An Ideological Thought for the Day

As a political Independent I am troubled by the growing infusion of religious ideology in American politics at the expense of freedom of choice.

Ours [is] a government that strictly separates ‘Church’ and ‘State’ and for good reason. Our Founding Fathers fought long and hard to preserve RELIGIOUS FREEDOM – the freedom to believe or not believe in a deity as the individual citizen sees fit, without fear of reprisal. But our Founding Fathers clearly made that a personal freedom, not a state right to govern according to religious principles.

Politicians who want to bring their deity onto center state in political discourse are just as misguided as those who wantonly attack others for failing to believe as they do. Both groups need to get off their high horse.

The reality is this: humans behave in accordance with their own intrinsic set of moral imperatives whether we like it or not.

The fact that some lean this way or that, or do this or that, reflects a lack of education in some cases; and perhaps a certain mindlessness of the consequences of their actions. But mostly it reflects the trek a person has taken through life, which is exactly what we are seeing in the health care (and other) choices that people make. We can hate their choices but we have a Constitution that also protects that process of choosing.

The behaviors we see around us reflect where our Society is at any given moment. As with any barameter, you don’t bash the glass in and reset it if you don’t like how it reads; you merely adjust your plans accordingly.

FACT: The medical area is fraught with personal choice options.

Therefore nothing medical should ever have been allowed to become a political football, for that drags polarizing religious imperatives into the public dialogue when such decisions should be left to the individual and his or her physician. This includes life and death decisions as well as birthing decisions, and many other such decisions that even the highest court should not be allowed to overshadow…things like ‘pulling the plug’, medical suicide, effective pain relieving protocols, and the like.

THESE ARE PERSONAL CHOICES, NOT POLITICAL FREE-FOR-ALLS. The fact that you don’t like the way someone chooses does not give you the right to infringe on that process. And visa versa.

Where are all those personal freedoms that this country was built on? Do we all really have to believe in the same, exact thing in order to support one political party or another? Isn’t it possible to have legislation that protects the greater good without doing so at the expense of differing points of view?

Ideological battles are emotional, not political, battles and they don’t belong in the political discourse. They erode our personal freedoms as sure as socialism does.

NOTE: If Person [A] doesn’t believe in abortion because of their religious underpinnings, then Person [A] can probably be counted on not to have an abortion. And they should be free to think and behave along those lines accordingly, and without reprisal. If Person [B] feels differently about abortion because of their own set of ideological beliefs, then so be it. The two should be able to live in harmony in an ideal world where personal beliefs can co-exist so long as they do not harm others’ ability to act in accordance with their own beliefs.

While science has its theories about when an embryo becomes a sentient being, it is all still supposition in the end. People can and will take sides around such issues but they have to understand that when they do it is merely ‘black box thinking’; thinking that is born out of undocumented hypothesizing and nothing more. This provokes interesting discussion at times but also endless (and unnecessary) battles of wills. The extension of that line of thought to the legal ‘rights’ of the unborn only provokes more of the same unresovlable dilemmas.

Most people don’t want government to intrude in their bedrooms; but at the very same time more and more people seem to think it is perfectly fine for government to intrude on personal ideology. The acid test is whether a line of thought can be applied equally to divergent arenas without bending to continually accommodate exceptions.

You don’t [fix] personal ideologies; they evolve in the wake of encouraging forces in the social milieu in which individuals find themselves. The gross lack of quality education is the most frightening thing of all to me, and it rears its ugly head whenever one segment of society inflicts itself upon another segment of society for any reason. Such people lack greatly in terms of individual self-direction but, more importantly, they deify themselves as societal change-agents when they are not.

End-of-life health care and associated decisions in that regard is yet another domain in which the government and the polarizing public has no moral authority.

Why is it so hard to mind one’s own business? We all have to make choices in life, and they needn’t have identical outcomes.

That said, the health care reform battle is raging so let’s talk about personal choices regarding one’s physical self and well-being.

Until individuals begin to take self-responsibility for their own health (or lack thereof), there will always be a flood of impaired individuals who approach the end of their lives needing excessive medical support. This is something that Congress can do little or nothing about.

The fact is, we do not espouse primary prevention efforts in western medicine – a fix-it mentality prevails instead – and until that changes we will see increasing ranks of dysfunctional humans needing a lion’s share of health care services not only at the end of their pitiful lives but throughout their lives, as well.

Health care itself is not the expensive part: it is the growing ranks of the dysfunctional who are bankrupting us. Their genes may predispose them to certain things but mostly their physical health is the result of personal choices they make over the course of their lives.

Yes, personal choice has its downsides. And education is the key to unraveling the consequences of the choices we make.

The self-responsible individual takes calculated risks but not stupid risks; and they eat, sleep, consume food and behave in the world in a manner intended to preserve their health and well-being at all times. This individual is preventively oriented and does not generally fall prey to the numbing litany of things that go wrong with their body under normal, responsible self-care.

But guess what, millions of Americans don’t even wash their hands after relieving themselves; and they gorge themselves with junk foods and junk drinks. Follow the average person around a grocery store sometime and watch what they put in their cart – junk! – they grab sugars and carbs and highly processed foods and almost no fresh fruits or vegetables to speak of.
If anything, their veggies come in cans loaded down with salt and other preservatives. They eat for comfort, not for a long life.

Add to that a lifestyle of stress and relationship chaos, and high risk behaviors of all kinds, and you have a prescription for failure.

It is unlikely that these kinds of people will follow prevention-oriented dictates, even if coerced. Their ignorance exerts undue strain on a health care system that has not done its job of educating J Q PUBLIC about their bodies and how their bodies work. Their ignorance is surely killing them and about all you and I can do is watch this happen and pick up the tab for most of them.

FACT: it is a malady that cannot be legislated. In terms of the choices that people make, we can lead them to water but we can’t make them drink. Nor can medicine do much about any of this because medicine itself fails to recognize the role of the mind and the psyche in the overall balance and functioning of the body.

So there you are. The health care system today urgently needs tort reform and insurance regulation in the form of opening up interstate insurance options – and Congress needs to make this happen now – without having to reinvent the wheel in the process.

But the rest is up to us. And that’s the scary part!

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. © 2010 Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph. All rights reserved.

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