Although I would prefer that a two-ton potato not fall on my head, I’m grateful to be reasonably unattached to whether I’m alive or not. It makes it easier to decline to participate in our nation’s wacky and profoundly harmful approach to health care.
It is my intention never to agree to pay out-of-pocket for any essential medical service. If that means I’m refused care, so be it. Maybe I’ll change my mind if I’m in excruciating pain, and if I do, I’ll learn something about myself. But it won’t alter my commitment to resist a way of thinking about so-called human health that is at odds with human dignity. I’m speaking of the view that medical treatment is not a right but a privilege, and that it’s okay for someone to become financially devastated because of his or her health. As George Carlin said about America, we’re a great country but a strange culture.
When a man attempted to strangle Gandhi, the story goes, Gandhi didn’t fight the hands around his throat and instead looked at the man with love. (This freaked the guy out and he ran away.) I’m not sure I could pull that off, even though my life’s purpose has zero to do with whether I live another ten seconds or rival Methuselah’s birthday record of 969. My only agenda is growing my capacity to love. Like everybody, I stagger on.
Maybe that’s why my heart seems to be guiding me down this path: it scares me, and moving through fear is good for the soul.
The universe recently introduced me to a documentary about Joan Baez. I hadn’t realized that, in the early 1960’s in the south, during some of the most vicious attacks on civil rights advocates, Joan Baez was a conspicuous, white presence in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s non-violent protests. Indeed, over the years, her voice in the face of social insanity has placed her in a number of dangerous situations. When asked why she took such risks, she said, “If you’re committed to singing meaningful songs, you have to be committed to lead a life that backs that up.”