Turning hatred into health through cooperative effort

Health-care debate sparks ire, but better effort to work together will bring wellness

Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Depth psychology has for years taught us that hatred is unhealthy. Uncontrolled actions sparked by rage can be immediately lethal. Smoldering resentments and jealousies leave lasting harm over generations.

Scholarly books and professional journals abound with evidence of permanent damage from child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence. Permanent harm to humans is writ on a much larger tablet when clans, tribes, nations and political parties prefer hatred and winning over problem solving. The spillover from shooting and political wars spreads infections, pollution and emotionally damaging epidemics.

Public health statistics literally shout out the malignant spread of "Spanish flu" influenza by World War I. Hatred is not healthy. Neither is the current level of power struggling for political gain over the sad state of our U.S. health care system.

While the growing gap between the few very rich and the many poor, as well as unequal allocation of health care resources, are the root causes that make tens of millions of Americans suffer the trauma of no health insurance, we have yet to muster enough political will to ease this moral blight. It is clear, as some physicians experienced with European systems point out, our U.S. tax burden for military supremacy leaves too little to afford fair health care allocation.

After a year of very hard work, some across party lines, there is more political will to improve health-care access than ever. Yet, fear and thinly veiled hatred produced hardened and intransigent party lines as various solutions were being offered. Political, economic and even racial divisions in the United States reflect an ongoing emotional and verbal civil war.

Our post Civil War grudges abound over unresolved preferences about states' rights, women's rights and agrarian, people-centered versus capitalistic economic control. When other nations began building public funded health care systems, our leaders chose to have business enterprise shoulder that burden. Today, the "Medical Industrial Complex" is alive and well while tens of millions of citizens are not. This congressional political decision in the 1950s left many out.

Political assassinations in the 1960s prompted sobering value changes briefly. Thus meaningful civil- rights legislation and a start of our national health care system - named Medicare and Medicaid - were born. Despite ongoing fears of insolvency, millions of senior citizens and needy pregnant women and their children benefit. An ironic twist, which promotes fear to advance Senate Republican intransigence, in our health-care reform debate has led Republican leaders to criticize the Senate bill for decreasing senior citizen access to Medicare. More important and even a little hopeful, now Republican leaders are on record in support of health-care access system reform to reduce costs and assure at least a little more access.

There is now time and opportunity for citizens and political leaders to measure the impacts of the stalemate, move forward and work together - across party lines - to pass health-care legislation that can be made workable and challenge all established interests to come to the table.

As we focus and work hard to set aside our fears and jealousies, all of us can listen to other parties and begin to recognize, that we do indeed, have more than enough national resources to both reduce costs and improve access. In this process of agreeing to disagree with respect, reaching compromises that must require each and every one of us all to make some sacrifices, and suffer some pain in these changes; we will be turning hatred into health.

Evolutionary theorists continue to unearth scientific evidence that "neighborly cooperation" is at least equal, if not more powerful, to our widely accepted notions of "survival of the fittest."

• George W. Brown lives in Douglas.

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