When I started this blog, I dedicated a moment to the thought of what to do with it. Promote my books, sure. Promote other writers’ work, of course. Ramble about silly nonsense, most certainly. Support campaigns and stuff? Uh-oh. With great power comes great responsibility, they say. Or at least someone told Spiderman. Whatever. Me and my miniature blog, we have miniature power. Does that mean miniature responsibility? Does the fact that I have an audience of just a handful of people mean I’m entitled to forgoe pulling my little weight? Or does the fact that I write fantasy excuse me from dealing with reality? I don’t know. When I think about politics, it’s usually about my own made-up system. When I need faith, I invent one. Either way, I decided to keep my blog politics-free.
A while ago, I got interviewed by another writer. Only afterwards did I realize that said writer did a lot of opinionizing on her blog. Politics, religion, you name it, she’s got an opinion, and a very strong one at that.
Now my name shows up on a website the content of which I heartily disagree with. And that galls me. I sometimes find it hard to separate the person from the opinion and simply like someone despite the crap they spew forth, and I suppose I’m not the only one. And I really don’t want to be associated with gun-toting, ultra-Christian, racist Republicans. Hence a little foray into the realms of what I wanted to avoid.
I hereby wish to out myself as left of the aisle, and green. And I don’t care much about religion whatsoever. Now, let’s pick something random and talk about it…how about free healthcare?
Ever since I started playing around pretending to be a writer (yes, I still sort of feel like that about the whole endeavor), I met quite a few Americans. And just as a cat’s not a dog, American and European mindsets seem to sometimes run along very different lines. For instance, there seems to be a common misconception regarding social justice vs. socialism. They may stem from the same Latin word – sociare, which means ‘to combine’ or ‘to share’ – but they are still two different things.
I grew up in a tiny, oddly shaped country in Central Europe. Socialism was something I learned about very early. Not because it happened in my country, but because it was a constant presence in the news, and in the neighborhood. The Iron Curtain was next door. I heard about censorship, oppression, all the evil associated with socialism or communism.
Free healthcare isn’t about any of that. It’s about fairness, equality, frankly speaking about survival. I regularly get to see someone’s horrible hospital bill on facebook, and I always think, how the hell can anyone lead a relaxed life, when one injury, one surgery, can throw you into piles of debt and other deep shit? Months ago, my little boy ran a fever, complete with back aches that made him scream in pain. Our pediatrist had his day off, so we went to the hospital. They made him stay over night, ran all kinds of tests until they were satisfied it was nothing but a virus. I spent the night with him on a stretcher next to his bed. We both got an excellent breakfast and, well, the usual hospital lunch. A bill never arrived. Health insurance covered everything.
And this is what I don’t understand. If I report this little episode to some of my American acquaintances, the answer will be, “Well, if you think that works for you, that’s fine, but it wouldn’t work for me.” Why ever not? Because you’d have to pay a fixed amount without knowing whether you’ll ever reap the benefits of those payments? Well, that’s how an insurance works. Because your money might be used to treat someone else, who maybe pays lower monthly contributions? Well, that only means you can count yourself lucky, as you’re not the poorest of the poor.
That’s social thinking, buttercup. Social justice. Nothing to do with socialism whatsoever. Nobody’s being censored or oppressed here. It’s just a bit of good ole redistribution of wealth, and a bit of caring for each other and looking beyond the rim of one’s own plate. Besides, if the poor don’t have to worry about hospital bills, they can use their money to buy stuff and boost the economy. Or that’s what my little logic tells me.
I’m not trying to start a discussion here, or antagonize anyone (On the other hand, if you feel apalled by the thought of social justice, feel free to consider yourself antagonized). I merely believe, in my small, naive mind, that the world could be a better place if we occasionally looked out for one another.