Yesterday, as Congress passed the health care bill, I sat in Mexico and watched the BBC, ESPN en español, and CNN international all broadcast the votes of our congress in real time. The world was watching…a world that is in fact flabbergasted as to why in the world Americans are so bent out of shape about (not-even) Universal Health Care coverage. In most of the developed world, (and Mexico) the responses seem to be, “well why on earth wouldn’t anybody want that?”

And then the reactions, the backlash, the Anger. So much anger from people who don’t want this bill, who don’t want so many things.

Everyone has a right to their opinion on whether or not this bill will be effective. That should be a healthy point of debate in this country- analyzed by economists and public health experts, I welcome that. I welcome people’s rational concerns about what this legislation means for them and their family.

What has absolutely pained me in the last 24 hours is reading, in the words of people I know and people I don’t, words of hate and disgust for the uninsured, the poor, the recipients of social services. I have read so many words of judgement, hate, loathing, racism and ANGER about these people, including the working poor, who will benefit most from this process. According to the words I’ve read, there are many people who don’t deserve healthcare. They don’t deserve healthcare because they don’t have money to pay for it. And nobody wants to pay for them. 

I have gotten angry myself. I deleted some people from facebook. Wanting to write rants and rebuttals, I forced myself to not fuel the fire more by fighting, and rather try to find a more productive solution. Mostly, I have been reflecting this whole day about why so many feel this way, why they hate their fellow Americans so much when they themselves have been given so many freedoms, privledges and wealth by being born at the right time, the right place, having the right education. And yes, worked hard too, I have no doubt about that, but that work is most often built upon a foundation of priviledges. The same foundation I have been lucky enough to have.

And then I realized that sadly, there have been other times when this country was divided over who was worthy to recieve rights. When African Americans were considered subhuman, when women were seen as unworthy to vote, and this is another of those challenges to overcome. Because it comes down to whether health care is a basic human right, and whether all people are seen of receiving that right. Sure, it’s about taxes. But behind those tax complaints is a very clear message…I don’t want to pay to help anyone else. Well maybe I would if they were only worthy. If they weren’t lazy, freeloading, uneducated…if only they worked as hard as me…

 I can only continue to hope, that one day Universal Health Care will be as accepted as a human right as freely as it now is to grant every person regardless of race, gender or creed the right to vote in the United States. So many countries of priviledge have accepted this belief, and have made it a reality.

My suggestion? Do your part. Thank your congressman if they voted for this measure. Goodness knows they probably need to hear some kind words this week! Use positive words to support what has already been done and what you hope to see in the future. Don’t get dragged into the ugliness. Get to know people who have lost their coverage or been denied access to health care under the current system. Learn from them. Encourage them to tell their story. Get the facts. Be the change.