Americans live in a society that strives for an ideal democracy. It fosters freedom of speech and freedom of movement. Our society is also quite complex, comprised of people with different cultural, educational, economical, religious, moral, and ultimately philosophical backgrounds.
Now you take all of these differentiations and integrate them together, what do you get? An enormous complexity, known as the United States of America. Any modern society has two major factions; the government and the civil (or civic) society, which from time to time exchange members and/or overlap in their actions. There has been a lot of discussion, thus far, about the role of government in respect to health care. Given that we are not senators, congress people, state legislators, governors, or other high-ranking powerful agents of government, we can consider our discussions a dialogue amongst members of civil society.
But what is clear is that we as individual members of civil society have different value systems, while at once also having a collective value system. So, generally speaking, what is it about our society that allows for access to decent health care to become a privilege and not a right? Is there a pressing need to reevaluate our collective value system? Every man and woman for himself or herself, is that concept at the center of our value system? But we seem to value patriotism. Is patriotism same as militarism or is it about loving one’s nation deeply enough to sacrifice for it when needed. Why do we say yes to the idea of decent health care for all, but collectively are reluctant to pay for it by way of taxes and personal sacrifice—when needed.
Why don’t we teach bioethics to our kids at K-12? We seem to value greatly our national security, but isn’t excellent health care for all of our citizens part of that security? Our civil society seems to distrust our government(s) to the extent that we display hopelessness towards any meaningful change. Do we fail ourselves as a result of collective poor ethics? Or are we just a work in progress as a nation and must learn from failures in order to succeed. FDR’s new deal put an end to the gilded age era, and we were on a decent path–concerning bioethics. But since the return of the gilded age some thirty years ago, we seem to be on the wrong path. Or are we just reaching a learning curve, which results in collective punishment of a large part of our citizenry, but will soon teach us ways in which to achieve our goal of excellent health care for all.
In the final analysis, bioethics matters, and it matters a great deal. A human life is not a commodity and ought not to be treated as such. Humanity matters, and it matters a great deal. A sick citizenry victimized by poor bioethics ought to be everybody’s problem and not just the uninsured or underinsured. After all we are all in this thing together, regardless of race, class, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Aren’t we?