The Radius of Rights

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

March 2, 2010


Categories: Family, The Green Life

MUMBAI, INDIA - NOVEMBER 27:  Members of the m...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I had a Facebook conversation a few months ago where I posted, in a frustrated manner, that I believe fighting over politicians is crap and that we all really have similar values anyway, so why do we participate in the distraction?  A former co-worker came at the discussion from a different point of view, and I don’t think either of us were able to explain our sides, clearly.  So, I thought I’d use this space to try to be clearer.

I’ve written about rights before, and as political theory is and always will be a passion of mine, rights are often on my mind.  Questions like, “Who is entitled to what and why?” are questions societies often have to ask and they often take longer to answer.  Rights and entitlements lend to our beliefs, and more what we value. Rights and entitlements showcase our values. And likewise, what we don’t view as a right also describes our values.  If, someone, for example believes in the right to bear arms – that doesn’t necessarily mean they want the right to kill others but rather they want the right to defend themselves.

So, what does it say about a society when they claim one thing as a right over another, and what should societies claim as rights?  Well, I can’t accurately answer the latter – but I will describe my beliefs in what I think a society has a responsibility to do and how far that reaches.

The Facebook conversation started, as stated above, because I posted an update that I think politicians only want to “Wag the Dog.” For whatever reason, I think many politicians go into their representative roles with ideas of changing the world but somewhere along they way the get caught up in, well, the politics of the battle.  Suddenly, it’s less about what they value or the thing that spurred their interest and maybe more about pandering to constituents – whether the constituent be an Average Joe or a Big Corporation.  Special Interests, the factions Madison decried, get in the way. What would happen if those interests were stripped away to a conversation about what people value?

I, for example, value health and well-being in fairly high regard.  I desire for my friends and family that they have shelter if they want it, access to doctors, access to safe and nutritious food.  I don’t necessarily believe that the safe and nutritious food should have to be an exotic fruit or animal but be able to provide for basic nutrition in how we define it in the present.  I believe our shelter should be without pests, well insulated, and generally provide for a safe environment where young and old minds can grow.  This shelter needn’t be something akin to the Taj Mahal, but it must foster health.

This current healthcare debate (or lack thereof) is frustrating because we’re getting caught up in the “who’s going to pay for it” when we haven’t discussed what people want.  I’ve made it clear in previous blog posts that I have a thyroid disease.  This disease developed while I was pregnant with my first son, robbed my breast milk of essential proteins, and possibly contributed do my son’s drop in weight (from 90% to 3% in a matter of weeks) and “failure to thrive” for a short time.  Luckily, my husband was able to get a good government job where benefits kicked in within 30 days.  We were able to switch from the government plan my son was on to a pediatrician, and I was able to get care for the disease until then I didn’t know I had.

New mothers (parents) want the best for their children. Not having access to healthcare makes people feel impotent, helpless. Getting caught up in these games that our politicians are so fond of doing only serves to distract – it does nothing to ensure we are getting care so that we have a chance at “pursuit of happiness”.  In my radius of rights, I’m not asking to go to a boutique clinic where there are no waits – but I am asking to see a competent doctor for me and for my family.  When we choose not to make healthcare a priority for our American Society, we are showing that we don’t value the health of all of our citizens.  And, if the definition of a team’s strength is that of its weakest link – then we are a weak society and we need to be made stronger.

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