November 26, 2011

Trifecta Challenge: To Betray

This is my entry in response to the challenge at Trifecta, for the word, Betray, according to the third definition provided by Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary.

3: to fail or desert especially in time of need

Today an American friend and I are having a Facebook discussion about a socialised medical health system -- to ensure basic health to all citizens of a society. As shocking as it is for me to imagine living in a modern democratic country that doesn't provide basic medical care for its citizenry, it appears even more baffling to my friend:

“The right-wing propaganda machine has done a good job of painting disaster if the government takes over health care. Of course, they don't talk about what private for-profit health care does to people. The most frustrating part is those who firmly believe that a fair, government-administrated healthcare system with access for everyone is some commie plot that will bring them down and give them poor medicine. They have been thoroughly propagandized into working against their own interests.”

She goes further: “I also suspect people never see themselves in the picture ... as needy or the underdog. They don't see that while they may identify with the privileged, they are in fact the serfs to the privileged.”

It got me to thinking about how fiercely so many people in both Canada and the United States are defending the right to make money over all other rights, even if that particular right protects the people stripping everyone else of basic human rights: shelter, potable water, nourishment and a decent education. I know these members of our societies have accepted the right of the (rare) individual to unbridled wealth over all other rights because a majority continue to cast their votes in this direction.

I believe such people betray their own children by voting into power those who protect only the wealthiest and most powerful of the country.

This conversation has led me to consider history and better understand the blindness of those Germans in the rise of the Nazi regime who, rather than protect their friends and neighbours from madness, looked the other way and slipped into accepting an unthinkable aberration as status quo.


  1. That identification with the privileged comes from a place of hope, I think. The American dream is supposed to be attainable for ALL of us and, although that's far from the truth, we all hang onto that idea.

    The Nazi comparison is kind of intense and, while I can see the link between the lack of knowledge of those 'serfs' unwittingly voting to maintain the status quo and those Germans who didn't question any of the crazy shit going down, I have to admit I'm struggling internally not to refute the allegation harshly.

    You got me thinking, as always.

  2. I know this was really risky to publish. That said, I am very much concerned about the changes I see in my own community (Vancouver) and the inability to discuss the basics -- like food for hungry children and housing for people who have none -- with those around me.

    I agree with you that hope may well be at the basis in the States for identification as a privileged people (even when not), but at what point do people realise that even the basics are too far out of reach for their countryfolk, community members and neighbours, never mind luxury?

    If my post sounds like I am suggesting that the majority of our citizenry are that population of Germans who didn't try to stop Hitler in one way or another, then I suppose it needs much more work. Indeed in Germany as in Canada and the United States, there exist many, many people who did and are working furiously toward finding a balance between the rights of the individual and the requisite cornerstones for basic human rights of each and every individual within our societies. It is those who are still backing those who choose the individual over the health of our societies at large that today reminded me of the people who didn't question the changes in Germany until it was too late.

    I worry so much that it is becoming too late, and in this country anyway, I hear rumblings from certain corners that suggest we will experience something akin to an internal war if we don't respond to the basic needs of our people.

    But then, I am a worrier, and some say I think too much. So ... oh GAW, did I just dig an even deeper hole?

  3. Thinking about this some more. I think maybe it is the people that don't DO anything, as opposed to those who do. They don't worry about stuff, just live with the status quo. IF they vote, they probably don't know who they are voting for or, really, why. These are the people who wreak more havoc in "democracy" than anyone else.

    The symmetry for me, from Nazi Germany to North America, is that we are losing our humanity by not providing a health care system that accommodates citizens, whether they are capable of caring for themselves financially or not. I'm not talking plastic surgery for vanity's sake, I'm talking about medicines that work, cognitive therapy for those who would become more contributory if they had better life skills, and access to basic medical and dental care for all.

    We are losing this, piece by piece in Canada, with the introduction of private/for profit clinics alongside of the current public system. Our dismantling is well underway.

  4. Thank you for participating in Week Two of Trifecta. Your post is much different from the other responses we got and is quite a thought-provoking read. Since I'm representing Trifecta and not my own personal views, I'll abstain from commenting too much under this name. I'll just say that I'm thankful that you've given us an argument to think about. I think that good discussion is one of the earliest steps towards change. Even if I don't agree with a certain political idea, I always find myself invigorated after the discourse.

    I hope we'll see you back again for Week Three.

  5. The Nazi comparison works in the sense that you had citizens of a perfectly advanced first-world nation who were propagandized into seeing themselves as different form the targeted groups, and who were therefore able to be manipulated into ignoring what is so clear to us in hindsight. I think it was Goebbels, the great Nazi propaganda master who said, "If you say it often enough, even if it's not true, people will believe it." So if you tell people over and over that socialized medicine will harm them, and that it produces horrific results in other countries, people do believe it, no matter how ludicrous it is. You see it with Islam, you see it with the Occupy movement, you see it with women's rights. Beat the drum and chant the chant enough, and you can demonize anything.

    Boy, that American friend is eloquent. ;-)