Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
It really does not get much simpler than this, does it? This is it. The basic of the basic, the one article that has the most in common with the defining statement of our own country’s founding (for my fellow ‘mericans.) TJ had it right, these truths are self-evident. No one should ever have to worry unduly for their life or suffer extraordinary burdens to their freedom to do what they please, so long as it does not infringe on another’s rights. No one should ever have to worry about being hurt by another human being. No brainer, right?
Yet we live in a world where health care, the most basic need to ensure the first and last rights in this article, is not considered a right, at least not in the US and much of the underdeveloped world. Here in my homeland, the land that proudly and accurately boasts being the inspiration for this article (I mean, sure, Locke said it first, but TJ made it famous) medicine is a commodity to be traded and if you cannot afford it tough luck. What is even more troubling is two-thirds of the rest of the world has it worse.
This makes liberty that much harder too. How free are you when you are beholden to an employer for fear of losing what health coverage you have. How free are you when you can lose everything you have worked for after a heart attack. What is really sad is some of the most blindly patriotic in this country, those who can recite the opening words of the Declaration of Independence reflexively, believe this is as it should be. Apparently the absolute liberty of the wealthy trumps the life and personal security of everyone else.
I don’t mean to paint such a bleak picture of America, really. There are places much worse than us, but how are we supposed to lead them by example when we don’t live up to our own high ideas? How are they going to take us seriously when such a large percentage of our citizens lives in fear of illness? Why should respect the liberty of their people when our authorities engage in violent suppression of protest? We have not achieved Article 3 even inside our own borders, so it is no surprise when others follow suit.
It is not hopeless, however. The forge of change is busy. While our closest cousins the other side of the Atlantic actually talk about cutting back on their universal health care the dialogue has really begun here. Sure there are still a large number of reactionaries that scream “socialism” when ever single payer health care is brought up, but more and more people are yelling back “so what?” Yes the Occupy movement has been met with police brutality, but it is increasingly common that even those that disagree with them challenge that brutality. We’ve a long way yet to go, but I know longer find it so hard to see the destination on the horizon.