better person. In it, a mother details with great honesty her emotions and experiences as she and her husband raise a son with serious disabilities and a, thankfully, healthy daughter.
She and I have never met, yet she is afraid of me and my family. Afraid of our support for repealing Obamacare, of our support for President Trump and of our conservative leanings.
I have two children in the medical profession. They talk of their emotions and experiences as they are hindered and frustrated by a bloated, bureaucratic and unsustainable system. They talk of their emotions and experiences as they try to help seriously ill patients and are instead forced to tend to those abusing the system, unnecessarily consuming tens of thousands of dollars and hours of human resources. They talk of their emotions and experiences at caring for patients who act self-destructively, thus counteracting the help they have just been given, after monopolizing resources that, subsequently, were not available for others. My children have never met the woman whose blog I read. They are not afraid of her, but they see her voting patterns and liberal leanings as harmful to them and those for whom they care.
It is not a far-fetched scenario that one of my children might meet this woman’s son in an emergency room or intensive care unit. She and they would unite in doing their best for this boy with skill and compassion, maybe even with prayer. Neither would know the politics of the other and each would be touched by the competency and kindness of the other as maternal love and medical professionalism worked together.
While this woman envisions cruel and greedy conservatives snatching away the social services that allow her family to better function, my family and I envision liberal policies leading to a world where a boy born with the disabilities and need for expensive medical care such as this woman’s son had at birth, being left to die. It is a fact of life that resources are limited and while a child with the name of Trump, Clinton or Obama will get helped, most everyday people’s children won’t.
My family and I worry about men like Peter Singer who as Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University is training the next generation of those who would make decisions in a single-payer health system. He describes himself as a ‘hedonistic utilitarian’ and is a believer in what is euphemistically called ‘abortion after birth’ for those born with severe handicaps. Surely my blog writer recoils from his philosophy. Does she get scared when she reads of the Charlie Gard case in England, where parents’ desires are being overruled by impersonal pencil-pushers? Yet, she is afraid of the votes of many of those who believe that human life is sacred.
Politics is a corrupting profession. There are many Democrats and Republicans in Congress who care more for their own power trips and fortune-building than they do for the citizens they purport to serve. Other politicians are well-meaning, but they quickly get isolated from the real world and live in an unreal bubble as they make choices that affect the very real world of the rest of us. Others who face the sad reality of a largely ignorant populace with a short attention span know that they will not get re-elected for doing what they believe to be the right thing. None, even if they possess a brilliant solution, have the power (unless they use illegal and unethical means) to force their colleagues to go along with their own ideas.
There is no neat and tidy answer to the health-care crisis in this country. There is no magic wand that will provide unlimited dollars and resources to those that need them and make all citizens upright and honest so only those truly in need apply for those dollars and resources. There is no fairy dust that will make every provider of medical help and government bureaucrat responsible and hard-working.
The less capable we are of facing hard facts, the reality of unintended consequences and the wide range of morality and ethics that govern a nation of disparate individuals, the more polarized and less problem-solving we become. We need to recognize that those who think differently than us may well be motivated by the same compassion that motivates us, yet their experiences lead them to see different solutions than we see. I learn so much from the blog posts I read, penned by a woman I have never met, but who I admire. I wish she didn’t see me as the threat to her family’s well-being that I truly am not.