The American Right To Die
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Politics and Activism

The American Right To Die

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The American Right To Die
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There's a lot of controversy with the politics in the US right now. First, there's the whole scandal of did Russia rig the election, Pence using a private email, Trump not actually being in office 24/7 while Obama was expected to be, and so on. But the iconic political argument that comes up with every president, regardless of race, religion, political experience and overall lukewarm favor, is healthcare and guns.

Now, I know what everyone thinks. They don't belong together, one of those can hurt people! One of those is a right! One of those belongs to the people, we shouldn't have to earn it!

Which is kinda the problem here. We assume that guns are a right. Look, as a history major who has to double in poli-sci all the time, I know what our Constitution says. The second amendment gives us the right to bear arms. I have no problem with having bear arms, or bare arms, or armed bears. I don't even mind that we want to bear arms, for the sake of protection. I just think the historical context should be taken into consideration here.

The whole reason this was included in our Bill of Rights was because good ol' mother England didn't want her colonies to have an uprising and revolution, so we weren't allowed the guns, bayonets and powder to fight back. We have the right to have them as Americans, to protect ourselves from foreign threats, the occasional criminal who tries to take what's ours or kill us, and that's totally fair. I don't think an AK-47 is necessary; a shotgun would certainly do it, let's not get extreme.

I know we, as a country, don't typically like to hear about our history. We cherry pick and shine our favorite pieces. I mean, slavery is over, it can't be that bad, and we gave women the right to vote! We fought our oppressors and won and we proved to the world that the little guy could come out on top. But the fact of the matter is we need to remember some of the not so glossy, definitely not pretty parts. And that means taking it apart, learning the context and realizing that we aren't little Washingtonites or the next Thomas Jeffersons.

"We have a right to guns." Fine, I'll give it to you. The right shall not be infringed on by me or anyone else, just think of what we need them for. To protect ourselves. In colonial times, there was nothing to prevent a redcoat from coming into your house, taking what you owned, taking advantage of your wife or daughters, or anything else that he wanted. There was nothing to protect you from the wild bears and wolves in the woods.

Think about it. There are things that the original founding documents said were okay or just allowed by omission. Slavery, for instance. If you want something more recent, the government allowed poll taxes and eugenics in the means of rigging the system their way. But we've mostly agreed that these things were wrong and they were redacted. We should at least consider doing the same thing to our second amendment.

Considering what happens quite frequently in this country because we refuse to check our rights, it's amazing we all haven't died. School shootings that started with Columbine and continued to recent years like Sandy Hook, are prevalent. Those guns weren't purchased for protection; they were purchased for endangerment, for killing people, for terrorism. The threat wasn't a Muslim either time, but privileged white men who believed their rights to guns were more important than the right to live. "Stand your ground" in Florida is responsible for deaths like those of Trayvon Martin, more fueled by the trigger happy fingers than those who feared for their lives. Movie theater shootings, like in Aurora. We weep for the world when bombs go off, but when children are slaughtered and stain our schools and sidewalks red, it's not our problem. We want to blame the mentally ill.

Now I won't deny that the likes of those homegrown terrorists needed some sort of psychiatric help. But that brings us to the point of the privilege of healthcare. Only those who can pay for it should have it.

If that's the case, why are moderately well-to-do white men the ones causing a majority of our problems? Nevermind, question withdrawn, your honor. Because it's not the mentalities we really care about, it's the politics.

Those who need healthcare are the ones the politicians deem the ones we can't afford. Poor people. Immigrants. Welfare. Older people in nursing homes. People who build this country and elect our officials. But until they're actually useful, until the age of eighteen and in the hands of perfect sculptors, we just don't care. We don't, and it's a travesty.

I spent my second semester of college in and out of the hospital. It was a seizure disorder, previously unknown to my family or doctors. This caused fainting, heavy nosebleeds, up to twenty seizures a day, memory problems and rapid weight loss. I'd say I visited the ER about five times in the semester, although I was urged to go almost every other day. I was usually ignored for an hour or two, put on a liter of saline and left to freeze in the ward, occasionally visited by nurses who would draw my blood and make sure my heart wasn't going too fast.

The bill came in for a heart monitor that I never got, at around five hundred dollars. The MRI I needed was close to ten thousand dollars. A liter of saline is about seven hundred even. In all my time in the hospital, they never found out what was wrong with me and never seemed to try hard to find out either. But here I was, eighteen years old and trying to do college work, with a bill close to $17,000. And I was a lucky one. If I had gotten the spinal tap the doctor insisted on, the bill would've skyrocketed to a nice $25,000, not counting the recovery time costs or medications I would need afterward.

Other events include my mother's knee surgery, the time my dad, a diabetic, spent an entire summer without the insulin his life depends on, the time my brother broke his wrist, and the time I had to have my wisdom teeth removed. Outside the family, there are people who get diagnosed with cancer, who have heart attacks or strokes, have incurable diseases like Lupus or AIDS. We are expected to the foot the bill, because after all, if we want it, we should pay for it.

With what's become a widely known and discussed remark on Twitter by Jason Chaffetz, there's now the debate on whether people choose iPhones over healthcare. The thing about being poor is that when you have money, it's very fluid and if you don't spend it now, you won't have it later. Not to mention that a smartphone is almost required to get by in this age. We need something that can make and receive calls, have an internet connection, handle whatever terribly stupid and mundane things we ask of it, and all fit in a purse or pocket.

Besides, what's easier to afford, a $700 phone or a $25,000 hospital bill? If you've only got the money for a phone in payments, it's an easy decision. That phone can help you get a job so you can pay your other bills. Pick the hospital bill, and you won't have enough change to buy a handful of M&M's out of a gumball machine.

So what's the big deal about healthcare versus guns? Well, firstly, we don't need guns to survive. Just look at Australia, having banned guns, which has done remarkably well. So has Japan, England, and Switzerland. We ask for guns without thinking of the consequences, but no one decides to have a tumor in their lungs for the laughs.

If the government wants a higher voter turnout, they need to have a public who are available. Take care of your citizens, so even if they are chronically or terminally ill, they can enjoy the sunlight from outside a hospital room. They can vote for you.

What's more important, a centuries old document talking about gunpowder to protect us from grizzly bears or the welfare of our newest generation? And for those of you who want to point out we might still need the guns to protect students from bears, please research pepper spray and an electric fence. Does the job at a lower cost and fewer fatalities of our own blood.

Bullets are our right. We should have the right to our guns and arms to protect ourselves. We also should have the right to be taken care of, so that our mentally ill companions in the world can't hurt us as easily. Does that infringe on their right? Maybe, and so let's say that they can also get a gun. But a handgun does a lot less damage than a semi-automatic. We don't need those available to anyone who has a credit card and internet connection. How about we don't sell to people who could be a problem if they live in a school zone? Maybe we don't give them a concealed carry permit. That way they can have their guns but we all feel a little bit safer at night.

And if the morality of it all hasn't convinced you, let me remind you of perhaps the most iconic quote from our founding documents- the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That's more important than anyone's guns.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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