4.9
February 29, 2020

Make America “Care” Again.

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.

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“The Medicare For All plan proposed by Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars each year and would prevent tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths, a new study shows.” ~ Newsweek, Feb 18, 2020. “Medicare For All Would Save $450 Billion Annually While Preventing 68,000 Deaths, New Study Shows” 

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Despite the “polarizing” headline, I must say I am not here to tell you who you should be voting for this upcoming election.

So don’t expect this to be an article about who I think is the best candidate. I’m not here to tell you to accept new ideas you may find terrifying, either. I’m not even trying to convince you that “Medicare for All” is the best bill a United States senator from Vermont wrote.

I’m simply asking you to care.

I once read that although we tend to vote for our and our family’s best interests, we should also vote for those whose interests are oppressed. That would include, of course, the minorities who are not actually “minorities” anymore. How could we care enough about them and still not forget about ourselves? How could we understand that it’s not them versus us, but that we are one?

During last week’s heated Democratic debate on NBC News, I was curious to see all the candidates’ points of view on Medicare for All. Most importantly, I was curious to know if anything had shifted because I do like some of them who seem a bit reluctant about it.

Then, I saw democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg say that Sanders’ ideas were “polarizing.” I gulped. What was he calling “polarizing” anyway? We know that the Vermont U.S. Senator’s main campaign hit speaks loud and clear and it’s all over the news: Medicare for All. I wish I could have personally asked Pete if he thinks that every child, every human being in this country getting coverage is “polarizing.” I was really hurt by his comment. I like the guy, but right then, right there, he had shown me he is nothing but the establishment’s sweetheart. Mostly because I truly believe that his idea, “Medicare for all those who want it,” however he calls it, is a bit unrealistic too because it doesn’t tackle the abusive charges of health insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

It is indeed pretty easy to consider the idea of universal healthcare “polarizing” when you are in perfect health and just fear to pay more taxes. It’s easy to reject the idea
when you have nice government insurance (or any kind of good insurance) or when your kids don’t have diabetes and you don’t have to worry about insulin rationing. It’s easy when you don’t have to work multiple jobs to pay for your past medical bills and end up not spending time with your family so they have a roof above their heads.

It’s hard to care about Medicare for All when you have nothing to gain but worry about what it can take away from you.

I’m not here to weigh in the benefits of universal coverage for everyone, such as getting rid of premiums, monthly payments, etc., versus keeping your super amazing health plan that Buttigieg seems to be so much in favor of.

I’m simply here to ask you to care about Medicare for All. Not in the way that you’ll blindly accept that it is a good plan. I was a critic of Obamacare myself, so I also have my concerns. But I understood that it had to start somewhere. And maybe you should too.

I simply invite you to have an open-minded conversation that needs to happen. Just like two parents sitting their kid down to discuss their divorce, this may be a conversation that may make you want to stand up and leave. We need to discuss the fact that people are dying because they are afraid of seeing a doctor. We need to talk about people who avoid seeking medical attention for some random pain and hope for the best simply because they are afraid of the bill. We need to discuss the fact that working families are going bankrupt over diseases that require long-term treatment and tons of money.

We need you to imagine that you are one of these people. Even if it’s for just a few seconds.

We need to sit down and discuss the best solutions for our people as a whole. And no, we’re not going to talk about your wallet only. We need to have a conversation about how to “care” about free healthcare for everyone.

I recently saw someone commenting that people who support Medicare for All just want a free government ride. That angered me to the core. Mostly because I’d been in a position of needing help although I worked multiple jobs. That “privileged” person might not have a sick family member and may also be in great health, I hope. But mostly, that person forgot how to “care.”

What have we become? How could we have lost our sense of compassion and care for our neighbors out there? And especially some of us, how could we consider ourselves Christians and have forgotten to “care” when the man from Jerusalem was the embodiment of compassion and selflessness?

I am not looking to accuse you of not caring enough just because you may not agree with Medicare for All. I’m here mostly to remind you of who you really are. Deep inside, we all do care. But unfortunately, a lot of us only want the best for everyone as long as it won’t affect us.

What we need to do is let go of our version of “self” when we have this conversation. Most of our political and social views are about us; we vote for those who help us—teachers, farmers, small businesses, healthcare workers. But we also must consider that we may have to vote for the collective well-being of everyone in this country.

We need to make America CARE again.

I have a few friends I admire more than anything in the world. Some are well-off, others not so much, but I love to hear them say that they don’t mind paying more in taxes so that everyone can have the same opportunities. They always make me think, “Why can’t everyone be like this person? Humanity wouldn’t be lost.”

But in fact, we are a bit lost. We have made a basic conversation on human rights “polarizing.” We have decided that your kid needing insulin while you work three jobs is not our business. We have chosen to neglect you when yes, it should be our business.

So, I really urge you to start by taking baby steps. Even if you can’t grasp the concept of universal healthcare yet. Start by doing some loving-kindness meditation. Google it, it’s a simple and loving practice that everyone can do. Start by offering loving-kindness to yourself and your family. Wish them the best, send out love and light. Then really, try to do the same in a collective way, sending out peace and health to all beings on the planet. That will connect you to every living soul. That will teach you how to go beyond your existence.

That may not change your mind about politics and social changes, and that’s okay. But that will open your heart a bit at least. Every time you see someone talking about free healthcare, you’ll be able to at least have an open mind about it. You’ll probably think, “While I still don’t agree with this idea, I believe it can be very good for this person.”

And that’s the beginning of “care.”

I truly want to believe that in our core, we all care. I just hope we care enough to listen to new ideas that seem “polarizing” without judgment. We can also try to listen to conservative points without being so reactive. Some conservative ideas are not so bad, although I’ve always thought they carry a lot of fear. And I try to be compassionate about people who feel that way, I swear I do.

We’ve all been a bit progressive and bit conservative at some point, so at least we can try to find some common ground in that. But at the end of the day, we can only move forward, not backward.

And we can only move forward when we learn how to “care.”

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Bonus:

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