by Patrick Devlin

When I stumbled into the piercing daylight of an early September afternoon on the blasted plains of the Midwest, spun through the automated revolving door of a privately run Lutheran hospital, I landed back in America, the only industrialized country that does not consider health care to be a human right, where handcuffing health care to employment is the law and massive unemployment is the norm.

I was held as a patient for 5 days. I am a worker with health insurance, my brother is a worker (who works harder than me) who does not have insurance. If my brother would have eaten the subway tuna sandwich that I ate he would have either died (from not seeking medical attention) or have to file bankruptcy after seeking medical attention.

While I was sick I was tended to by Izabella, Amy, Amanda, Rey, I, Michael, Joanna, Yoni, Donna, Niki and a host of other humans. These little big people gave me my health and restored my faith in humans (humans who want/need/have to help other humans). So strange that this obvious notion has been lost or commoditized and industrialized in the US.

I was reminded by this of when, as a recent college graduate, I traveled to Europe and North Africa. While in Morocco, I accepted the offer of a family living in the High Atlas Mountains to share a meal – a meal of cheese, bread, butter and tea, the dairy products were not pasteurized. I left Morocco after being ill for a week, huddled and shivering in my bedsit hotel in Marrakesh. When I arrived back in Oxford UK, where my brother and his wife lived, I called a local doctor seeking drugs to make the intestinal parasite go away. I was given an appointment that morning. I was given an exam with blood work-up. I walked out with a prescription having paid 7 pounds 50. I am an American with a passport. I was treated like a human, a sick human, with care, dignity and humanity.

The reason that humans are denied care in our great land is because of greedy Americans and cowardly politicians. Free markets don’t determine that profits have priority over compassion. The notion of free markets, however, does allow the weak and covetous amongst us to pretend that there is something more scientific and practical than behaving with humanity. The fearful and the greedy believe that the poor and sick must live horrible afflicted lives until they expire so as not to create a “moral hazard” (I’m not kidding here) by succumbing to the notion that helping our brethren humans is a requirement.

One of my first experiences back on planet America was riding a packed rush hour subway train. Here the slow, ill, infirm, elderly and pregnant are often left standing while young not-yet-able-to-afford-abandoning-public-transportation workers take a load off, gazing intently at handheld digital devices attempting to convey that politeness is an impolite interruption. I wonder if our job creators and law creators fealty to narcissistic self-promotion, infant-like self-infatuation and naked self-interest has crept into and informed the zeitgeist of America. Or if, at long last, our own self-interest and self-delusion has killed democracy in our country – a land of self-servants incapable of producing public servants.

Time to lend a hand & find our brothers in every man – We’ve always known.
lend a hand by the civilian conservation corps