Look at the gift I have just been given. Well, maybe don't look if you get icked out by such things. On the other hand, if you enjoy looking at such things, click to enlarge by all means! It's a little blurry, though. It's hard to take pictures of the back of your own head even under the most ordinary circumstances.
Isn't it beautiful? It's one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever been given. Actually, it's a lot of gifts, from a lot of people, and it's going to take me quite some time to list them all out for you. It may take me years. For today, though, in case the beauty is not immediately obvious to you, let me just begin to explain.
One week ago today, I was given free brain surgery with all the trimmings by a genuinely world-class team of kind and compassionate -- and highly specialized -- neurosurgical experts, courtesy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I had come to the emergency room the week before that highly altered and with a two-month-old headache that just wouldn't quit. Turns out I had a brain tumor the size of a golf ball.
Miraculous. I just showed up needing this insane amount of quite expensive, complicated help, and you gave it to me, freely and graciously, with exactly the same level of service and compassion I would have gotten had I been the child of a foreign potentate brought in on a private jet. (And I know this for a fact because I have worked in local hospitals and personally served children of foreign potentates. None received better care or more deference than I have enjoyed in the last three weeks.)
So. Thank you, Massachusetts. Thanks to you and your subsidized health care for the impecunious within our borders, I can read and write today. This is especially impressive when you realize that I could do neither one a little over two weeks ago.
Like most people, I have done nothing particular to deserve your help. Like most people, I have also done nothing to deserve a brain tumor. This stuff just happens to people, all kinds of people, all the time.
Like many people, I could never afford insurance to cover it. Never. Even with the best private insurance I ever had, the amounts not covered would have devastated me financially. And the confusing paperwork and conflicting stories from the insurance company, plus the collection calls from all the service providers' automatically-summoned-after-X-number-of-days bill collectors would have started within weeks of my surgery. Even with every responsible measure of a responsible person in place to mitigate the fallout in just such an event, this is how it usually goes for many many people, maybe even most in this country, when something this big just happens to them through no fault of their own.
Many of us have long been arguing that helping each other is exactly what our collective resources as humans are for. Helping each other. Not killing each other or trying to quantify each other's monetary value. Thank you so much, Massachusetts, for being part of this country that agrees.
So how 'bout it, rest of America?
So I'll bet you didn't realize this, but the whole argument about socialized medicine? It boils down to love. Do you love America? Great. Now do you love what America is made of, Americans? Do you really? Well, how much?
Do we love this country and each other enough to figure out a way for every single person in America to have what has just been given to me? Or are we too busy judging and measuring and lying to each other about what things really cost to make this kind of possibility a reality for every single person?
Every single person deserves this level of help and service. Every single one. I only got it because of luck, finding the bad thing at the right time in the right place with an amazing surgeon and his team just happening to be available to me right at this moment, strictly the luck of the draw.
Oh, and because I live in Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, we are often rude and cold in demeanor, careless of the environment, and even atrocious drivers. You know what else we do, though? Bottom line, we love one another enough individually and conceptually to put our money where our politics, philosophies, and religions are and really take care of each other, or at least to try. Yes, if you live somewhere else in the country, it is very likely that we pay higher taxes than you. Nobody likes paying taxes. But nobody here likes people to die of treatable and preventable medical conditions.*
As one who's been on the receiving end in such a big way this time, I cannot express my gratitude. Thank you so much, Massachusetts, for the amazing, beautiful gift.
I love you, too.
* I don't pay taxes myself right now, personally, because I don't make enough money at the moment, but I have, too, for many many years, and barring catastrophe will again -- because I'm probably going to live. Because my fellow citizens of the Commonwealth paid for it. Even without the love, can you see purely economically how much better this works than just telling people to "sink or swim," "you get what you earn," and "those are the breaks"? Do you see? Even if you can't feel the love, surely you can see the pragmatism? More healthy citizens = bigger tax base. So simple.
Dare I say it seems like a no-brainer?